Preview: 38th Rhubarb Festival (Buddies In Bad Times Theatre)

Well known for its genre-bending, experimental nature and risk-taking ethos, Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre is a wild ride of multiple short performances every night. In previous years I have had stories whispered in my ear, watched snippets of opera, voluntarily locked myself in a closet with clowns, thrilled to splendid choreography, watched rapt at profoundly honest storytelling, been issued an identity card that marks me forever as a Big Spoon, and more (so much more). A mix of emerging performers and established talents (often working in new idioms), it’s a delight for all the senses.

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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.

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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)

Review: Peace River Country (Tarragon Theatre)

The cast of "Peace River Country."Environmentalism and Faith feature in Peace River Country, now on stage in Toronto

Tarragon Theatre’s production of Peace River Country takes to the stage with the story of a rural Albertan family whose life is progressively destroyed by incoming gas-mining companies. The family fights back, the situation escalates, and the result is a suspenseful, well-crafted drama that resonates with today’s ongoing environmental struggles.

I loved Peace River Country; I thought the performances were superb, the production design thoughtful and creative, and the dialogue believable and well-written. But Peace River Country also has a very strong theme of Christianity, and I can imagine the centrality of this theme might be off-putting to some audience members.

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Review: My Night With Reg (Studio 180)

My Night with Reg is “fantastic” and “nuanced”, on stage at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto

My Night with Reg, a Studio 180 production, had it’s Canadian premier on Wednesday as part of the Off-Mirvish series. Based on the pull quotes on the poster at the theatre you could be forgiven for expecting a rollicking comedy. It’s witty and funny but it’s also honest and heartbreaking. It’s much more than a gay drawing room comedy. Continue reading Review: My Night With Reg (Studio 180)

Playlistings in Toronto for the week of February 13th

Shows That Caught Our Eye in Toronto the Week of February 13th

Hello loves! This week’s listings — appropriately for Valentine’s Week — feature tales of historical romance, parodies of fairytale romances, and of course a bit of burlesque! Toronto has an almost endless selection of shows this week, and to help you in your decision-making is our publisher Megan. She’s chosen a fews shows that caught her eye in red text. Check them out below the cut:

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Review (Kid +1): James and the Giant Peach (Young People’s Theatre)

Young People’s Theatre presents the beloved classic James and the Giant Peach in Toronto

In children’s literature, there are few tropes more beloved than the good-hearted child who defies a horrible guardian to reach for her or his dream. James and the Giant Peach, one of my favorite examples of this theme, is currently showing in one of its modern, musical incarnations at Young People’s Theatre. Showing again, actually, after a successful run in 2014, with a new set, new costumes, and a truly excellent new cast.

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Review: Kim’s Convenience (Soulpepper)

Performers in "Kim's Convenience"Kim’s Convenience is at times funny, emotional, and heartfelt, on stage in Toronto

Kim’s Convenience returns to the stage in Soulpepper‘s funny, heartfelt, and timely production. The members of the Kim family rise to meet their challenges — whether in the form of interpersonal tension or the gentrification of their neighbourhood — with an admirable combination of humour and heart. It’s surely impossible not to laugh all the way through, and perhaps shed a tear at the end.

Kim’s Convenience was extremely funny; in particular, Appa (the delightful Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) displayed a winning zest for life that was the source of many comedic moments. At the same time, much of the humour stemmed from serious social issues: Appa’s Korean accent, the racial profiling of thieves, and relationships between people of colour and the police. It is a true testament to the quality of this play that it made me laugh, feel, and think at the same time.

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