The first thing I need to tell you about the Studio 180/Buddies in Bad Times co-production of The Normal Heart is that you must go and see it. Must. Utterly non-optional for anyone who ever likes theatre a little bit, which I presume you must since you are reading a theatre blog. Go ahead and click over to get your tickets, I’ll wait.
James Gangl, bless him, is perfectly honest: he wants to find a girlfriend. He’s aware that he is not, in the classic sense, A Catch, and so – like many of us with more charm than grace and more brains than looks – he has decided to work what he’s got. In Gangl’s case, aided by director Chris Gibbs and a few dark weeks on the Theatre Passe Muraille schedule, what he has is a really, really good story.
I confess: when the opportunity arose to review a burlesque show called Babes In Space II: The Wrath of Thong, I squeaked happily and jumped on it. I am a longtime fan of the burlesque arts, and have had the great fortune to be warmly acquainted with a number of first-class practitioners of the craft. Because of this, admittedly, my standards of burlesque performance are pretty high. Even still, the revue cast of Wrath of Thong left me cheering and shouting for more.
Morning Glory is a show written out of the truth. It documents, dramatizes, and details the experiences of Karin Bolette Sonne, in prison and in a center for women with what are referred to in the program as “mental health issues.” It feels facile and unfair to try to review a show that’s so obviously not meant to be entertaining in the typical sense. Morning Glory is much closer to an Augusto Boal-style, Theatre of the Oppressed series of performances, created to bring hidden injustice to light through the art form of theatre. It utterly succeeds.
A safeword, a concept popular among people who enjoy erotic roleplay or dominance and submission games, is a word that – when uttered – stops all the action immediately so everyone can regroup. Conversely, it frees the participants to use words like “no” and “stop”, in their roles, without fear that their partners will actually stop.
THE SAFE WORD, the SummerWorks play presented by The Forthcoming Collective, touches briefly on this concept but honestly, there were several times during the play I would have used a safeword if I thought it would make the production stop and regroup. The play wasn’t awful – in fact, it had some transcendent moments – but it seemed at intervals to have forgotten itself, or simply lost its way.
We’ve certainly all heard things about the G20. If you’re a bit of a news junkie like me, you’ve read numerous accounts of the weekend. But I can pretty well guarantee you’ve never heard it as well told as Tommy Taylor’s You Should Have Stayed Home, which has more than lived up to its pre-SummerWorks hype.
One of the reasons I have always loved SummerWorks is for its willingness to schedule work that breaks boundaries, mixes forms, or ignores certain conventions in favour of possibility. Brothers, a melded dance and theatre piece with a side-order of cooking show, is precisely this kind of work. After leaving Factory Theatre, I remarked that it had been 40 utterly gorgeous minutes of dance and movement. Fortunately or unfortunately, however, Brothers is a 75-minute theatre piece.
In fact, I saw Boyfriends on Wednesday evening, midway though its successful run at the Fringe. It appears that the ghosts in the machine stole my review, and I’m now rewriting it on Monday, with the show having mellowed a few days in my head. As with scotch and men, I think time has improved my enjoyment of Boyfriends as well.
As a theatre-loving parent of a toddler, I am so pleased – just on principle – with the existence of FringeKIDS. Even though children’s theatre can be hit-or-miss, just the experience of going has a lot to offer children. The Adventures of Mazel and Schlimazel, though, provided a good deal more.
Perched on a barstool in the last row of The Central, sweating freely with the other 60-odd souls packed into the small space, I remember thinking to myself “Man, I really hope this production of La Duchesse de Langeais is worth it.” And oh, it was.