Joking off 

After you've seen all the films at Royal Oak’s Main Theatre and filled up on coffee and cuisine at the local cafés, you should participate in an evening of unique live performance at the Wunderground Theatre. Tucked away amid all the shops and eateries in Royal Oak, the tiny venue is a bit of a diamond in the rough currently showcasing a bizarre and very funny original production entitled Canker Sores & Go-Go Juice. The offbeat sketch comedy is reminiscent of vaudeville, with a small cast (Francine Jo Hachem, Michelle Mirkin, Rio Scafone, Chuck Simon, Suzie Taylor and Barbara Z) of characters zipping on and off stage with funny one-liners, songs and skits.

On a minuscule stage where there’s neither set nor costumes to speak of, the emphasis is on the writing and talent. Written and directed by West End Productions’ creator, Francine Jo Hachem, Canker Sores was conceived to meet an unusual goal.

"Creating Canker Sores & Go-Go Juice has been the most hilarious experience of my life. I kept my focus on the fact that I wanted our audiences to say after the show, ‘What the hell was that all about?’ That being the premise, you imagine the freedom," declares Hachem.

Mission accomplished, thanks to such bizarre skits as "Daisy," "Motown Meledy," "Pillow People" and "Old Folks."

The lead character of "Daisy" (performed by Chuck Simon) is a boy who wears a pink dress, because at his birth his parents decided it was just as easy and rational for their child to be a girl as a boy. As a result, Daisy is a confused social misfit, who attends hundreds of therapy sessions with a shrink who would rather be elsewhere. Simon’s monologues are hilarious, and the situation only gets funnier when Daisy’s teacher submits the student’s suicidal essay to the school principal. All the principal can perceive are seeds of greatness that should be nourished and published, not signs of a sick student in need of help.

Canker Sores is an impressive example of local theater offering alternative entertainment. Although it’s a bit on the longish side, it is definitely worth checking out.

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