REVIEW: The Number 14

The Great Canadian Theatre Company drives headlong into holiday season with a long-touring show (20th anniversary!) from Vancouver’s Axis Theatre that’s suitable for the entire family.

Should you see it?

What kind of bus ride is The Number 14? The funnest kind of bus ride.
Axis Theatre Company's The Number 14, running at the Great Canadian Theatre Company

Scott Walters and Tracy Power in The Number 14

The best way I can think to describe The Number 14, the long-touring show that just opened a run at the Great Canadian Theatre Company is to say that it’s a circus. Six actors take up dozens of characters and deliver more styles and types of performance than you could shake a stick at resulting in a wild and crazy fun ride of a circus that’s set on a bus.

The show is built from a series of vignettes, taking the every day public transit experiences and multiplying them by themselves to the nth degree, thus turning the characters into wonderful caricatures of people you’ve most certainly encountered somewhere in your life.

I like calling it a circus for two reasons. The obvious reference is to the mad chorus of characters who come on and off this bus during the course of the show from the germy homeless sneezer, to the change counting fare dropper, to the too familiar talker who won’t leave you alone, to the chatty chatty Cathy teen girls.

With its use of mask and costume and movement, The Number 14 excels here as an astounding example of one actor fully transforming into multiple completely different characters. There may as well have been dozens of actors in this show for how unrecognizable the actors were from one character to the next.

Axis Theatre Company's The Number 14, running at the Great Canadian Theatre Company

If only all bus rides resulted in a song and dance.

I also think of The Number 14 as a circus because every vignette is presented as a new act – one is done completely in acrobatics for example, another is a hip hop rap solo. You never know what’s going to come next as the show goes from act to act, rising the pitch and tempo of the whole until absolutely absurd and incredible closing numbers.

It’s part musical, part stand-up, part mask (a lot of mask actually, and a lot of very different, wonderful masks at that), part clown/mime, part dance, part acrobatics, part movement, and all the different combinations of those you could come up with. It’s a magnificent spectacle for anybody of any age who just wants to see a show.

Axis Theatre Company's The Number 14, running at the Great Canadian Theatre Company

Like I said.

Two terrific examples of why you need to see it:

  • One act using a very cool trick of perspective (plus costume/mask/etc) to convince your brain that the actors really are children.
  • The most absurd, yet wonderful, breaking (annihilation?) of the fourth wall you could imagine.

This is a super show for audiences of any age and a marvelous show for the holiday season. I can’t imagine anybody who enjoys taking in a capital-S Show willfully missing this show.

The Number 14 runs at the Great Canadian Theatre Company until December 16th. Find out more about the show, including the GCTC’s family packages, some more photos, and a brilliant preview video that you oughtta watch (and is free!) in our preview article.

What did you think? What was your favourite bit? Do you agree with me, or am I totes off my rocker? I’ve given you my opinion, now I want yours. Join the discussion in the comments below.

Allan Mackey

About Allan Mackey

Allan Mackey is editor-in-chief of Production Ottawa, which, really, is too fancy a title. He also acts as show producer for Should You See It, making sure you get your answer in just about two minutes every time. He writes stuff and occasionally turns that stuff into movies. Keep being awesome!

What people are saying:

  1. Reena Belford Reena Belford says:

    Won’t be able to fit this one into my schedule, but my 12-year-old son got to go on a school field trip to a mid-week matinee! His review: The scene with the kids was “just plain gross”, but everything else was hilarious! He also enjoyed “the Italian lady”.

    His verdict on child-appropriateness: There are some bad words - he recommends age 9/10 and up.

Links to this article.

  1. [...] The Production Ottawa review for The Number 14 The Wheels On The Bus Go Round (Visitorium) [...]

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