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: Oleanna (Theatre Penumbra)

Toronto’s Theatre Penumbra presents a timely, intimate version of David Mamet’s play Oleanna

Theatre Penumbra’s production of David Mamet’s Oleanna is terrifying—to me, anyway. I had read it in my early twenties and saw Mamet’s own film version, but I was unprepared for how hard it would hit me now. There in the front row at Red Sandcastle Theatre, sometimes mere inches from the drama as it unfolded—and despite knowing how the story plays out—I held my breath and braced myself. Continue reading Review: Oleanna (Theatre Penumbra)

Review: Evita (Scarborough Music Theatre)

Scarborough Music Theatre’s passionate production of Evita will wow audiences

I was a fresh-faced adolescent with a burgeoning interest in musical theatre when I first encountered this rock opera. Inspired by the content, I went on to participate in a scholastic speech-writing competition with my piece on the rise and death of Eva Perón. Since then, I’ve acquired several cast recordings and my obsession has blossomed, but alas—I’ve only seen one prior staging. So it was with great excitement that I attended Scarborough Music Theatre’s handsome production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical Evita. Continue reading Review: Evita (Scarborough Music Theatre)

Review: Cloud (Scapegoat Collective)

A “dark meditation on the nature of ambition and contentment” on the Toronto stage

We’ve had a solid decade of immersion in social media. The internet itself has become such an essential, integrated part of our daily lives that it often requires us to ask probing questions about the nature of human interaction and the possibilities of personalized technology. With similar thematic concerns as Black Mirror, Scapegoat Collective’s production of Daniel Pagett’s Cloud (currently playing at Artscape Sandbox), delves into some very intriguing speculative fiction. Continue reading Review: Cloud (Scapegoat Collective)

Review: Pool [No Water] (Cue6)

Pool (No Water) is a “haunting and darkly amusing tale” on the Toronto stage

Pool (No Water) is perhaps the type of story that speaks to me most deeply. It seduces, cleverly—almost covertly—draws you in and then, once you feel safe and invested, demands your complicity in thoughts, feelings and actions that are, on the surface, deeply repugnant. At the Citadel Theatre, Cue6 is offering a very special gift to the Toronto theatre scene: their vibrant and compelling production of Mark Ravenhill’s fascinating play. Continue reading Review: Pool [No Water] (Cue6)

Review: Songbuster — An Improvised Musical (Songbuster)

Three more chances to catch this hilarious musical improv on stage in Toronto

I just saw my first improvised musical and I was thoroughly entertained and impressed with the efforts of the company behind Songbuster — An Improvised Musical. After prying into the summer adventures of an audience member, the team have their setting and begin building a story and characters out of thin air. Suddenly, the cabaret space at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre becomes a hippy commune on Vancouver Island where lost families are found, romance is kindled and all manor of crises are created and averted! Continue reading Review: Songbuster — An Improvised Musical (Songbuster)

Review: Burn This (Gracemoon Arts Company)

Burn This is “gritty” and “intense” theatre that captivates Toronto audiences

I enjoy all kinds of theatre, from the grand spectacle of mega musicals to the gritty naturalism of kitchen sink dramas. I have a particular obsession, though, with gritty and intense productions in unconventional venues. I am also drawn to poetic narratives where the language itself takes you to a very special place. With their stunning production of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This, Gracemoon Arts Company has crafted a theatrical experience that seems tailored to my very specific sensibilities. Continue reading Review: Burn This (Gracemoon Arts Company)

Review: The Boy in the Moon (Crow’s Theatre)

“Deeply moving” The Boy in the Moon graces the Toronto stage

Crow’s Theatre’s production of The Boy in the Moon, currently playing at their stunning new venue Streetcar Crowsnest, opens with a father leading us through a late night struggle to put his son to back to bed. He describes the scene with an off-the-cuff rhythm that makes it seem commonplace, but we soon discover that it is anything but. His son Walker has a myriad of disabilities caused by a rare genetic disorder (CFC), turning this standard domestic task into an adventure full of humour and horror and love. Continue reading Review: The Boy in the Moon (Crow’s Theatre)

Review: Proof (Theatre UnBlocked)

Proof exceeds expectations, on stage at the Red Sandcastle in Toronto

It seems my thing recently is seeing Pulitzer Prize winning plays at the Red Sandcastle Theatre. I figure the Pulitzer means the play itself will likely be pretty good, and I always love the intimacy of that Queen East venue. So it was with high expectations that I took in Theatre UnBlocked’s production of David Auburn’s Proof.

It exceeded those expectations. Continue reading Review: Proof (Theatre UnBlocked)

Review: Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre & Acting Up Stage Company)

Passing Strange is a “sexy, poignant” coming-of-age story, on stage at Toronto’s Opera House

Pssst, hey you! Are you looking for a good time? You like music? You like stories? Forget about La La Land for a moment and get yourself over to The Opera House to see Obsidian Theatre/Acting Up Stage Company’s production of Passing Strange. Written by Stew (in collaboration with Heidi Rodewald and Annie Dorsen), it fuses R&B, soul, and punk rock to tell the story of a Black youth from late ’70s South Central Los Angeles who goes abroad on a journey of self-discovery.

I loved this show so much! I want to tell you ALL OF THE THINGS. But I don’t want to overwhelm and confuse you, so let me bring my still-tapping feet in line and put my thoughts in proper order. Continue reading Review: Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre & Acting Up Stage Company)

Review: Rabbit Hole (Deelen with Trouble)

Rabbit Hole is an “astonishing” and “real” story about family loss, on stage in Toronto

Deelen with Trouble’s production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Rabbit Hole, currently playing at Red Sandcastle Theatre, is an astonishing piece of theatre. In it, a family deals with the loss of a child. Stated plainly, the premise sounds banal and depressing but this play is funny, intelligent and deeply moving without ever becoming trite or saccharine. Continue reading Review: Rabbit Hole (Deelen with Trouble)