Parody's More Entertaining Than the Tube

CSI: British Columbia, Crime Scene Improvisation

A Vancouver TheatreSports League production.

At the New Revue Stage Wednesdays through Saturdays

You'd think familiarity with a parody subject would enhance your viewing pleasure of the performance. And maybe it does. But good comedy should be inclusive of even the most pop-culturally ignorant and speak to a more universal audience.

So it is with CSI: British Columbia, Crime Scene Improvisation, the latest lampoon from the Vancouver TheatreSports League. I attended the opening without once having seen the two popular television programs on which it is based, and laughed throughout at the obvious impersonations and takeoffs. It wasn't until after the show that a friend who's a fan of the series filled me in on the references, which made me want to watch the televised version and return to the New Revue Stage later to see what I was missing.

Scott Owen pulled in the biggest laughs parodying the halting delivery of David Caruso's infamous acting technique. Playing his Miami coroner, he told his suspect, "Now remember...I may...look at you...while I talk at you...but it will be rare."

As with any improv show, audience members play a large role. When asked for a location for our story, only one person responded. So the murder took place on Granville Island, precisely where we all were. But the professionals on-stage still managed to make it work by incorporating rats and lousy parking conditions into the plot.

The crowd also provides aspects of the corpse, witnesses, suspects, and alibis, while a computer screen of a police report updates the information on-stage.

Although the title capitalizes on the popularity of the TV show, the second half is actually a parody on Law & Order. The setting switches to a courtroom where a judge chosen from the audience hears the case based on all the evidence gathered in the first half.

This extended scene suffered slightly from not enough Owen and too much Ellen Kennedy, who wasn't up to the comedic challenges as defence attorney. But anytime things started to drag, they'd artfully switch into a flashback to act out events or fast-forward through a "slide-show" presentation using actors. Plus, Randy Schooley, as the prosecutor, was hilarious, as he alternately took off and put on his jacket for each witness.

This is an extremely well crafted show from Louise Moon and Roger Fredericks. If a TV dramaí‚ ­hating guy like me can enjoy it, those who actually are fans of the tube's CSI: Miami and CSI: Crime Scene should really appreciate the live laughs. Pull yourselves away from the set for one night and go see it.