Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review: Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre & Acting Up Stage Company)

Passing Strange is a “sexy, poignant” coming-of-age story, on stage at Toronto’s Opera House

Pssst, hey you! Are you looking for a good time? You like music? You like stories? Forget about La La Land for a moment and get yourself over to The Opera House to see Obsidian Theatre/Acting Up Stage Company’s production of Passing Strange. Written by Stew (in collaboration with Heidi Rodewald and Annie Dorsen), it fuses R&B, soul, and punk rock to tell the story of a Black youth from late ’70s South Central Los Angeles who goes abroad on a journey of self-discovery.

I loved this show so much! I want to tell you ALL OF THE THINGS. But I don’t want to overwhelm and confuse you, so let me bring my still-tapping feet in line and put my thoughts in proper order. Continue reading Review: Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre & Acting Up Stage Company)

Review: The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down (Toronto Irish Players)

Part-Musical, Part-Comedy, Part-Drama is a “fun night out” at the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto

The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down, currently on stage at The Alumnae Theatre, is part musical, part comedy, and part drama as per director Michael Hiller’s program notes. I was intrigued to see how all of these parts would coalesce, and enjoyed how everything came together for an entertaining show.

Set in a small pub in County Cavan on St. Stephen’s night 2007, the show opens with the characters celebrating the assumed birthday of local bar regular The Horse (Ian McGarrett). Dramas are slowly revealed throughout the first half, with bartender Barney (Stephen Flett) finding himself in a particular mess because of his separate dalliances with two of the bar’s patrons. Continue reading Review: The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down (Toronto Irish Players)

Review: Breath In Between (Crow’s Theatre)

Breath in Between vacillates between “artifice and symbolism”, on stage in Toronto

“I’m sick of all this artifice,” proclaims Roger, the main character of Anton Piatigorsky’s Breath In Between. Coming about two-thirds of the way through the Crow’s Theatre show playing at Streetcar Crowsnest, it’s a meta moment, as this is a show that trades heavily on artifice and symbolism.

In fact, it walks a fine line between artifice and painful earnestness, as it attempts to ponder the constantly-switching sacred and profane in human connection. It’s a complicated and dark show about deeply unpleasant people, with a philosophical bent that intrigues and irritates in equal measure. Breath In Between will stay with you, and it’s never boring, but for a show that’s all about the heart, it’s difficult to love.

Continue reading Review: Breath In Between (Crow’s Theatre)

Review: Elephant Girls (Red Sandcastle Theatre)

Elephant Girls is an entertaining, gender-bending piece of theatre, on stage in Toronto

In post war era London, an all female gang called the Forty Elephants were notorious for theft and extortion. Now Margo MacDonald, as both playwright and performer, brings them to life in in Elephant Girls, onstage at Red Sandcastle theatre as part of The Wilde Festival.

With intimidating poise and a sly script that balances between understated pathos and thrilling adventure, MacDonald’s show is sure to please anyone with an interest in history, queerness, or just an entertaining seventy minutes in the theatre. Continue reading Review: Elephant Girls (Red Sandcastle Theatre)

John & Waleed (Theatre Passe Muraille and Cahoots Theatre)

Photo of John Millard and Waleed Abdulhamid by Michael Cooper

John & Waleed Bridge Worlds and Harmonies at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille

I walked into to John & Waleed, now playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace, expecting an afternoon of pleasant tunes from the eponymous creators/performers John Millard and Waleed Abdulhamid, but I was worried that this show featuring “harmonies” created out of “dissonant upbringings” would be too easy on our increasingly troubled times.

Fortunately John & Waleed proved me wrong by subtly provoking complicated questions on identity and history rather than placating them.

Continue reading John & Waleed (Theatre Passe Muraille and Cahoots Theatre)

Review: One Step at a Time (Andrew Prashad)

Andrew Prashad’s one-person show lands on the Toronto stage

You know how once in a while you leap to your feet at the end of a performance and it’s almost an involuntary reaction? That was me – and the rest of the audience – on Saturday evening after seeing Andrew Prashad in his one-person show One Step at a Time at the Randolph Theatre. Continue reading Review: One Step at a Time (Andrew Prashad)

Review: Deceitful Above All Things (The Storefront Theatre and Favour The Brave Collective)

Photo of Genevieve Adam and John Fitzgerald Jay in Deceitful Above All Things Storefront Theatre presents a tale of discovery in the new world, on stage in Toronto

The ‘new world’ is more than just a struggle to survive, it’s also a struggle to let go of who you really are in the wilderness. The Storefront Theatre’s Deceitful Above All Things — done in association with Favour The Brave Collective — playing at the Factory Theatre Studio attempts to strip away historical veneers of Canada in the 1600’s to get at the humanity underneath.

While there’s a wealth of material, I can’t help but think all that focus on humanity also lost some of the plot.

Continue reading Review: Deceitful Above All Things (The Storefront Theatre and Favour The Brave Collective)

Review: Five Faces For Evelyn Frost (Canadian Stage and Theatre francais de Toronto)


Five Faces for Evelyn Frost experiments with social media to tell a story, on stage in Toronto

A quintet of youthful white-appearing actors, rapidly changing projection of photographs, bright white light, onslaught of short declarative sentences, nonlinear storytelling — taken together, these form most of the new show Five Faces For Evelyn Frost at Canadian Stage. If two or more of these appeal to you, you might find Five Faces For Evelyn Frost an appealing artistic work. I did not.

Continue reading Review: Five Faces For Evelyn Frost (Canadian Stage and Theatre francais de Toronto)

Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (George Brown Theatre)

George Brown showcases promising talent on stage in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

If you’re in need of some Shakespeare, then you can get your fix in the distillery district this month. The George Brown School of Performing Arts is putting on a double feature of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It at The Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

This is strictly a review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When I first saw the posting, I naively assumed that it was some sort of mashup, selection of scenes, or drastically cut versions being performed together. This isn’t the case: if you go on a given night you’ll be seeing one or the other, and in my case it was Midsummer. Continue reading Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (George Brown Theatre)