All posts by S. Bear Bergman

S. Bear Bergman has great faith in the power of theatre to make change, and has been putting his money where his mouth is on that one for some time. A writer, performer, and lecturer, Bear works full time as an artist and cultural worker and loves to see as much live performance as possible – making this a fantastic gig for him.

Preview: 38th Rhubarb Festival (Buddies In Bad Times Theatre)

Well known for its genre-bending, experimental nature and risk-taking ethos, Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is a wild ride of multiple short performances every night. In previous years I have had stories whispered in my ear, watched snippets of opera, voluntarily locked myself in a closet with clowns, thrilled to splendid choreography, watched rapt at profoundly honest storytelling, been issued an identity card that marks me forever as a Big Spoon, and more (so much more). A mix of emerging performers and established talents (often working in new idioms), it’s a delight for all the senses.

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Review: Five Faces For Evelyn Frost (Canadian Stage and Theatre francais de Toronto)


Five Faces for Evelyn Frost experiments with social media to tell a story, on stage in Toronto

A quintet of youthful white-appearing actors, rapidly changing projection of photographs, bright white light, onslaught of short declarative sentences, nonlinear storytelling — taken together, these form most of the new show Five Faces For Evelyn Frost at Canadian Stage. If two or more of these appeal to you, you might find Five Faces For Evelyn Frost an appealing artistic work. I did not.

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Review (Kid +1): James and the Giant Peach (Young People’s Theatre)

Young People’s Theatre presents the beloved classic James and the Giant Peach in Toronto

In children’s literature, there are few tropes more beloved than the good-hearted child who defies a horrible guardian to reach for her or his dream. James and the Giant Peach, one of my favorite examples of this theme, is currently showing in one of its modern, musical incarnations at Young People’s Theatre. Showing again, actually, after a successful run in 2014, with a new set, new costumes, and a truly excellent new cast.

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Review: Métis Mutt (Native Earth Performing Arts)

Metis Mutt tackles some hard truths with lightheartedness, on stage in Toronto

As a reviewer, I’ve started to recognize certain markers and symbolic items upon arriving at a solo show: what’s on the stage while we wait tends to give solid clues about what’s in store. Métis Mutt, Sheldon Elter’s mobile and moving solo work (running at Aki Studio until February 5th) surprised me—and it kept surprising me.

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Review: From Broadway to Obscurity… (Cabaret Soiree)

ERIC_GUTMAN_FB2O-256Eric Gutman presented a personal show on the ins and outs of all things Broadway in Toronto

Eric Gutman, the creator and star of From Broadway to Obscurity, has a tremendous gift for impressions, especially musical impressions. There’s a while in the middle of his performance where he talks about his time working on Forbidden Broadway. Gutman sings a lively, story-studded medley of Gerald Allesandrini’s best-known and most pointed songs, and this 20 minutes of the performance is totally delightful. The rest of it, to be honest, I could have taken or left (and would have mostly preferred to leave).

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2017 NEXT STAGE THEATRE FESTIVAL REVIEW: SONGBUSTER – AN IMPROVISED MUSICAL (SONGBUSTER INC.)

songbusterAt the beginning of a Songbuster – An Improvised Musical, one of the performers solicits a suggestion from an audience member for an exciting place where one meets people. The genius in the front row for the opening of Next Stage Theatre Festival offered: “ComicCon,” and we were off to the races. The absolutely hilarious and completely improvised races, through which we galloped for a very funny hour.

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Review: Who Killed Spalding Gray? (Canadian Stage)

spaldingWho Killed Spalding Gray? takes a look back at the popular actor and writer, on Toronto stages

With Daniel MacIvor, one always leaves wondering: “how much of that is fact and how much is fiction?” Who Killed Spalding Gray?, at Canadian Stage until 11 December, is much the same — there are all manner of threads about loss and grief and imagination that get knotted up and smoothed out in this production.

When the show was over, it felt like I’d been served some very lovely window dressing that almost, but not entirely, concealed how very much this show is about neither the facts or the fictions, but the Truth.

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Kid +1 Review: Second Nature (Canadian Opera Company)

dsc_4012-copySecond Nature delights young and old audiences alike, now on stage in Toronto

For quite some time, my six-year-old has been very curious about opera. He’s attended every other kind of performance I can think of offhand, but opera has remained a great unknown — until the wonderful folks at Canadian Opera Company presented a single day of their touring children’s opera, Second Nature.

He LOVED it, and is now campaigning to see The Magic Flute when it plays in the wintertime (even after being told it’s three hours long).

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Review: Black Boys (Saga Collectif/Buddies In Bad Times)

tawiah-mcarthy-tjomas-olajide-and-stephen-jackman-torkoff-by-jeremy-mimnaghToronto’s Buddies in Bad Times presents a show exploring the experience of being Black and queer

In 1989, as fifteen-year-old white suburban queer kid, I snuck downstairs into the basement at midnight and watched Marlon Riggs’ groundbreaking documentary Tongues Untied on PBS with the sound turned down so low I was two inches from the set, afraid to be caught but more afraid to miss a second of it. As Black Boys started to unfold on the Buddies In Bad Times stage I found myself catapulted back to the electric sensation of seeing genre-defining work about queerness and Blackness.

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Review: Bloodclaat (Watah Theatre)

bloodclaat-fotor-8

d’bi young anitafrika creates an intense experience in Bloodclaat, on stage in Toronto

There were only 14 people in the audience the night I saw Bloodclaat at The Watah Theatre, and that means a great many people are missing out on the power and brilliance of d’bi young anitafrika and this show.

Don’t be one of them. Even (or especially) if you’re not sure you have it in you for a difficult show, even (or especially) if you have no clear sense of what to expect: this is so worth seeing.

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