Review: redShow / blueShow (InspiraTO)

InspiraTO delivers, both in inspiration and entertainment, on stage in Toronto

From now until June 10, there’s something special going on at the Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley St). It’s the annual InspiraTO short-play festival.  In the runtime of just one hour, you can see 6 original short plays.

InspiraTO chooses its shows from over two-hundred submissions. With this vast selection, it’s unsurprising that the short plays that make it into the festival are quite good. I was generally impressed by what I saw onstage. These plays are short and to the point; some were a bit too on-the-nose for my liking, but the brevity and variety meant that I was never bored. I really recommend checking out this festival.

I saw both the redShow and blueShow on their opening night in the Alumnae theatre’s mainstage space, and while I enjoyed them both, the latter was definitely my favourite of the two. 

Each show is a collection of plays. The overarching theme of the festival is growing up, and each of the shows has its own theme that contributes to this motif. The redShow’s focus was obsession, whereas the blueShow explored the theme of transporting. Of the two shows we saw, my guest and I both preferred the blueShow.

In the blueShow, the stated theme of transporting felt tighter, and across the board we found the quality of the short plays to be excellent. The redShow was bit spottier, with some of the plays lacking subtlety in the way they explored the central themes.

My favourite show of the night was the blueShow’s ‘Transferring Kyle’ by Jonathan Cook. This play managed to be a quintessential dramedy in just ten minutes, with acting that ranged from laugh-out-loud hilarious to deeply poignant, coming from the three very talented performers: Thom Nyhuus, Evan MacKenzie, and Kyrah Harder.

Other plays were standouts as well; my guest particularly loved ‘Immortals’ by Noah Habenstreit and ‘So Lovely Here On Earth’ by Mary Portser. I appreciated them too, and I found the latter to be quite the adorable mini rom-com.

From the redShow, there was still a lot to love. For me the last play, ‘Santa Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ by Garrett Mallory Scott, was hands down my favourite. It had some really funny moments, and hilarious performances from its cast. The play that preceded it, ‘Rachel’ by Rick Allden, had a standout performance from Elizabeth Adams.

It’s great getting to see so many talented actors onstage in just one hour. The format of the show means that everyone gets the opportunity to showcase their best acting chops, and nobody feels unimportant to their respective shows.

On the tech side of things, the lighting was pretty ambitious, with large polygonal white screens made up the back wall and had images projected onto them. On a few occasions these massive projections hit the actors and made it difficult to see, but the effect was quite impressive nonetheless.

Overall, I’m a big fan of what InspiraTO has to offer. This is a great opportunity for creators to showcase new talent and ideas. I highly encourage you to get out to see a few of these shows and be treated to a barrage of ideas, emotions, talent, and imagination.


Photo from Immortals of Bruce Williamson and Armand Antony provided by the company.

4 thoughts on “Review: redShow / blueShow (InspiraTO)”

  1. Please note: ‘So Lovely Here On Earth’ is by Mary Portser. Nastazja Palonka is the director.

  2. Hi Jess; lovely review. Thanks! Ziad was the director of ‘Rachel’. I wrote it. Thanks again!

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