All posts by Catherine Jan

A former freelance translator in Paris, Catherine Jan now enjoys writing in Toronto and about Toronto. Especially about Toronto theatre. She also blogs about translation, copywriting, editing and other word-related past-times at Catherine Translates. Are you on Twitter? Join @translatetrad‘s 2,000 followers who keep up with her workin’ girl tweets.

Review: The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine (Coffeehouse Theatre/Off the Grid)

Kasey Dunn Andrew Gaboury

A story of domestic discontent took the stage at Toronto’s Sidemart Theatrical Grocery

Take your lover to see The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine at Toronto’s Sidemart Theatrical Grocery and use the given scenes as a means to talk about your post-honeymoon disappointment, built-up resentment and your annoyance with your better half’s morning routine. Domestic bliss becomes a hilarious domestic nightmare in this wonderfully staged play by Leah Cherniak, Robert Morgan and Martha Ross. Continue reading Review: The Anger in Ernest & Ernestine (Coffeehouse Theatre/Off the Grid)

Review: Needles and Opium (Canadian Stage/Ex Machina)

Needles and Opium Marc Labrèche

Canadian Stage brings theatre wizard Robert Lepage’s play Needles and Opium back to Toronto

Written and directed by Robert Lepage, Needles and Opium will startle your senses at Toronto’s Bluma Appel Theatre. Jazz, light and movement make the stories of heartbreak, addiction and cultural discovery come to life.

I’ve never seen such a set. The action takes place not on the stage, but in the air. A three-sided cube turns intermittently. This mobile stage, through light, projected images and changing props, becomes a recording studio, hotel room, pawn shop and other settings. Ground-breaking. Continue reading Review: Needles and Opium (Canadian Stage/Ex Machina)

Review: Tom at the Farm (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre)


Jeff Lillico Jeff Irving

“Intense” violence and grief takes centre stage at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto

Playing at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times TheatreTom at the Farm is the most stressful play I’ve seen in the past year. This troubling thriller about grief, deception, desire and homophobia was written by Michel Marc Bouchard and was poetically translated by renowned literary translator Linda Gaboriau. Continue reading Review: Tom at the Farm (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre)

Review: Bull (Coal Mine Theatre)

Bull Coal Mine Theatre Damon Runyan

Coal Mine Theatre’s Bull is Chilling — You’ll Need a Drink

The gloves come off as three employees battle for two jobs at Toronto’s Coal Mine Theatre on the Danforth. This corporate horror called Bull will send shivers down your back: you’ll witness how the upcoming downsizing brings out the worst in two workplace bullies.

As we walk into this basement theatre (which is downstairs from The Magic Oven), we already know there won’t be much niceness to be observed: the angry music got me into fight-or-flight mode before the performance even started. To make the setting even darker, the arena-like theatre had us sitting in a U-shape around the stage, and with the mesh walls around it, the stage was like a ring. Perfect for bloody office combat. (While I didn’t mind the mesh, my guest found it a bit cumbersome to see through and questioned its necessity.)

Continue reading Review: Bull (Coal Mine Theatre)

Review (Kid +1): Snow Angel (Quest Theatre)

Snow Angel

Snow Angel, playing at Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre, is a whimsical production of mime for the whole family

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow at Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre, as snowflakes propel the heartwarming story of Snow Angel. Created by Nikki Loach, Snow Angel is a sweet tale about being kind and making peace.

The theatrical experience started off as soon as we were directed to our seats. The staff handed us sheets of paper, “Hold on to this until we tell you what you’re going to do with it.” My guest loved what happened next: we literally set the stage by crumpling up our papers and throwing these paper snowballs towards the front of the theatre. Hats off to the creative team for this fantastic crowd-pleaser. Continue reading Review (Kid +1): Snow Angel (Quest Theatre)

Review: A Steady Rain (Paper Moon Productions)

A Steady Rain Anthony Parise John Palmieri

A Steady Rain is Evocative and Colourful

Playing at Leslieville’s The Grocery, A Steady Rain by Keith Huff is a riveting tale of two troubled cops. You’ll be hanging on to their every word. They face the horrors of Chicago criminal life as well as their own chronic, personal battles. Despite their best intentions, everything at home and on the beat goes wrong, and things progressively get worse. Continue reading Review: A Steady Rain (Paper Moon Productions)

Review (Kid +1): Alex in Wonderland (Solar Stage Children’s Theatre)

Shadow puppets help bring Alex in Wonderland to life at the Solar Stage Children’s Theatre in Toronto

Alex in Wonderland

Alex in Wonderland at Toronto’s Solar Stage Children’s Theatre is full of colourful characters that are sure to please the kindergarten set. Its adaptation by Derek Genova includes a good dose of audience participation, too.

The play begins with Alex’s long fall into the rabbit hole, vividly evoked using shadow puppets. It was a captivating downward journey that made the young audience go quiet as we listened to Alex’s narration and slightly scary sound effects. I think the kids thought the puppets were just plain cool, as we saw Alex drop down and meet objects and other characters along the way. Continue reading Review (Kid +1): Alex in Wonderland (Solar Stage Children’s Theatre)

Review (Kid +1): The Conjuror (Magicana / Soulpepper)

The Conjuror David Ben

David Ben brings The Conjuror‘s magic back to the Toronto Stage

The Conjuror David Ben showed off some family-friendly hocus pocus at Toronto’s Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Watching The Conjuror in action was a enchanting way to welcome the new year for me and my little companion.

Set in 1909 at London’s St. George’s Hall, the show was a mesmerizing series of magic feats typical of the Golden Age of Magic: we saw a person being sawed in half (ouch!), a handkerchief playing hide and seek, and an egg being thrown around without breaking. Continue reading Review (Kid +1): The Conjuror (Magicana / Soulpepper)

Review (Kid +1): Le Chat botté (Théatre Advienne que pourra)

le chat botte

This en français version of Puss in Boots is a delight for young audiences at the Théâtre français de Toronto

Hello kitty! Theatre company Advienne que pourra put on a fantastic play Le Chat botté/Puss in Boots at the Théâtre français de Toronto. This run was made up of only two performances on December 6. Too bad they didn’t have more showtimes; both shows were packed with pint-sized spectators hungry for entertaining French-language storytelling. Continue reading Review (Kid +1): Le Chat botté (Théatre Advienne que pourra)

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

James and the Giant Peach

Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre brings Roald Dahl’s classic to life

A memorable Christmas present for your little one would be tickets to the musical production of Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. On stage at Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre, this all-ages pleaser is a must-see.

Orphaned English boy James (Alessandro Costantini) is sent to live with his aunts, two money-hungry meanies sporting wild hairdos (Nicole Robert and Karen Wood). Fortunately, a magical giant peach begins growing in their backyard, becoming his getaway vehicle. More importantly, the fruit becomes home to him and his new family. Continue reading Review (Kid +1): James and the Giant Peach (Young People’s Theatre)