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: 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)

Review: The King and I (Scarborough Music Theatre)

An impressive vocal cast does wonders to Scarborough Music Theatre’s production of The King and I

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I at the Scarborough Village Theatre hits all the right notes. It’s no surprise that this colourful cast, made up of many kids who were dancing past bedtime, received a standing ovation.

In this 1860s story, British schoolteacher Anna (formidable Laurie Hurst) is tasked with educating the many children of the King of Siam (Richard Kwong). Anna and the King never let us down, singing their way through extreme cultural differences and making us laugh along the way. Continue reading Review: The King and I (Scarborough Music Theatre)

Review: Sidekicks & Secret Identities (Monkeyman Productions)

Superhero antics take over the stage at Toronto’s Fraser Studios in Sidekicks & Secret Identities

Sidekicks Secret Identitiess - Sean KaufmannUp, up and away! If you’re into comic book conundrums, venture over to Toronto’s Fraser Studios for Monkeyman Productions‘ Sidekicks & Secret Identities.

Our evening about undercover wonders was made up of three stories: Sidekicks by Manda Whitney and Errol Elumir, and two shorter pieces Fortress of Solitude and Super by D.J. Sylvis.

Continue reading Review: Sidekicks & Secret Identities (Monkeyman Productions)

Review: Le Passé antérieur/Past Perfect (Théâtre français de Toronto)

Past Perfect Albertine Alex

Théâtre français de Toronto presents Michel Tremblay’s play Past Perfect / Le Passé antérieur

All talk, no action — that’s Past Perfect/Le Passé antérieur by Michel Tremblay. Playing at the Théâtre français de Toronto, this French-language story about love lost offers English surtitles on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Geneviève Dufour plays Tremblay’s passionate, broken-hearted star character Albertine. Dumped by Alex, the man she longed to marry, Albertine can’t bear the fact that Alex is courting her younger, mild-mannered sister. Albertine is unhappy, and misery sure loves company. Everyone who crosses paths with Albertine — her mother Victoire, her sister Madeleine, her brother Edouard, her ex-boyfriend Alex — must be made painfully aware of every single tear she has shed. Continue reading Review: Le Passé antérieur/Past Perfect (Théâtre français de Toronto)