All posts by Istvan Dugalin

Apart from his (pathological?) obsession with airplane disasters, Istvan is a filmmaker and film enthusiast, but began his creative adventures in theatre. Starting out as an actor, he soon discovered a preference for life behind-the-scenes. He has experience in lighting design, stage management and production management, but his passion is writing and directing. With several short films and an indie feature under his belt, film has been his focus in recent years, but theatre has been calling him back. You see more of his critical writing at his film reflection blog:

Review: Isitwendam (Native Earth Performing Arts)

In 2008, on behalf of the Canadian government, Stephen Harper gave an apology to the First Nations for the suffering that resulted from the Residential School system. Nobel enough in its supposed intentions, it represents little more than a placeholder, a tepid acknowledgement of the need reconciliation—a muddy, fraught concept that Canada is still struggling to wrap its head around.

Into this tense situation is thrown the young and eager Brendan, an aspiring politician. He is a half white, half Ojibwe man, desperate to prove himself and get his foot in the door of the Conservative government. Following his hilariously pandering letter of introduction, he is hired by Aboriginal Affairs. His first task? To discredit a Residential School survivor’s reparation claim. And so begins Isitwendam (presented by Native Earth and B2C Theatre), Meegwun Fairbrother’s breathtaking solo performance that both warmed and broke my heart. Continue reading Review: Isitwendam (Native Earth Performing Arts)

Review: CHICHO (Theatre Passe Muraille)

A new solo play in Toronto explores the turmoil in Venezuela through a queer lens

Presented by Pencil Kit Productions and Aluna Theatre, Augusto Bitter’s one-person show, CHICHO, is currently playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. Full of whimsy and insight, it is a grand feat of showmanship, packing in an astounding amount of characterization, Venezuelan trivia and sexy, playful antics. Continue reading Review: CHICHO (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Review: School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian/Nightwood)

Tensions flare in an all-girl boarding school, on stage now in Toronto

Obsidian Theatre, in association with Nightwood Theatre, presents Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. That title sure is catchy and has, no doubt, already hooked you in with the promise of young women behaving badly. I assure you: it does not disappoint, serving up plenty of flaring nostrils and raging egos. It’s the aching heart underneath, though, that drives this story.  Continue reading Review: School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play (Obsidian/Nightwood)

Review: Death and the Maiden (Red Sandcastle Theatre)

Intense dramas in tight spaces are a treat for me, and there is one currently playing at Red Sandcastle Theatre. Ariel Dorfman’s political thriller, Death and the Maiden, gets a modest and intimate staging at this cozy Queen East venue.

Set in an unnamed South American country after the fall of a dictatorship, the play unfolds in an isolated beach house. This is the home of Paulina, a former political prisoner and torture survivor, which she shares with her lawyer husband, Gerardo. He has recently been appointed the head of a commission tasked with investigating human rights violations from the previous regime. Continue reading Review: Death and the Maiden (Red Sandcastle Theatre)

Review: Little Menace: Pinter Plays (Soulpepper Theatre)

Soulpepper Theatre presents a selection of Harold Pinter shorts to Toronto audiences

Little Menace: Pinter Plays, currently playing at Soulpepper Theatre, is a collection of short works by Harold Pinter that offers up brief yet biting scenarios that manage to be as darkly funny as they are tedious and disquieting. Continue reading Review: Little Menace: Pinter Plays (Soulpepper Theatre)

2019 Next Stage Festival Review: Raising Stanley / Life With Tulia (Raising Stanley / Life with Tulia collective)

Raising Stanley / Life with Tulia, playing at the Next Stage Theatre Festival after its sold-out premiere in Ottawa, is a multi-disciplinary piece that combines storytelling and painting to take the audience on a journey through the experience of raising and partnering with guide dogs for the blind. Continue reading 2019 Next Stage Festival Review: Raising Stanley / Life With Tulia (Raising Stanley / Life with Tulia collective)

Review: Obaaberima (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre)

Tawiah Ben M’Carthy’s play returns to Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times as part of its 40th season

Tawiah Ben M’Carthy’s Obaaberima, currently playing at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre as part of their 40th season, is a visceral and emotional triumph. With fierce honesty, M’Carthy takes us on a journey that spans continents and weaves gender, race and sexuality into a rich and colourful tapestry of self-discovery. Continue reading Review: Obaaberima (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre)

Review: Middletown (Crows Theatre/Shaw Festival)

Middletown asks existential questions of the human condition, now on the Toronto stage

In partnership with Crow’s Theatre, the 2017 Shaw Festival’s staging of Will Eno’s poetic observation of small town life, Middletown, gets a remount at Streetcar Crowsnest. Meg Roe’s simple yet immersive production feels carefully measured. The ensemble cast brings weight and purpose to the deceptively mundane, seemingly random interactions between townsfolk. Here is a space where the minutiae of everyday life is given cosmic significance.  Continue reading Review: Middletown (Crows Theatre/Shaw Festival)

Review: The Caucasian Chalk Circle (George Brown Theatre)

Toronto’s George Brown Theatre tackles Bertolt Brecht’s classic play

George Brown Theatre delivers a stylish and thoroughly enchanting production of Bertolt Brecht’s classic of epic theatre, The Caucasian Chalk Circle—a parable of precarious justice, greed and selflessness. It tells the story of a peasant girl who rescues an abandoned baby from a recently overthrown rich governor and his wife. Continue reading Review: The Caucasian Chalk Circle (George Brown Theatre)