All posts by Lauren Stein

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Shakespeare BASH’d) 2015 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Lynne Griffin & Sean Sullivan by Madison Golshani & Daniel Pascale from the Toronto Fringe Festival

Shakespeare BASH’d returns to the Toronto Fringe Festival with their latest salute to the Bard, The Merry Wives of Windsor, playing in the upper decks of the Victory Cafe. Complete with secret identities, misdirection, a randy rotund knight, trickster wives, young love, fake fairies and, of course, a wedding, this spirited rendition of one of Shakespeare’s comedies deserved its sold out audience for the first evening’s performance.

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Review: Hooked (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Nicky Guadagni in HOOKED. HOOKED written by Carolyn Smart, adapted by and starring Nicky Guadagni, directed by Layne Coleman. A Theatre Passe Muraille Production. In the TPM backspace April 16 - May 10.

Nicky Guadagni plays seven different women in this one woman show in Toronto

The full house of Theatre Passe Muraille’s Backspace was in great company Tuesday night for the premiere of Hooked. Based on poems by Carolyn Smart, Hooked delves into the lives of seven powerful women, including Myra Hindley, Unity Mitford, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dora Carrington, Elizabeth Smart, Carson McCullers and Jane Bowles, telling their stories from glorious, glamorous beginning to (often enough) unfortunate disappointing demise. These seven women, each carrying their own historical heft, were all gallantly played by one: Nicky Guadagni.

It’s a big burden for one actor to carry, but Guadagni does so with gumption and a mesmerizing stage presence that drew me in as soon as she stepped into the spotlight. Between the awed silence and bursts of laughter, it was obvious that I wasn’t the only one thoroughly enjoying getting well-acquainted with the production’s characters.

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Review: The Art of Building a Bunker (Factory Theatre/Quiptake)

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The Art of Building a Bunker is a hilarious one-man show on social awkwardness on stage at Toronto’s Factory Theatre

In The Art of Building a Bunker, Adam Lazarus and Guillermo Verdecchia explore questions of sensitivity, political correctness and the socially acceptable through the scope of one man’s experience at workplace sensitivity training. This one-man show was previously introduced to the Toronto theatre scene in 2013 at the Summerworks Festival, now bringing a wry, poignant and frequently absurd sense of humour to Factory Theatre’s 45th season.

Lazarus is the “one-man” in question, embodying the tale of Elvis, a guy who has to suffer through the touchy-feely self-reflection of sensitivity training. Elvis can’t stand being there and makes this pretty obvious throughout the whole show through bursts of hilarious improprieties. Aside from Elvis, Lazarus channels the rest of the sensitivity training course participants including the leader, bringing to life a cast of fully realized kooky characters with only the nod of his head or the flick of his wrist.

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Review: Circle Mirror Transformation (Play Practice Collective)

circlemirrortransformation

Play Practice’s Circle Mirror Transformation is Mind-Opening and Entertaining

Circle Mirror Transformation, a play performed by the Play Practice Collective in the cozy Bloor Street space of the Storefront Theatre, explores the intersecting lives of five individuals who enroll in a creative drama class for adults. Written by American playwright Annie Baker, the show peers behind the awkward curtain of first encounters, and touches upon the way the people we meet, even for a short time, can have a big effect on our lives.

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Preview: TUDS – Toronto Urban Dance Culture Festival (Gadfly)

Toronto Urban Dance Culture Festival

TUDS – The Toronto Urban Dance Culture Festival celebrates the street dance scene in Toronto

It’s hard to find sometimes if you don’t know where to look for it, but Toronto’s street dance scene is as lively as it’s ever been. Popping into its fifth year, TUDS is Toronto’s own celebration of all things urban dance running from September 24-28. A festival with a full lineup of street and urban dance culture elements, TUDS has expanded to five days of impressive productions, intense battles, heart-pumping workshops and engaging open discussions.

Created and produced by GadflyTUDS has become an annual gathering of some of Canada’s forefront dance artists specializing in every variety of street dance you could want. The festival kicks off with Gadfly’s anniversary and a debate about urban dance and concludes with the Gadfly Awards, honouring Canada’s breakout urban dance artists, productions and industry trailblazers.

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Sean & Steven Run for Mayor (Spare Drawer Productions) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

seanandstevenIn case you haven’t had enough of the mayoral race, the Toronto Fringe Festival keeps the political humour going with Spare Drawer Productions’s Sean & Steven Run for Mayor. The show focuses on two bright young men, seeking to win the vote as co-mayors in order to make Toronto a better place. In the process they learn some valuable things about themselves and overthrow the top candidate: an evil, extremely capitalist and militaristic woman seeking to raze the city and exploit its resources.

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Toronto, I Love You (Bad Dog Repertory Players) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

torontoiloveyou

You can’t have a proper Fringe Festival without some improv comedy. And you can’t have an improv comedy show at the Toronto Fringe Festival without the Bad Dog Theatre crew. Toronto, I Love You, their current Fringe offering, is an unexpected and guffaw-worthy ode to the city we all adore in varying degrees.

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