All posts by Jen Norman

Review: Jerusalem (Outside the March/Company Theatre/Starvox Entertainment)

Jerusalem is a “a fable for a gentrified generation” on the Toronto stage

The Canadian premiere of Jerusalem, written by English writer Jez Butterworth, took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, both on stage and off, to produce. This is apparent from two things. The first is (are) the numerous companies that collaborated to make the Toronto production happen, namely Outside the March, The Company Theatre, and Starvox Entertainment. The second is the immaculately-crafted, unrelenting, coo-coo-bananas-craziness in every moment of this performance.

The play takes place throughout the course of nine hours in the woods of Wiltshire, a county in the south-west of England. In these woods lives Johnny “Rooster” Byron, ex-daredevil and local troublemaker, who is about to be evicted from his caravan so that condos can be built on the land.

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Review: Tap Ex: Forbidden (Tapestry Opera)

Toronto’s Tapestry Opera fuses opera with Persian music for a new experimental opera

“You’ve probably never seen anything like this before,” says Tapestry Opera‘s general director Michael Hidetoshi Mori, also the director of Tap Ex: Forbidden, the latest in the company’s series of new, experimental operas. Although it’s uncommon for a director to appear on stage prior to a performance to explain their creative rationale, it’s an unusual show, and a little bit of encouragement makes it more accessible and rewarding.

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Review: IMP (Filament Incubator/Epigraph Collective)

IMP, at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, is an occult-driven play that leaves you “breathless”

Created by Epigraph Collective and produced by Filament Incubator, IMP is a drama that weaves together social justice and the occult in a narrative that is both emotionally raw and stylistically disciplined. I can’t think of the last time a theatrical performance rendered me motionless and breathless for the duration of its run time, but by god, this play did it.

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Review: Evil Dead: The Musical (Starvox Entertainment)

The cult-classic horror/comedy musical dazzles Toronto audiences again

Currently touring across North America, Evil Dead: The Musical is currently on its stop in Toronto. This marks a triumphant return to the city in which the musical first debuted in 2003, and it’s hardly slowed down since. As much fun as I had at this show, it makes me wonder if my job as a theatre critic isn’t a wee bit redundant. I am supposed to unpack this production, and explain its quality in layman’s terms, and whether you, dear readers, should see it. The thing is, this show speaks pretty well for itself.

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Review: Flashing Lights (Bad New Days/Ahuri Theatre)

Photo of Dan Watson by Francesca ChudnoffFlashing Lights delivers a heavy dose of theatre realism on stage in Toronto

Science fiction is a very tricky genre to pull off in a sphere such as independent performing arts. This is something that the creators at Bad News Days and Ahuri Theatre must have been aware of, given their bold, “challenge accepted” attitude in the concept and execution of Flashing Lights.

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Review: Two Gentlewomen of Verona (Dauntless City Theatre)

Photo from Two Gentlewomen of VeronaDauntless City Theatre presents an al fresco gender-bent Two Gentlewomen of Verona in Toronto

Theatre’s greatest triumph as a medium is getting us to engage in dialogue and ask questions. Dauntless City Theatre‘s latest production poses an age-old question: would it be awesome to do a gender-bent, inter-sectional feminist, immersive adaptation of Two Gentlemen of Verona with a dog wearing a tiny cowboy hat? Yes, yes it would.

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Review: Girl Crush (Musical Stage Company/CanStage)

Sharron MatthewsOne-person show takes to the Toronto stage with hopeful and funny messages

Just in case Shakespeare isn’t your jam (we won’t judge), Toronto’s High Park Amphitheatre provided a quick break from the Bard this week for local funny lady Sharron Matthews and her cabaret show Girl Crush. Co-produced by The Musical Stage Company and Canadian Stage, Sharron spends a delightful hour with us dishing out personal stories interwoven with melodic covers of old favourite tunes about heartbreak and insecurity.

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Lysistrata (how.dare.collective.) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

The female cast of Lysistrata. L to R: Amanda Lundgren, Brittany Cope, Stella Saint, Amanda McKnight, Jenna FC

Burlesque, Greek Theatre, and Resistance collide in how.dare.collective’s adaptation of Lysistrata, performing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival. First written and performed in ancient Athens by playwright Aristophanes, it is commonly found on the required reading list for most theatre undergrads. This production, however, is anything but a snoozer.

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