Toronto Theatre Reviews

Shit I’m In Love With You Again (Crowning Monkey) 2018 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Rachelle Elie for Shit I’m In Love With You Again

Shit I’m In Love With You Again is Rachelle Elie’s autobiographical one-woman show presented by Crowning Monkey for the Toronto Fringe Festival. This bawdy musical takes the audience on a tour of teenage lust, family drama and therapy.

Taking a seat, my 80s childhood came flooding back to me as I was greeted by The Bangles’ Eternal Flame. Before me, was a stage decked out in pink and purple outfits and a sequinned backdrop. I knew I was in good, campy, capable hands.

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Box 4091 (timeshare) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo of mail from Box 4091 at SummerWorks 2018

Are you old enough to remember ads in the personals, life before online dating? Brian Francis is. In Box 4091, part of SummerWorks, he answers 13 replies to an ad he placed in the London Free Press in 1992 when he was 21. He found the letters recently and reread them. He hadn’t responded to them at the time, for various reasons. To me, it’s amazing that he kept the letters in the first place.

Francis starts with some background about why he placed the ad, about how difficult it was to live in a house with four straight men, that it was hard to meet other men, and that he was only emerging from the closet, not everyone knew he was gay.

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Swim Team (Nowadays Theatre) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo from Swim Team at SummerworksSwim Team, a play by Jaber Ramezani, had it’s premier on Sunday at SummerWorks. In the program it says the play is “Inspired by real stories from the world of women’s sports in post-revolutionary Iran…”

The story follows a swimming coach who moves to a place with no water after her students drown in a swimming pool, and the three young women who want her to teach them to swim. Continue reading Swim Team (Nowadays Theatre) 2018 SummerWorks Review

A Room To Perform (Katie Lyle/Shelby Wright)/YES (Linnea Swan) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Linnea Swan by Tim Nguyen

A Room To Perform/YES, a double bill created by Katie Lyle and Shelby Wright and Linnea Swan respectively, and now playing at the 2018 SummerWorks Festival, is an interesting duo. Both pieces have to do with restrictions in dance, but one embraces the restrictions, while the other rebels against them. It’s hard to be the clinical rules-follower when the cool renegade shows up, so I feel the former show suffers a bit from the pairing, even if it holds its own.

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the aisha of is (Sasha John Technique) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Aisha Sasha John provided by the artist

the aisha of is, presented by Sasha John Technique and performed by Aisha Sasha John at the 2018 SummerWorks Festival, is one of those performance pieces that you just have to cheerfully admit is not created for you, and that’s okay.

The only thing is, I’m not completely sure who it’s for. Primarily, it feels like hallmarks of mystifying ritual that culminate in a cathartic experience for a committed performer; a ritual that, for the most part, I was only allowed to glimpse.

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Adrenaline (Theatre Mada) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Ahmad Meree in Adrenaline at 2018 Summerworks

On Saturday afternoon I saw 35 minutes of amazing, heartrending, theatre performed in Arabic with English subtitles. Adrenaline is produced by Theatre Mada in Kitchener, a collective of Arab theatre artists living in the Waterloo Region, and is part of SummerWorks.

I watch movies and TV with subtitles often, probably about 20% of the time. For some reason, it never occurs to me to see theatre in languages other than English or French. I guess I assume there wouldn’t be subtitles. I don’t know why I’d assume that. Continue reading Adrenaline (Theatre Mada) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Cafe Sarajevo episode 1 (bluemouth inc.) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Image of cast from Cafe Sarajevo

bluemouth inc. has brought together a unique, engaging, and thought-provoking immersive performance to the 2018 SummerWorks Festival. Café Sarajevo is a performance inspired by the 1971 televised debate between French theorist Michel Foucault and American linguist Noam Chomsky.

It takes the form of a live podcast that explores the idea of borders that divide and unite humanity. Through the use of recorded elements, virtual reality, text, audience participation, dance, and music, this experience is lively, exciting and unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

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fantasylover (Rock Bottom Movement) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo of the company of fantasylover by Alyssa Martin

From its title, you might expect fantasylover, presented by Rock Bottom Movement at the 2018 SummerWorks Festival, to be a fluffy, bright, shiny and candy-coated romp of a dance show. It’s not. It’s funny and quirky, but there’s a screaming, twitching violence beneath its veneer of butt-baring leotards; aesthetically, it’s the feminist dance equivalent of a Hieronymous Bosch painting. That artist, famous for his depictions of naked, contorted figures on a hellscape background, would have approved of these women who aren’t afraid to go grotesque.

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Lion Womxn (The Amy Project) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Photo of cast of Lion Womxn Summerworks 2018Arriving about four minutes late for Lion Womxn, The Amy Project’s production for SummerWorks because of a streetcar backup, I had to discretely text my editor to let her know that I had indeed made it in after all, and then dig in my bag for a pen and my notebook.

About 10 minutes into the show I realized that there were going to be tears involved – mine – but I really didn’t want to dig in my bag again, looking for tissues, unless it was really necessary. It wasn’t. I did cry through a lot of the piece but they were the kind of tears I could manage without kleenex. They were tears of sadness, recognition, regret, and admiration. It wasn’t all tears, I laughed too. Continue reading Lion Womxn (The Amy Project) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Truthteller (Lady Janitor) 2018 SummerWorks Review

Truthteller, presented by Lady Janitor at the 2018 SummerWorks Festival, is one of the final two shows in a series of works (the other, also at SummerWorks, is The Reckoning). This was my first Lady Janitor experience, and I believe the work stands alone. It’s Performance Art, with a capital P.A., that walks the edge of taking itself too seriously, but doesn’t quite fall off the cliff.

Part salon, part physical trust exercise, part crystals and glitter and part singalong, it succeeds or fails primarily on how willing you are to go with it and participate in the experience. If you want and are prepared for that, it’s a good time. If you’re looking for cohesion and structure instead of vignettes and moments, you may have a rough trip.

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Review: Mamma Mia! (Mirvish)

Photo of the cast of Mama MiaTake a chance on the ‘ABBA-solutely’ fabulous musical on stage in Toronto for a limited time.

On stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre for a limited engagement, produced by Mirvish, Mamma Mia! finds refuge in audacity – literally. Directly from the UK and performing in Toronto as part of an international tour, everyone involved makes the most of the time they’re given with us.

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