Star Rating:

Theatre Camp

Directors: Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman

Actors: Molly Gordon, Noah Galvin, Nick Lieberman

Release Date: Friday 25th August 2023

Genre(s): Comedy

Running time: 92 minutes

Adirond Acts, a failing theatre summer camp, is on the verge of foreclosure and to make matters worse, the camp's founder Joan (Amy Sedaris) has fallen into a coma with her son, finance influencer (Jimmy Tatro), set to take over the camp. Nevertheless, the camp rolls on and long-time teachers and former campers Amos (Ben Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) try to keep the camp rolling, with help from new teacher Janet (Ayo Edibiri) and techie Glenn (Noah Galvin)...

Mockumentaries generally tend to be difficult to execute, as it requires incredibly gifted comedic talent, whip-smart writing, and all of it has to be done so well as to make it look effortless. It's got to look and feel, well, like a documentary. 'Theater Camp' takes its cues not from 'The Office' or its American counterpart, but goes further into the territory of Christopher Guest and the likes of 'Waiting For Guffman' and 'A Mighty Wind'. Here, the characters lead by example and the performances are so perfectly pitched to the comedy that it frequently results in some of the funniest on-screen moments you'll see this year.

More than that, there's a deep and abiding affection for theatre and specifically, the theatre kids who end up in places like Adirond Acts. Anyone who served time in the Billy Barrys or in a local theatre group from the ages of 6 to 12 and was forced to sing in 'Rumpelstiltskin' a dozen times will recognise a lot of the setups here. There's frequent jokes about Bob Fosse, the campiness of it all, and the bittersweet nature of fading youth and how places such as this are a safe haven for kids who never fit in anywhere else. That's not to say that there isn't some biting satire and cynicism on display here. More than a few times, the kids themselves are on the sharp end of it, with one particular joke pointing out how ridiculous it is for kids to sing 'I Had A Dream' from 'Les Miserables'.

Ben Platt and Molly Gordon are perfectly cast as co-dependent, fully-grown theatre kids who can't get out of each other's way in order to make any kind of movement in their lives. Platt, in particular, plays his role with a real awareness of himself, given his role in the heinous musical 'Dear Evan Hansen'. Jimmy Tatro, meanwhile, plays the dipshit content bro with unerring ease - probably too well, in fact - while Noah Galvin shines a light in the third act when he assumes the lead role in the ill-fated production honouring the camp's founder.

As much as 'Theater Camp' is borne out of improvisation and ad-libbing, there's a real tightness to it. All of the jokes and setups are finely honed and slot in perfectly with the next, so much so that the ninety-odd-minute runtime just zips right past and leads up to the grand finale. Delightfully staged, and full of zesty humour, but with a real tenderness underneath it, 'Theater Camp' is destined for comedy cult status in no time at all.