We’ve all done it: Sat on a bus or Metro, or on a bench in a park and marvelled at some of the oddities that pass by – some scruffy, some snobby and pristine, others youthful and noisy or elderly and even noisier. One thing for certain is they are all characters, all diverse, all eccentric and some even endearing.

You’ll find them all here in Montreal, under one roof, packed into one bus, The Number 14, at the Centaur Theatre.

Another certainty is that you will be entertained from the moment the lights go down until they are back up. There’s a touch of Vaudeville, Commedia Dell’Arte, Monty Python, SNL – even a ‘Beanerism’ pops up now and again.

The Number 14 came to life 20 years ago in Vancouver, when Roy Surette, the original director and one of the writers of the show, now the artistic director of The Centaur, was looking for something different to stage. Someone came up with the idea of characters on a bus and the rest is history.

And what a history the show has had: The Bus has travelled to the Gulf Islands, Toronto, Jerusalem and…Broadway, where it was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. There is also an adapted version for schools and younger children. (Not the one on at the Centaur, although children eight and up would enjoy. A tad long for some, running two hours with intermission.) The script covers a gamut of life’s socio/economic situations; but with such an attack on the silly side, they are all sub-text and never laboured upon – Like a belch after a good meal, they are gone with the wind.

Six actors (Tracey Power, Stefano Giulianetti, Neil Minor, Scott Walters, Chris Adams, Morgan Brayton) transform into a multitude of different characters and perform skits all taking place on Vancouver’s Number 14 bus – Two old Shakespearean codgers, a charmer of a little girl, a very tall teacher sporting a ciggie hanging from the left side of her mouth, an elderly woman (the church lady?) who is remarkably athletic for her age – quite a swinger, in fact – two school girls and a ‘rubbie’ who, shall we say, leaves a part of himself behind wherever he goes. And there are more…lots more.

How do they transform so completely?  With the use of Commedia Dell’Arte style masks that are so imaginatively realized by Melody Anderson.  

The direction is expertly handled by Wayne Specht and gives the show a sense of old world variety.

The set is simply one half of a bus, chopped down the centre lengthwise, complete with seats and poles to hang on to (and do a few other things, too).

The Number 14 is sheer entertainment for the sake of entertainment. It isn’t about a message, so don’t expect or look for one, it doesn’t have a hidden agenda, other than to make you laugh. Isn’t it great to go out for an evening of nonsense and laughter? We could all do with a bit of that these days, don’t you think?

The Number 14 is wild, hilarious and tickle-your-funny-bone outrageous!

On at The Centaur Theatre until May 26.
For tickets, please call 514-288-3161 or www.centaurtheatre.com