The latest efforts from the Toronto-based comedy collective Daisy Productions are two different takes on a fantasy vs. reality theme. #BasicBAEs, directed by Dennis Alexander Nicholson (Kitty Mammas), is a short film that follows the individual lives of friends who primarily communicate through social media. Thank U, Ex, a hybrid show directed by Maddie Rose that incorporates theatre with taped segments, chronicles the love life of a hopeless romantic with a chip on their shoulder. While this theme is a creative fountain for Daisy Productions (notably Kelly Taylor, who co-wrote and co-produced both titles), one of these projects works better than the other.
#BasicBAEs is an effective short film with fruitful performances and a sense of humour that’s consistently funny. It could actually double as a pilot or a pitch for a TV show or web series. The short cleverly presents the friends’ dynamic through social media, tricking us into believing that everyone has their act together. As we spend more time with these women, we see more of their singular perspectives. These peeks are fleeting, but we understand the dismay or frustration of these characters. As strangers, we know more than their alleged close friends. Sure, story-wise, this is common ground in an age of disconnected communication and technology addictions. But, #BasicBAEs maintains its relevancy and works its way up to a brilliant finale. It reunites the characters and delivers the story’s point more than expected.
While #BasicBAEs aims to relate to its viewer, Thank U, Ex primarily wants to entertain; although, I think the intention of Thank U, Ex was to relate to audiences more than the short film. Our narrator in this one-woman-show, Violet (played by Taylor), either delivers her relationship advice in the form of cautious PSAs or aggressively tongue-in-cheek “scared straight” scenarios. She’s had high ambitions for love and has been through hell, and she doesn’t want anyone else to make the same mistakes. And for those who have gone through it, she would rather shoot hot gossip about the heartbreak. Violet’s monologuing is broken up by an outsider (also played by Taylor) who is narrating Violet’s story through segments titled “Mistresspiece Theatre”.
Thank U, Ex is less compact than #BasicBaes, but that’s to be expected given its structure. But despite the flow breaking up the show’s concentration, it does embrace its vignette narrative. However, what earns my favourability between the two projects, and the main difference between #BasicBAEs and Thank U, Ex, is the maturity. #BasicBAEs feels like a realized vision with accessible feelings while Thank U, Ex is more surface and bubbly. I’m not sure how much of Thank U, Ex is autobiographical (if any of it), but it feels like it only speaks to a select group of people, and then doubles down on jokes and references that are very specific. Therefore, because I felt I wasn’t included in this audience, most of Thank U, Ex fell flat for me.
In the future, I would love to see more projects with the same dedication as #BasicBAEs from Daisy Productions. The short film medium works really well for this collective. If they wish to pursue more stage projects, judging on Thank U, Ex and Daisy Productions’ 2013 live Dare to Dream sketch show, there needs to be more attention applied to storytelling and less to packing in as many jokes and references as possible.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie