Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review: Pool [No Water] (Cue6)

Pool (No Water) is a “haunting and darkly amusing tale” on the Toronto stage

Pool (No Water) is perhaps the type of story that speaks to me most deeply. It seduces, cleverly—almost covertly—draws you in and then, once you feel safe and invested, demands your complicity in thoughts, feelings and actions that are, on the surface, deeply repugnant. At the Citadel Theatre, Cue6 is offering a very special gift to the Toronto theatre scene: their vibrant and compelling production of Mark Ravenhill’s fascinating play. Continue reading Review: Pool [No Water] (Cue6)

Review: Other Side of the Game (Cahoots Theatre/Obsidian Theatre)

Photo of Ryan Rosery, Virgilia Griffith, Ordena Stephens-Thompson, Shakura Dickson, and Peter Baily in Other Side of the GameToronto’s Cahoots and Obsidian theatres co-produce writer Amanda Parris’ debut play

Other Side of the Game, currently being performed at Aki Studio, is the first professionally produced play by Amanda Parris. She is definitely someone to keep an eye on in the future. Her play is a powerfully written piece that gives voice to the often-unheard stories of Black women in Toronto. Continue reading Review: Other Side of the Game (Cahoots Theatre/Obsidian Theatre)

Review: Salt-Water Moon (Mirvish)

Photo of Kawa Ada and Mayko NguyenSizzing performances in David French’s play Salt-Water Moon presented in Toronto by Mirvish

Salt-Water Moon, written by Canadian playwright David French follows two lovers in Mary and Jacob as they fight for one last chance at a relationship set under a blanket of stars in 1920’s Newfoundland.

Factory Theatre‘s version of Salt-Water Moon feels like the type of show you would come across in a small studio space off some alleyway somewhere, yet it manages to work beautifully on the bare, Panasonic stage with nothing but a smoky haze and flickering candles as a back drop. Continue reading Review: Salt-Water Moon (Mirvish)

Review: The Chance (Leroy Street Theatre)

Fiona Reid, Claire Burn and Anne van Leeuwen in The ChanceThe Chance, playing at the Assembly Theatre in Toronto, feels “real” with “true” interactions

Hands up anyone else who has never seen a play by George F. Walker. Nor had I until Saturday when I saw the world premier of The Chance at The Assembly Theatre. I’m not sure why I hadn’t seen any of his plays before this, it wasn’t a conscious decision; more a case of never being in the right place at the right time.

Now that I’ve seen one I’m looking forward to seeing more. The Chance is funny, suspenseful, and a social commentary that never hits you over the head. It has strippers, bad guys, mistaken identity, a moral decision, a dead guy, cell phones, and a loan shark. Continue reading Review: The Chance (Leroy Street Theatre)

Review: Flashing Lights (Bad New Days/Ahuri Theatre)

Photo of Dan Watson by Francesca ChudnoffFlashing Lights delivers a heavy dose of theatre realism on stage in Toronto

Science fiction is a very tricky genre to pull off in a sphere such as independent performing arts. This is something that the creators at Bad News Days and Ahuri Theatre must have been aware of, given their bold, “challenge accepted” attitude in the concept and execution of Flashing Lights.

Continue reading Review: Flashing Lights (Bad New Days/Ahuri Theatre)

Review: Tragedie of Lear (Tragedie of Lear)

Photo of Joella Crichton, Deborah Drakeford, Courtney Ch'ng Lancaster, and (Background) Walter Borden by Jon de LeonThe Tragedie of Lear presents a contemporary imagining of Shakespeare’s play in Toronto

The Tragedie of Lear, presented by the eponymous company at the Palmerston Library Theatre, seeks to help audiences connect to the supposedly “modern problem” of how adult children care for their parents, particularly those with mental illness, through the lens of a venerable tragedy.

Because of the age of the actor playing Lear, Walter Borden, the play has an alternate in case of illness. This was the case the afternoon I saw the play. If nobody had told me, I would have assumed Christopher Kelk was the original Lear all along. Surrounded by cast members who seemed to tower over him, he showed a mercurial disposition conflicting with subtle physical degeneration (the production worked with a neurological consultant). Moments of respite remind us that decline is not necessarily predictable or linear. I wish I’d been able to see both Lears for the full experience, but as Lear himself proves to us, time waits for no man.

Continue reading Review: Tragedie of Lear (Tragedie of Lear)

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mirvish)

Fabulously staged Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time comes to the Toronto stage

When you enter the Princess of Wales theatre for Mirvish’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, you’re essentially walking into a giant cube made up of grids and pinpoints of light. Everything is mathematically precise, with the entire world of the stage sectioned off into regimented squares and shapes. This is the world of Christopher Boone, a 15-year-old math genius who has what the book the play is based on describes as “behavioural difficulties.” Continue reading Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mirvish)

Review: Arabella (Canadian Opera Company)

Canadian Opera Company brings shades of grey to Arabella to the Toronto stage

The final collaboration of Richard Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arabella is either a deceptively grim meditation on love in society, a typical comedy of manners, a proto-feminist parable of the volatile position of women in the marriage market, or a light and frothy romance. Sometimes it can be all of these things at once. I’m not entirely sure which The Canadian Opera Company‘s adaptation of Strauss’ Arabella wants to be — but that very ambiguity is what makes it interesting. Continue reading Review: Arabella (Canadian Opera Company)

Review: The Adventures Of Tom Shadow (Theatre Lab)

Photo of Mark Little, Natalie Metcalfe, Christian Smith, Kevin Vidal and Lisa Gilroy.Tom Shadow  is “charming” and “outrageous,” now on the Toronto stage

As I read through the program for Theatre Lab’s recent venture—The Adventures of Tom Shadow—I notice that they chose to title it a “comedy musical” and not a “musical comedy.” Smart move, because the musical theatre geek in me may have been disappointed with the lack of kick lines. No worries though, because The Adventures of Tom Shadow was everything I could have wanted and more in a “comedy musical,” if those are a thing? Are they a thing? Let’s make them a thing now.

Continue reading Review: The Adventures Of Tom Shadow (Theatre Lab)

Review: L’elisir d’amore/Elixir of Love (Canadian Opera Company)

Canadian Opera Company’s Elixir of Love, now on stage in Toronto, is “good, simple fun”

The backdrop for the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of L’elisir d’amore (Gaetano Donizetti, 1832) glides us into a small, unspoiled pastoral village. It seems impossible that war could ever disturb such a place, but it is 1914 in small town Ontario… Continue reading Review: L’elisir d’amore/Elixir of Love (Canadian Opera Company)

Review: Bello (Young People’s Theatre)

Gabriel Gagnon, Nicole St. Martin and Morgan Yamada in Bello at YPTYoung People’s Theatre presents Bello, a folktale with scary moments, on stage in Toronto

On Wednesday afternoon my grandson Desmond and I went to see Bello at Young People’s Theatre. It’s billed as suitable for kids from six to nine years old. Desmond is six years and three weeks old. It was his expert opinion that one of the classes attending the performance was a kindergarten class and that the kids weren’t six yet. They seemed to manage just fine.

Bello is essentially a folktale “about a time when there were no phones, no cars, and no light bulbs…” and a young boy named Bern who gets lost in the snow on his way back from school. Continue reading Review: Bello (Young People’s Theatre)