All posts by Chris Klippenstein

Review: Bad Jews (Koffler Centre of the Arts)

Photo from the Koffler production of "Bad Jews"Bad Jews, presented by the Koffler Centre in Toronto, is a “terrific night at the theatre”

Despite the promise of its name, Bad Jews is a great play — a darkly compelling family drama presented by the Koffler Centre of the Arts. Throughout the evening, I was captivated by the play’s unflinching exploration of the intersections of family, identity, and the Jewish faith.

Bad Jews takes place as Jonah (Dan Krantz), Daphna (Rebecca Applebaum), Liam (Kristopher Turner), and Melody (Julia Vally) gather after the passing of a family patriarch. Although the plot centers on the possession of a crucial heirloom, it also reaches deep into the personal and cultural histories of the characters. I found Bad Jews to be compelling, terribly truthful, often very funny, and unafraid to ask the big questions about identity and inheritance.

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Review: Meeting (AntonyHamiltonProjects & Canadian Stage) & Endings (Insite Arts)

Canadian Stage presents a “hypnotic” dance double bill at the Berkeley Toronto

As part of Spotlight Australia, Canadian Stage presents a hypnotic double bill: Meeting, a joint production by AntonyHamiltonProjects and Canadian Stage, and Endings, an Insite Arts production presented by Canadian Stage. Both shows use unusual musical and performance styles to push the boundaries of stagecraft and ask questions about what it means to be human.

Unconventional performance was the order of the evening. Dance piece Meeting used a series of custom mechanical percussion instruments as its soundtrack, while theatre/performance piece Endings used old-fashioned audio technology — tapes and record players — to explore themes of death and dying. Meeting, in particular, was simply amazing; I have never seen anything like it.

Continue reading Review: Meeting (AntonyHamiltonProjects & Canadian Stage) & Endings (Insite Arts)

Sound of the Beast (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Picture of performer Donna-Michelle St. BernardSound of the Beast is a challenging, powerful work now on stage in Toronto

Theatre Passe Muraille‘s mixed-media production Sound of the Beast takes us on an intense, challenging journey that moves from Tunisia to Toronto and back. Solo performer Donna-Michelle St. Bernard uses a well-crafted mixture of rap, song, spoken word, and story to share her experiences at the intersection of race and institutional power.

This unusual show isn’t for the politically faint of heart; St. Bernard is forceful and direct in her condemnation of racist cops, racist power structures, and our racist society. But her message is so strong, and the issues she discusses are so important, that I found the show to be very rewarding.

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Review: Trigonometry (timeshare productions)

Rose Napoli and Daniel Ellis in "Trigonometry"Rob Kempson’s new play explores human relationships on Toronto stages

Trigonometry, a new play by Rob Kempson, takes to the stage at Factory Studio Theatre with an intriguing drama about relationships and power. Set in a high school and lightly associated with the mathematics from which the play takes its name, this was a well-acted and largely enjoyable exploration of human relationships.

I enjoyed revisiting the familiar domain of high school, centered in a visually interesting set filled with mathematical symbols and equations. The play benefitted from exploring the power difference between student Jackson (Daniel Ellis) and teachers Susan (Alison Deon) and Gabriella (Rose Napoli), though I wish the power dynamic had been pushed even further.

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Review: Blood Weddings (Modern Times Stage Company and Aluna Theatre)

Photo of the cast of Blood WeddingsFantastical drama, Blood Weddings, plays on the Toronto stage

Blood Weddings, a joint production from Modern Times Stage Company and Aluna Theatre, now onstage at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, traces the bloody family history of several Spanish families involved in a love triangle. With the help of solid acting and an evocative set, this poetic play eventually won me over. Continue reading Review: Blood Weddings (Modern Times Stage Company and Aluna Theatre)