Once again this year the SummerWorks Performance Festival features a mix of daring, provocative, challenging, thought-provoking and controversial theatre and once again the Mooney on Theatre team has reviewed the 45 theatre shows* in the festival.
If you’re looking for a place to start, see the following list of recommendations for the shows that our staff think you should see at this year’s SummerWorks Festival.
Mooney on Theatre Staff Picks – 2013 SummerWorks Performance Festival
Mike Anderson still hasn’t quite gotten over Show and Tell Alexander Bell. Thoughtful, playful, joyful, beautiful, and a cast who openly invites the audience to defy them. What’s not to love? It’s also a show which cries out for post-show discussion: bring a date, bring a friend, bring your mother, bring whoever but go. Go see this show.
Wayne Leung recommends Murderers Confess at Christmastime, especially to fans of black humour. The show darts between three separate plot lines exploring the theme of power in relationships. It’s laugh-out-loud funny but also dark, twisted and wickedly perverse; at times it practically basks in its perversity. Top notch production, direction and performances make it a show worth seeing.
Bear Bergman puts Late Company in a personal, all-time hall of fame. The story is loosely based on that of Jamie Hubley, the gay 15-year-old son of a Tory politician who killed himself in Ottawa two years ago after being extensively bullied. It’s hard to say enough good things about this production. Jordan Tannahill’s volatile and touching script, combined with an incredibly self-assured direction by Peter Pasyk and performances by an extraordinary cast create moments of truly transcendent theatre. Get tickets soon. And bring a handkerchief.
Istvan Dugalin fell head over heals in love with iShow. He figured it was going to be neat, but was surprised at how fascinating and poignant it turned out to be. It is both a cerebral exploration of social media’s impact on our relationships and a fun and touching shared experience that exists on both an intimate and global scale. It was is one of the most inspiring theatrical experiences he’s ever had.
Sam Mooney loved The Ballad of Weedy Peetstraw and recommends it because everything about it is terrific. The music, the musicians, the singing, the acting, the dancing, the cast, it all worked. It was 90 minutes of fun. Sam left the theatre with a big smile on her face. She bets that you will too.
Ashima Suri recommends Eating Pomegranates Naked, a compelling well-written script written by Andrea Scott. Beginning with a lively dinner party between five friends, the story unravels as each character is revealed and we discover the skeletons in their closest. The play takes us through a journey of understanding relationships, gender identity and fertility.
Samantha Wu found herself shocked, awed, moved, and, well, mostly shocked during The Life of Jude, a biblical musical tragic-comedy about the choices made when following blind faith. She was left in awe from the raw emotion pouring out of Adam Kenneth Wilson as Jude and Pamela Mala Sinha as Teresa. She was moved by the beauty in the original music and songs (though cringed when some were a bit too corny for her tastes). The shock came from the blatant sexuality and even nudity that stood prominently throughout the play though still didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment. A great show for the not overly sensitive.
Christina Kostoff wholeheartedly recommends that you go see Family Story playing at Gallery 1313. It is a wild story told in a ridiculous way and yet it will remain close to your heart and make you think about how you trace your own familial lineage to try and understand your present circumstance. There are puppets, there’s dancing, and there’s art! The entire cast is phenomenal, and the art gallery setting is an inspiring and refreshing way to experience theatre. It’s not to be missed.
Check out our full list of SummerWorks Theatre reviews.
*Mooney on Theatre reviewed every show in the festival’s theatre series (Dance, National, International, Off-site and Musical Works in Concert).
-Photo by Erin Brubacher