Soulpepper brings “cathartic laughter” to the Toronto stage
George Orwell’s 1945 classic novel Animal Farm was a satirical critique of Stalinism in the Soviet Union. As the program for the production of Soulpepper‘s Animal Farm cheekily notes, “its greatest flaw, identified by a majority of 7th and 8th graders, is that it’s obviously irrelevant to our modern more sophisticated lives.” This new adaptation by Anthony MacMahon takes the premise of the original and applies it it to the issues of today. It also takes the approach of the original, which is not at all subtle. While nuance has a time and place, its not necessary for a hilarious and adept skewering of the current rise of demagogic political leaders.
Continue reading Review: Animal Farm (Soulpepper)
Hannah Moscovitch’s Bunny takes to the stage at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre
I don’t often recognize myself in a character as much as I did at the opening night of Bunny, Hannah Moscovitch’s new play at Tarragon. Maev Beaty, one of the most splendid actors this city has to offer, plays Sorrel. As a teenager, Sorrel is a dorky, top-of-the-honour-roll student who’d rather read old novels than try to “fit in.” But as she moves further into adolescence, she discovers one thing that’s as pleasurable as reading: kissing, and more than kissing, with more than one boy. While Sorrel is described by all as stunningly beautiful, which does not describe me, I identify so much with her twin passions of sex and fiction, as well as her socially awkward sense of humour. Beaty’s Sorrel is so much herself, with no time for inhibition, that it’s hard not to love her.
Continue reading Review: Bunny (Tarragon Theatre)
Two dance programs come to Toronto’s Theatre Centre
Contemporaneity 2.0, playing at the Theatre Centre as part of the Progress Festival, has two different Programs, A and B, both produced by Anandam Dance Theatre. On opening night we saw Program A, Gandhari. Unfortunately, the most interesting part of the event for me was the land acknowledgement by Gein Wong. Continue reading 2018 PROGRESS REVIEW: Contemporaneity 2.0 (Anandam Dance Theatre)
Harsh history and present day reality are explored in a new play now playing in Toronto
Ipperwash, onstage now at Native Earth, is a fictional story based on the true events of the Stoney Point reserve, which was forcibly moved to the neighbouring reserve of Kettle Point in 1942 by the federal Department of Defence. There they established Camp Ipperwash, a military training base, with the promise to return the land after the war was over. However, the area was left contaminated, riddled with land mines.
In the play, set in the present day, an army veteran who is also Indigenous named Bea (PJ Prudat), arrives, employed on the clean up. As she develops relationships with two of the people who live there, Tim Cloud (Jonathan Fisher) and his nephew Slip (James Dallas Smith), while also being visited by the ghost of Tim’s sister Kwe (Samantha Brown), she grows aware of the history of the land and the powerful toll it took on the people of Stoney Point. Continue reading Review: Ipperwash (Native Earth)
Hilarious, well-acted The Wedding Party arrives on the Toronto stage
I think most people end up having a complicated relationship with weddings — I certainly do. The Wedding Party by Kristen Thomson, produced by Crow’s Theatre, is a glorious fiasco of complicated relationships that play out on the wedding day of a young couple. The couple themselves are pointedly absent as characters. I have very often seen unhealthy family dynamics usurp the attention from a couple on their wedding day, and this show is about that. Continue reading Review: The Wedding Party (Crow’s Theatre)
The Lorax brings environmental message to the Toronto stage
My five year old and I went on Sunday afternoon to catch the Mirvish production of Dr Seuss’s The Lorax at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. My wife and I love this story and its environmental message, and all three of us have delightedly watched the 1972 version on YouTube a number of times. Now Mirvish has imported a production directly from the Old Vic Theatre in London, England, complete with music and puppets, to bring Dr Seuss’s incredible imagination alive on stage.
Continue reading Review: The Lorax (Kid +1)
Echo Productions brings old story new life, now on stage in Toronto
Charlie: Son of Man is a new, original play from Echo Productions depicting the Charlie Manson murders and trial, with “a modern twist.” The twist, as far as I could see, was simply the interjection of cell phones into the action, but they were used powerfully. The cell phones provided humour, visual effects, and a point: that we shouldn’t write off such horror stories as distant incidents in the past. The show is also marked by inspired movement pieces, and passionate performances from all. Continue reading Review: Charlie: Son of Man (Echo Productions)
Alexander Showcase Theatre presents George Bernard Shaw’s classic play Pygmalion in Toronto
Alexander Showcase Theatre is currently staging George Bernard Shaw’s classic Pygmalion at Alumnae Theatre. It’s tale about a phonetics academic who bets that he can teach a low class girl to speak such that she can pass for a duchess at a royal garden party. Continue reading Review: Pygmalion (Alexander Showcase Theatre)
Manwatching explores cis men delving into sexuality from a woman’s perspective, on stage in Toronto
The concept of Manwatching, on now at Tarragon, is both simple and novel: a male comedian reads, sight unseen, a script written by an anonymous woman that reflects on sex with men. There is no doubt that the text of the monologue was not previously released to the comedian who, on opening night, was Arthur Simeon. Simeon stumbled, reread bits to get it right, had authentic expressions of incredulity and surprise, and sometimes seemed to blush — none of which detracted from his delightful stage presence. The concept demands that there be a different performer each night, and the lineup is great. Most of the names are ones I recognize from my habit of listening to CBC Radio comedies, such as The Debaters. Continue reading Manwatching (Royal Court Theatre/Tarragon Theatre)
Exploring the dark side of manhood and toxic masculinity, Daughter is on stage in Toronto
Daughter, onstage now at the Theatre Centre, dives into the dark side of fatherhood and manhood, ostensibly in a critique of toxic masculinity. It’s a compelling performance from Adam Lazarus, a well known figure in Toronto’s clown community. He’s also the writer, blending elements of autobiography into the story. The audience is supposed to be unsure at any given moment if we are hearing from Lazarus the man, or the monster he has created.
Continue reading Review: Daughter (The Theatre Centre/QuipTake)