All posts by Sam Mooney

Always a theatre lover Sam realized in middle age that there's more to Toronto theatre than just mainstream and is now in love with one person shows, adores festivals, and quirky venues make her day.

Review: The Humans (Canadian Stage and Citadel Theatre)

Cast of The Humans, Bluma Appel Theatre, Feb 2017

Tony-winning play The Humans takes to the Toronto stage!

Stephen Karam’s Tony award winning play, The Humans, opened at the Bluma Appel Theatre on Thursday evening. It’s a comedy/drama, funnier earlier on and more dramatic later, about a family Thanksgiving dinner that unfolds in real time, at just under two hours.

We’ve probably all experienced special occasion family dinners like this. Mom, Dad, Grandma (in this case Momo), and the adult kids get together. There’s joking and teasing and bickering and unsolicited advice and sometimes real tension. People talk over each other, little groups form, break apart, and form new groups; people laugh, sometimes they yell, sometimes they cry. They did in my family. And that’s what my friend Patricia and I loved about The Humans; they seemed like a real family. Continue reading Review: The Humans (Canadian Stage and Citadel Theatre)

Review: Jewel (Shotgun Juliet)

Pip Dwyer in JewelJewel, a one-woman play about the aftermath of the Ocean Ranger disaster opens in Toronto

Shotgun Juliet’s production of Jewel opened on Wednesday at Red Sandcastle Theatre. It’s a perfect venue; small and intimate, the audience could reach out and touch the actors – if that wasn’t an incredibly inappropriate thing to do.

Jewel is an intimate, one woman play written by Joan MacLeod. It looks at the aftermath of the Ocean Ranger disaster through the eyes of the young widow of one of the 84 men killed when it sank on February 15, 1982. It was written in 1987 when it wasn’t as common as it is now to look at disasters through the eyes of the survivors. It’s poignant without being maudlin. I really liked everything about it. Continue reading Review: Jewel (Shotgun Juliet)

Review: Omission (Alumnae Theatre)

Photo of Evan Walsh and Thomas O'Neill in OmissionAlumnae Theatre in Toronto celebrates 100 years of female-run theatre with Omission

Friday wasn’t exactly 100 years since Alumnae Theatre presented their first play in Toronto; it was 99 years and 25 days. Close enough. Alumnae is the longest running female-run theatre company in North America — definitely cause for a celebration. And celebrate they did with balloons, cupcakes, and a special cocktail before the world premier of Omission by Alice Abracen.

I love theatre that entertains me and makes me think without ever feeling like I’m being beaten over the head. It can be difficult to raise moral questions and teach lessons about morality without becoming didactic. Abracen does it with ease; she’s a playwright to watch. The play is wonderful — compelling plot, interesting characters, and great character development. I love that her dialogue includes the little throwaway lines and quips that are part of everyday conversation. Anne Harper directs an impressive cast with ease. Continue reading Review: Omission (Alumnae Theatre)

Review: True Crime on Tour (Crow’s Theatre presents The Castleton Massive Production)

Photo of Torquil Campbell in True Crime, Crows Theatre, January 2018Crow’s Theatre presents True Crime on tour in Toronto until January 20, 2018

Torquil Campbell‘s one person show True Crime is on tour and Wednesday night was the opening of a short Toronto run at Streetcar Crowsnest‘s Scotiabank Community Theatre. It’s the story of Campbell’s interest in (or obsession with) Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter aka Clark Rockefeller, a conman who’s now in prison in California.

It’s a play about a play, specifically about Campbell making this play; about going to see Gerhartsreiter in prison, or not going to see Gerhartsreiter in prison. The audience doesn’t really know what’s true and what isn’t. It doesn’t matter. It’s about the play and the performance and both were wonderful. Continue reading Review: True Crime on Tour (Crow’s Theatre presents The Castleton Massive Production)

Review – The Tale of a Town – Canada (FIXT POINT)

Lisa Marie DiLiberto and Charles Ketchabaw in Tale of a Town Take a road trip across Canada in this new play, now on stage in Toronto

On Saturday, I saw The Tale of a Town – Canada at Theatre Passe Muraille. It was a relaxed performance, the first one I’ve been to. More about that later.

In 2014, husband and wife team Lisa Marie DiLiberto and Charles Ketchabaw set off on a series of road trips with their Storymobile (a portable recording studio) to visit all 10 provinces and three territories. Along the way, they interviewed around 3000 people about their towns and their memories. The Tale of a Town – Canada is the result. Continue reading Review – The Tale of a Town – Canada (FIXT POINT)

Review: Never Swim Alone (Don’t Look Down Theatre Company)

beach with clothes, Never Swim AloneA zany battle of words and wits between two alpha opponents takes the stage in Toronto

Daniel MacIvor‘s play Never Swim Alone opened on Friday at The Commons Theatre. It’s produced by the two year old Don’t Look Down Theatre Company and it’s the first play they’ve produced that they didn’t write. It was a big night for them. They did a fine job.

The play is a 75-minute stylized 13 round match between two alpha males, Bill (Ryan James) and Frank (Cedric Martin) who were childhood best friends, to see who is “the first man”. The Referee (Tyshia Drake) oversees the contest and determines the winner of each round. Continue reading Review: Never Swim Alone (Don’t Look Down Theatre Company)

Review: Heisenberg (Canadian Stage)

David Schurmann and Carly Street in HeisenbergThis tale of a chance meeting is charming and “gently funny”, on stage in Toronto

The Canadian Stage production of Simon StephensHeisenberg had its Canadian premiere at the Berkeley Street Theatre on Thursday. It’s the final play that Matthew Jocelyn is directing as Artistic and General Director and it’s a terrific note to end on.

The play is an unconventional love story that unfolds on an almost bare stage. There is nothing to distract from the acting which makes or breaks the piece, and the acting was fabulous. Continue reading Review: Heisenberg (Canadian Stage)

Review: A&R Angels (Crow’s Theatre)

Graham Cuthbertson, Kevin Drew, Ben Kowalewicz, and Maurice Dean Wint in A&R AngelsBroken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew debuts his new play A&R Angels at Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre

If I were giving a prize for the funniest, darkest opening scene in a play I’ve seen this year it would go to Crow’s Theatre production of A&R Angels, playing at Streetcar Crowsnest.

A man (Gordon S. Miller who is terrific as two “suiciders”) walks into a room, drinking a Slurpee. He finishes the drink, puts the cup on a table, climbs on a chair, and slips a noose around his neck. Enter the angels! Continue reading Review: A&R Angels (Crow’s Theatre)

Review: trace (Factory Theatre and b current performing arts)

Jeff Ho in traceToronto-based performer Jeff Ho interweaves piano with narrative storytelling in his play trace

Jeff Ho wrote, composed, and performs trace, a one person chamber play about his family, playing at Factory Studio Theatre. Ho is a talented musician as well as being a talented actor and both skills shine in this piece about three generations of women in his family.

The women, his great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother, are strong, granite-hard women, willing to do what is necessary to make a better life for their family. It’s a fascinating story. Continue reading Review: trace (Factory Theatre and b current performing arts)