Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review: Proof (Theatre UnBlocked)

Proof exceeds expectations, on stage at the Red Sandcastle in Toronto

It seems my thing recently is seeing Pulitzer Prize winning plays at the Red Sandcastle Theatre. I figure the Pulitzer means they play itself will likely be pretty good, and I always love the intimacy of that Queen East venue. So it was with high expectations that I took in Theatre UnBlocked’s production of David Auburn’s Proof.

It exceeded my expectations. Continue reading Review: Proof (Theatre UnBlocked)

Review: The Orange Dot (Theatrefront)

Daniela Vlaskalic and Shawn Dolye in The Orange Dot by John LauenerThe Orange Dot lands on the Toronto stage with provocative but mixed messages

The Orange Dot, as presented by Theatrefront at the new Streetcar Crowsnest Theatre, is a nuanced, intelligent look at gender relations in the 21st century… until it was not. The production held me and my companion captive until it erupted into an ending that tried to bite off more than it could chew. Continue reading Review: The Orange Dot (Theatrefront)

Review: Sousatzka (Teatro Proscenium/Garth Drabinsky)

Photo of Jordan Barrow and Victoria Clarke in SousatzkaGarth Drabinsky brings Sousatzka – A New Musical to the Toronto stage

Sousatzka – A New Musical marks the return of embattled theatre impresario Garth Drabinsky. The producer has mustered a team of experienced writers and production designers, each with Broadway credits galore on their resumes, as well as a talented cast led by Tony Award-winning actors.

Sousatzka is making its world debut and playing a limited run in Toronto with hopes for a future run on Broadway. However, judging by what I saw of the show on opening night, I don’t think the show is ready for the Great White Way. Continue reading Review: Sousatzka (Teatro Proscenium/Garth Drabinsky)

Review: Everything Is Great Again (Second City)

Everything Is Great Again is funny, touching, and nuanced, and on stage in Toronto

The world is a bit of a mess these days. It always has been, but a couple of key events have made fighting the good fight feel even more exhausting. We’ve got to keep our fists up, but to do that sometimes we also need to laugh, and to cry, and to scream fruitlessly into the abyss. Everything Is Great Again, Second City‘s current Mainstage Revue, delivers catharsis on all of those levels. Continue reading Review: Everything Is Great Again (Second City)

Review: Stupidhead! (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Stupidhead! is “a show about all of us,” now playing on the Toronto stage

When I saw that Stupidhead!–a musical comedy about having dyslexia–was opening at Theatre Passe Muraille on March 22nd, I knew I had to see it. It’s essentially a one person autobiographical show, written and performed by Katherine Cullen; I’m a big fan of one person autobiographical shows. She co-wrote the lyrics with Britta Johnson, who wrote the music. I love musicals, and comedy, and I have dyslexia. It sounded like a perfect theatre match for me. And it was. Continue reading Review: Stupidhead! (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Review: Cage (Soulpepper)

Toronto’s Soulpepper presents the avant-garde theatre piece Cage as part of its new Solo Series

Every time I go to an art gallery, there’s always the weird room. You know the one I’m talking about: the dark room with black and white projections, noise music or static playing over the speakers. It’s the room that you walk into and think “what the hell is this?” but you feign interest if you’re on a date.

Cage is being put on by Soulpepper at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until March 25th. To me, it was a lot like the weird room at the art gallery, only instead of leaving after a few minutes, I watched it for an hour. I’m glad I did though; because regardless of my personal preferences going into it, I concede that this is a challenging piece that delicately toes the line between theatre and performance art. Continue reading Review: Cage (Soulpepper)

Review: Trigonometry (timeshare productions)

Rose Napoli and Daniel Ellis in "Trigonometry"Rob Kempson’s new play explores human relationships on Toronto stages

Trigonometry, a new play by Rob Kempson, takes to the stage at Factory Studio Theatre with an intriguing drama about relationships and power. Set in a high school and lightly associated with the mathematics from which the play takes its name, this was a well-acted and largely enjoyable exploration of human relationships.

I enjoyed revisiting the familiar domain of high school, centered in a visually interesting set filled with mathematical symbols and equations. The play benefitted from exploring the power difference between student Jackson (Daniel Ellis) and teachers Susan (Alison Deon) and Gabriella (Rose Napoli), though I wish the power dynamic had been pushed even further.

Continue reading Review: Trigonometry (timeshare productions)

Review: A City (Necessary Angel)

Necessary Angel explores theatre through tableaus at the Artscape Sandbox in Toronto

A City, based on playwright Greg MacArthur’s experiences in Montreal with a group of young theatre artists, bills itself as a version of a “tableau vivant” (a silent arrangement of human beings that forms a still picture). If you’re worried that means a lot of dead air on stage, don’t be; the emphasis in Necessary Angel’s production at Artscape Sandbox is definitely on the “vivant,” with near-constant motion and intimate connection with the audience in 65 quick minutes.

It’s fitting that the so-called tableaux are in motion, because the show revolves around liminal states, those moments in between when you can feel an ending coming (a life, an era, a friendship), but the realization hasn’t quite arrived. It’s a comment on our desire but ultimate inability to freeze time.

Continue reading Review: A City (Necessary Angel)

Review: Radiant Vermin (Precisely Peter Productions)

Radiant Vermin is a surprising, dark tale of real estate dreams, on stage in Toronto

I was a bit surprised when I arrived at what appeared to be a storefront in Kensington Market to see Precisely Peter Productions’ performance of Radiant Vermin by British playwright Philip Ridley. It transpired that the theatre space, Dirty Talk, is in the store’s basement, where we were welcomed warmly by director John Shooter offering cupcakes and fancy, fruity drinks.

Continue reading Review: Radiant Vermin (Precisely Peter Productions)

Review: Tartuffe (Scarborough Theatre Guild)

Tartuffe is a funny 17th century comedy, on stage at Scarborough Village Theatre

Showing at the Scarborough Village Theatre, Tartuffe is a playful 17th century story from Moliere that is colourfully staged and wonderfully performed. My guest, who knew the play as a student growing up in France, thought the English translation effectively captured the essence of the comedy. We were amused by the charade played by Tartuffe, the seemingly religious man who is far from pious. Attention, appearances can be deceiving!

Continue reading Review: Tartuffe (Scarborough Theatre Guild)

Review: Hard Core Logo: Live (BFL Theatre)

Hard Core Logo is “a great night of music and theatre” on the Toronto stage

Hard Core Logo has always held a special place in my cultural history; not only was the film by Bruce McDonald my introduction to Canadian film, it was also my introduction to the world of Punk. The names Joe Dick and Billy Tallent are icons in my cultural pantheon and songs like “Who the Hell Do You Think You Are” and “Something’s Gonna Die Tonight” fed my teenaged rebellion, something my previous musical interests (namely Celtic Folk and George Thorogood) didn’t exactly support.

It wasn’t the easiest revelation for me when I realized Hard Core Logo was a fictional band, specifically because it meant I would never get to see them live and scream those songs right back at the band while slam dancing. Thankfully BFL Theatre, working within their mandate to produce socially aware theatre, have brought a close approximation of my childhood dream to reality with their staging of Hard Core Logo: Live to the Dance Cave.

Continue reading Review: Hard Core Logo: Live (BFL Theatre)