The Little Prince gets a contemporary update in a new family play now on stage in Toronto
A few minutes into the The Little Prince: Reimagined all you can hear is the rustle of paper being folded. Almost everyone in the audience is making a paper airplane. Most people are carefully following Richard Lam’s tutorial from the stage; some are winging it, following some half-remembered instructions from childhood. Kids in the audience seem to be following their adult’s lead.
When the rustling dies down and the chatter picks up Lam invites us to throw the planes at him. It’s a delightful start to a charming play. Continue reading Review: The Little Prince: Reimagined (Puzzle Piece)
Toronto’s Alumnae Theatre previews new plays in development at their New Ideas Festival
One of the really nice things about the New Ideas Festival at Alumnae Theatre is that it’s juried. While some of the plays may not be to your taste at least you know that they are chosen because the jury believes they have merit. The festival has been running for 31 years so they’re doing something right.
I always look forward to this opportunity to see new works and works-in-progress from experienced and emerging playwrights. The festival runs for three weeks and each week the format is the same; three or four short pieces make up the main program with a rehearsed reading of a new piece on Saturday at noon. The program is different each week. Continue reading Review: New Ideas Festival 2019 – Week 3 (Alumnae Theatre, Ilana Linden, Simone Goldberg and Meredith Heinrich)
Dark comedy Mules is funny yet tragic, playing at the Streetcar Crowsnest Theatre in Toronto
MULES is billed as a dark comedy about friendship and drug smuggling. It is funny but more in the first half of the show. Things get pretty tragic after that. It’s about two women, both of whom have fairly hard lives. Crystal (Eva Barrie) is a single mom, she got pregnant on prom night, who works at a supermarket and is a new mule -a drug smuggler. Cindy (Anita Majumdar) is an exotic dancer, sometime drug dealer, maybe sex worker who doesn’t have a job and owes serious money to her dangerous boyfriend Sully, and is a wannabe trafficker.
The play is about the desperate decisions people will make when they feel powerless and trapped with no way out. Continue reading Review: MULES (Theatrefront in association with Hit and Myth)
Exciting negotiations take centre stage in Oslo, playing in Toronto
Oslo – a Studio 180 Theatre production playing at the CAA Theatre as part of the Off-Mirvish Season – is remarkable theatre.
Who would expect that a play about peace negotiations would be so thrilling, engaging, and witty, that almost three hours would pass in what feels like no time?
Continue reading Review: Oslo (Studio 180 Theatre production, presented by David Mirvish)
An interactive look at breakup recovery at the 2019 Progress Festival playing in Toronto
Haley McGee’s‘ The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale, curated and presented by the red light district and Outside the March for the 2019 Progress Festival, is a lesson on how to turn sentimental value into cold, hard cash. ‘Can’t be done.’ you might say. Yes, it can, and McGee has the formula to prove it. Continue reading 2019 Progress Review: The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale (Ted Witzel)
Mary’s Wedding opened this week at Streetcar Crowsnest. It was first performed in 2002 and even though it’s been performed professionally more than 100 times across Canada and around the world this is the first time it’s been professionally performed in Toronto. Director Kent Staines production is wonderful, worth waiting for.
The play is set just before, during, and just after World War I. It opens with one of the characters, Charlie (Fraser Elsdon) telling the audience that this is June 1920, the night before Mary’s (Kate Ross) wedding and what follows is just a dream. He says that it begins at the end and ends at the beginning. It took me until I was writing this to understand what that meant. Continue reading Review: Mary’s Wedding (Solo Productions, Mary Young Leckie and Derrick Chua)
Tight, accessible politics in this engaging Toronto production
Michael Healey’s play, 1979, opened at the Berkeley Street Theatre on Thursday. As I wrote this, I realized that 1979 was 40 years ago. I know that, but I hadn’t really internalized it; to me it feels a lot more recent than that. I’m pretty sure that to a lot of the audience it feels like the olden days. Before the play started, I wondered how many of them would relate to the subject matter: Joe Clark’s short lived term as Prime Minister. Joe Who?
It doesn’t really matter. Political machinations are easy to recognize even if they’re 40 years old. It was great for the older crowd, a walk down a political memory lane. My friend Patricia has always been very involved in the community side of politics and I’ve always been a political observer. This is our kind of play. For younger people, it was terrific political satire. Continue reading Review: 1979 (The 1979 Group)
This audience participation-heavy play on stage at Toronto’s Berkeley Street Theatre is a delight
The two things that are central to Every Brilliant Thing are a list of wonderful things that make life worth living, and audience participation – which would never make any list of mine. Director Brendan Healy and actor Kristen Thomson make audience participation – a lot of participation – seem normal by making the audience a necessary part of the play. It would be fair to bill it as “Every Brilliant Thing featuring Kristen Thomson and 50 audience members”.
Healy makes the play feel unusual by staging it in the round and having the lights on through the performance. It’s a very bare bones set, just the stage with a few strings of light bulbs overhead, so it doesn’t feel particularly theatrical. It felt more like a lecture theatre. As they arrive, some members of the audience are given a slip of paper with a number and a word or phrase on it. When Thomson says a number whoever has it reads what’s on their paper. Audience members are also chosen to be a vet, the father, a teacher, a professor, and a boyfriend. They all do fine jobs. Continue reading Review: Every Brilliant Thing (Canadian Stage)
When you’re a woman over 60 you rarely have an opportunity to see a character like yourself on stage. If you do they’re usually playing a minor part. What a gift to see the Soulpepper / Necessary Angel production of Caryl Churchill’s 2016 play, Escaped Alone. There are four characters in the play, all women, all over 60.
Churchill was 79 when she wrote the play. In it the characters are over 70. It’s wonderful because we see fabulous actors that we don’t very often get to see in ‘big’ parts any more. Continue reading Review: Escaped Alone (Soulpepper and Necessary Angel Theatre)
Secret Life of a Mother is a ” jewel of a play” on the Toronto stage
You should get your tickets for Secret Life of a Mother right now. While you’re at it, get one for your friend. The one who says she doesn’t like ‘theatre’, — “all that drama and those fake sounding voices.” It’s playing at The Theatre Centre and it’s wonderful. I loved it. You’ll love it. Your friend who doesn’t like things that feel dramatic will love it.
It’s hard for me to think of this as a play. Even though it was in a theatre with an audience it felt like an intimate evening with close friends, sharing stories about pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, and being a mother, the way that good friends do. Continue reading Review: Secret Life of a Mother (The SLOM Collective and The Theatre Centre)