In a theatre that recreates the temperatures of the Southern United States (where I believe the play takes place), the SaBooge Theatre presents 'Speak Easy'. This a dark neo-gothic portrait of life at a Schuldhaus Sanatorium for its varied and various inhabitants. All kinds of characters inhabit the sanatorium, a former 'party' girl, a preacher, a quiet and jumpy Yale student, and a sleazy ladies man. The newest patient at Schuldhaus is Ruby, a woman who has been instructed by her husband to 'shape up'. She is depressed because she does not know who she is anymore and has no clue how to 'find' herself again. Ruby starts a downward spiral when she falls under the influence of the resident ladies man. Ruby's troubles begin to affect all the other inhabitants and the place is thrown into a state of chaos. As if this is not enough, Lily, the sister of the Yale student, arrives late one night and causes quite a commotion. The play jumps from one patient's story to the next and each is as messed up as the previous one. As the play goes on we learn more and more about each character and their stories. Even the cleaning lady has a part to play in this story.
Speak Easy is presented as an old fashioned radio show complete with a narrator (who is excellent!) and a sponsor (Lucky Strike cigarettes). An perfect compliment to the actors is the live music (organ, clarinet and background noises) provided by the award winning Jeff Lorenz. The set is spare, but has the most ingenious use of mattress springs I have ever seen, and is very fluid or always changing. It is a production chock full of dark humour and double entendres that it is sure to get a laugh out of even the toughest critic. What makes this production so good is that it not only makes you laugh but it also is full of quite heavy subject matter. The issues of drug addiction, religion, marital infidelity, insanity, cross dressing, and 'what lurks behind a calm exterior' are examined. This troupe is the largest ensemble of young Montreal talent to date. Described as an 'up-and-coming' theatre group, the SaBooge troupe has won awards locally and has also won Best Show at the Dublin Fringe Festival. Based on the high quality and originality of this production they will not be 'up-and-coming' very much longer.