A Night at the Venue

There have been plenty of films about making films, and books about making books. What I've never encountered before, though, is a play about running an arts venue. Written by Bryan Lynagh, co-owner of The Tuxedo Cat, A Night at the Venue is a meta-play about the trials and tribulations of running the venue.

Essentially this show is a collection of anecdotes thrown together: some of them acted out, while others are just related. The acted-out ones are a lot of fun, because Yvonne McAulay and Chiara Gabrielli really throw themselves into their delightfully obnoxious characters: the bag lady, the liquor licensing agent, the 'OutDaily' reviewer and many others.

The spoken anecdotes, which are mostly about passing inspections, meeting margins, and the lack of alternative career paths, are less entertaining. Robbie Greenwell, as the put-upon Mark, does a serviceable job in relating them, but mostly isn't given much else to do but react to the other performers. It's a flat performance, that is, but I feel like that flatness is ultimately the fault of the script and the direction.

This show is the most fun when it (lovingly) skewers the people who keep the venue going – the artists, punters, reviewers and loiterers who inhabit its rooms and halls. I would have loved to see more of that, and for it to hit a little heavier on those notes, but the show mostly pulls its punches. Not even the reviewer character got a decent roasting!

Tuxie-Cat tragics should mentally add another star to this rating, if they're considering seeing it. You'll definitely get a bit more out of this show if you are familiar with the place. But as the show stands, it's still a bit underbaked, and could use a bit more polish to work as stand-alone entertainment.

★★