All posts by Vance Brews

Review: Superior Donuts (Coal Mine Theatre)

Strong central performances anchor Superior Donuts, now on stage in Toronto

Coal Mine Theatre‘s third submission in their 2016-17 season, Superior Donuts is a very contradictory play. It’s a populist narrative verging on sitcom that equally explores some extremely complicated and nuanced social issues, touching on the struggles of generational differences, cultural differences, the danger and appeal of gentrification and a host of other things that if I dig too deeply into will turn this into a thesis as opposed to a theatre review.

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Don’t Talk to Me Like I’m Your Wife (Call me Scotty Productions) 2016 SummerWorks Review

Don't Talk to me Like I'm Your WifeOn the SummerWorks webpage, the rollover blurb for Call me Scotty’s production of Don’t Talk to Me Like I’m Your Wife is “If the word Feminism makes you cringe, this isn’t the play for you”. This is very good advice. If, however, you’re interested in a nuanced discussion of modern feminism, its approach to history and the importance of intersectionality not to mention a well acted and written play, this is very much a play for you.

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This is the August (Young Prince Collective) 2016 SummerWorks Review

ThisistheAugust-400x320In today’s interconnected world, communication is a predominant theme throughout our lives. Whether it’s how we talk about ourselves, how we interact with each other or simply our medium of doing so, communication dominates our modern discourse. This is the August is a play that explores this complicated topic, along with things like gender identity, the growing divide between 2nd and 3rd Wave feminism and the exploitative nature of art itself. A heady addition to Toronto’s 2016 Summerworks Festival.

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Searching for Party (Arcturus Players) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Aaron Conrad, Patrick Fitzsimmons, Emma Gallaher, Dan GibbinsI wouldn’t exactly call myself a “gamer”. I like video games and spend a decent amount of time playing them, but with things like Gamergate and the often toxic environment of online gaming I generally try to distance myself from the culture outside of my own little bubble. When I sat down to watch Searching for Party I was a little nervous I was going to have to brave my way through that uncomfortable world.

Thankfully the Arcturus Players have chosen a much different direction, focusing instead on the humour and joy intrinsic to playing games and the possibilities that can arise from partaking in them.

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In Gods We Trust (The Lactors’ Studio) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Melanie Herben, Brent Vickar, Kerri Salata and Peter HamiwkaI’m a bit of a nut about Greek mythology and, like many people who have spent more than a few minutes on the internet, I’ve been unable to escape the gong show that is the US Presidential Election. In Gods We Trust from The Lactors’ Studio combines those two things into a piece of satire that I figured would be right up my alley and a solid addition to 2016’s Toronto Fringe Festival.

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Plays in Cafes (Shadowpath) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Vesna Radenkovic and Mandy Roveda

Plays in Cafes has returned to this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, this time with three new short pieces all set within the confines of Free Times Cafe on College.

The concept is simple: three plays that take place between two people while surrounded by an audience partaking in Free Times’ fare. This year Alex Karolyi returns with one piece, while Chris Widden and Sheila Toller bring new voices to the program. It appears that this year Shadowpath decided to step away from the domestic themes of 2015 and instead chose a more surrealist approach.

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Game 7 (MWB Productions) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Mark Kalzer, Raymond Ho and Magdalena BB

Game 7 by MWB Productions at 2016’s Toronto Fringe Festival is a play about miserable people. It’s also about fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which is pretty much the same thing (badump bump).

Written and performed by Mark Kalzer, Raymond Ho and Magdalena BB it chronicles the events that transpire between three friends as they watch the legendary collapse of the Leafs in their 2013 Playoff run. The play explores many themes like missed opportunities, failed dreams and abandonment while also exploring the ecstasy and agony of being a sports fan.

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King of the Castle (House of Rebels Theatre) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

KOTCKing of the Castle is a subversive piece of psychological theatre by House of Rebels Theatre that explores childhood trauma and abandonment in an emotionally draining, yet cathartic, hour at 2016’s Toronto Fringe Festival.

When you read King of the Castle’s synopsis, there’s a sense of what I would describe as whimsy attached to it; a young man finds one of his imaginary friends murdered and must reconnect with the other figments in his mind in order to solve the mystery. It’s a concept that made me imagine a brightly coloured set contrasted with a hard boiled detective story. King of the Castle is nothing like that.

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