All posts by Stephen Lubin

Overview: Toronto Sketchfest

Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival brings laughs to the Toronto stage!

The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival is on this week until March 11th, and it’s an absolute romp. If you get the chance, then you have to check out at least one of the many hilarious shows being put on throughout the city. I was lucky enough to see two at the Comedy Bar this past weekend.

Leaning on a high-chair, watching sketches with a pint of beer is very much my speed. Sketch and stand-up comedy are my jam, and I was very excited at the opportunity to kick back and give an overview of the festival, repping Toronto’s fantastic scene with locations you’ll rarely see in theatre reviews. There’s always something going on in the city, and I’d recommend a visit to one of our many comedy clubs anytime, but Sketchfest really is something to catch while you can.

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Review: Titus Andronicus (Hart House Theatre)

Hart House Theatre presents The Bard’s bloodiest tragedy, on stage in Toronto

Titus Andronicus, the bloodiest and possibly most infamous of Shakespeare’s tragedies is onstage now at Hart House Theatre. You won’t see this show being put on very often, so if you’re up for some particularly repulsive content, this is your chance.

To be honest, I knew little of Titus Andronicus going into this review, and I made a conscious decision to keep it that way. It seemed like a real treat to experience one of the bards’ tales with a fresh perspective. My guest Arun, despite being a seasoned actor who’s been in multiple Shakespeare productions, went in with a similar mindset. We were both excited going into Hart House theatre.

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Review: Krapp’s Last Tape (Theatre Passe Muraille)

This one-man show is “haunting” and “resonating”, at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto

Krapp’s Last Tape is a short play by Samuel Beckett about an old man looking back on a life lived alone and less-than-well. It isn’t the sort of thing you want to watch by yourself after being cancelled on twice, but that was my situation this past weekend. My friends missed out though, because Theatre Passe Muraille’s production makes for a spectacular and deeply intimate show.

Without a doubt, this is the best use of the Passe-Muraille’s Backspace that I’ve seen. Normally, the shows I see there come from small production companies that would want for a larger performance space if it were available to them. Here, Krapp’s Last Tape makes great use of the backspace’s intimacy. Continue reading Review: Krapp’s Last Tape (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Review: Marine Life (Tarragon)

Environmentally conscious theatre lights up the Tarragon stage in Toronto

Marine Life is an original romantic dramedy written and directed by Rosa Labordé, about a dysfunctional activist who falls for a selfish lawyer and persuades him to change his ways. It’s a cute, funny play with a great message to take home, encouraging the audience to be empathetic and caring activists. Marine Life is playing at Tarragon Theatre and I highly recommend giving it a watch.

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Review: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Hart House)

If you’re into rock musicals, then you’ll be excited to hear one of the big ones, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, is being put on by Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle) until October 7. It’s an energetic, emotional romp that I recommend checking out.

This production was actually my introduction to Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It’s one of those shows that I’ve always known of but never had the chance to see. I’m thrilled that I finally got that chance. It’s a rock musical that flits between high-energy, passionate songs, and sombre, soulful storytelling. Continue reading Review: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Hart House)

Review: The Last 5 Years (Theatre Here and Now)

The Last Five Years hit Toronto stages, but not all the right notes

The Last 5 Years was onstage this past weekend as the debut for new Toronto theatre company, Theatre Here and Now.

With a cast of just two characters, Cathy (Nicole Marie McCafferty) and Jamie (Armand Antony), The Last 5 Years is one of those shows that often appeals to small theatre troupes. In my opinion, it also has a lot going for it as an all-around fantastic musical: brilliant writing, incredible music, and a clever conceit where one character is moving backwards in time and the other forwards. Continue reading Review: The Last 5 Years (Theatre Here and Now)

Review: Picture This (Soulpepper)

Soulpepper’s season opens with Picture This, now playing on the Toronto stage

Along with Waiting for Godot, Soulpepper is kicking off its fall season with Picture This, which you can catch at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until Oct. 7th.

To me, Picture This seemed pretty promising at the outset. It’s a slapstick comedy originally written in 1937 by Hungarian playwright Melchior Lengyel and adapted by celebrated artists Brenda Robins and Morris Panych. I was looking forward to this show, and took my roommate along with 100% confidence that what we were going to see would at least be watchable.

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Party Today, Panic Tomorrow (The Second City Mainstage)

Second City’s newest sketch show delivers the laughs on the Toronto stage

If you’re looking for a great evening out, look no further than The Second City‘s Party Today (Panic Tomorrow), a new sketch revue that’s on until December 30th at their location on 51 Mercer St. That’s plenty of time to check this show out, and I recommend you do.

I love reviewing comedies, but I’ve never actually been to a Second City Mainstage show (only the children’s Christmas show). I left this production thinking I’d been missing out all these years. Continue reading Party Today, Panic Tomorrow (The Second City Mainstage)

Explosions for the 21st Century (Pressgang Theatre) SummerWorks Review 2017

Christopher Ross-Ewart’s show Explosions for the 21st Century isn’t just something to go see, it’s something to hear. It’s being put on at The Theatre Centre Incubator as part of SummerWorks 2017 And I really recommend you give it a watch and a listen.

Ross-Ewart is a sound designer, and among many other things this show is an ode to his passion for the craft. He gives off the air of a dorky tech-guy that’s been put up in front of an audience. He opens by cracking nervous jokes and then starts monologuing while using his soundboard as an aid. Almost immediately, you’ll realize that not only is Ross-Ewart very funny, he has a lot to say Continue reading Explosions for the 21st Century (Pressgang Theatre) SummerWorks Review 2017

Verisimilitude (Cawthra Park Secondary School) SummerWorks Review 2017

Verisimilitude is a grim, dystopian drama written and directed by Kat Schmael. It’s being put on at SummerWorks 2017 by Cawthra Secondary School atthe Pia Bouman – Scotiabank Studio Theatre (6 Noble Street) with just one more performance on August 13th.

Until the morning of, I didn’t realize that this was a high school production. Not that I wouldn’t see student theatre on my own time, but I’ve always felt uncomfortable at the prospect of reviewing it. However, I’m really glad to say that this production totally surpassed my expectations.

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