PAL Theatre's stage musical, of the classic cult film Reefer Madness, is an ambitious action packed journey back to drug crazed 1936. Up and coming directors Maddison Popov and Brianna Wiens do an amazing job with their actors, who in turn deliver solid performances.

In 1936, Reefer Madness (aka Tell Your Children) was originally a film created as a morality tale intended to teach parents about the dangers of cannabis. It was an exaggerated take on the use of marijuana, claiming it lead to sex, paranoia, madness, and murder.

The film was financed by a church group who claimed this violent narcotic had “soul destroying effects on unwary teens leading to hedonistic exploits en-route to the bottom."

Some of the alleged effects of the devil drug were said to be: sudden violent uncontrollable laughter, dangerous hallucinations, monstrous extravagances, emotional disturbances, total inability to direct thoughts, and loss of all power to resist physical emotion leading to acts of shocking violence and often ending in incurable insanity.

The cast and crew hilariously do everything in their power to deliver on all accounts.

Most amateur productions aren't without their faults, and this was no exception. Here's a significant one which I'm obliged to point out.
The stage was way too cramped. The work space is long and narrow and there are a very limited number of ways one can stage a performance. Unfortunately, the directors missed the mark this time around.

With the sheer number of people in the cast expected to not only perform, but dance at the same time, it would have been a much better idea to have placed the audience and stage along the length of the theatre instead of the width. It was virtually impossible for the actors to move without bumping into one another. It took away from the performances, and gave a high-school feel to the show.

It also would have been a better choice given there's a live band. The band should definitely not have been placed between the stage and the audience. Both visually and audibly, that was a bad choice. We were craning our necks and cupping our ears throughout the entire show.

Having said all that, the play does deliver its snorts and yucks, guffaws and chortles, with a couple of knee slapping crack-ups. It's definitely worth a night out, a hoot for the grown-ups, but to be clear, leave the kids at home and tell your friends instead.

Reefer Madness runs until July 4th at the PAL Theatre on Cadero Street. For tickets call 604 685 9930 or email solo,,,shaw.ca
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