The Best Brothers, playing at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, is a well staged and performed dark comedy about family ties and bonds in the wake of a mother’s funeral
In Tarragon’s production of Daniel MacIvor’s new play, The Best Brothers, Hamilton (played by MacIvor) and Kyle (John Beale) are dealing with the sudden death of their mother, Bunny, and all the attendant concerns, like coordinating the visitation, answering condolence cards and caring for her dog. These activities are complicated by tension between the two, based primarily on Hamilton’s jealousy of the relationship Kyle had with their mother.
This may not sound like a setup for a comedy, but it is. The repartee is familiarly sibling-like, but graced with MacIvor’s sharp wit. The brothers deliver retorts the rest of us can only dream of thinking up on the spot when fighting with a family member. Continue reading The Best Brothers (Tarragon Theatre)
Shakespeare in the Ruff presents the Bard’s classic play Richard the III outdoors in Toronto’s Winthrow Park
Shakespeare in the Ruff is a great venue to bring your picnic blanket, your discreet drinks, maybe your kids, and enjoy a polished and vibrant interpretation of one of Shakespeare’s classics. This year the offering is Richard the III, one of the earliest instances of a villain protagonist.
I arrived at the show in a fairly foul mood and, because of some of the circumstances of my rough day, had no companion and no blanket or camp chair to sit on. I was not looking forward to having to be there. But once the show started I was quickly distracted from my personal worries. Continue reading Review: Richard the III (Shakespeare in the Ruff)
“Devious and Frightening and Sexy”: Soulpepper’s Sloane Delivers
Entertaining Mr. Sloane, as directed by Brendan Healy for Soulpepper, is a wicked romp through violence, desperation and sexual exploitation. The characters approach each other with ulterior motives, each armed with their respective wiles and a marked lack of anything approaching ethics. Joe Orton’s controversial play from 1964 still seems relevant today, as it isn’t based so much on the mores of the time as on the malevolent and self-serving aspects of human nature.
I was surprised when I walked in and saw that it was set in the round. I’m familiar with the script and it was definitely written for a proscenium, with some business dependent on that staging. As we discovered at the talk back session (which Soulpepper always offers after their Tuesday night performances) the round was a concession to a different production playing in the same theatre. Continue reading Review: Entertaining Mr. Sloane (Soulpepper)
Or Be Eaten by Silent Protagonist is an “urban fairy tale” in the Fringe Festival that uses mask, puppetry and clown. It tells the story of Ash, a homeless man who journeys under the city through abandoned subway tunnels trying to find a utopian Toronto neighbourhood where no one ever goes hungry.
Scott Garland, Amy Marie Wallace and Graeme Black Robinson take on the variety of theatre forms with gusto and it all melded together charmingly. A curtained rack is the main set piece and serves many purposes.
When Ash encounters goblins who plan to eat him for dinner, the rack hides the performer’s bodies as they manipulate the goblin puppets above. Later it becomes a weapon that Ash uses against the crow Cordivia, who also intends to eat him. Even later the curtain itself becomes a rock-and-concrete monster who is trying –you guessed it! – to eat Ash. Continue reading Or Be Eaten (Silent Protagonist) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review
The Adversary, written and performed by Andrew Bailey as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival, is an autobiographical one-man show about Bailey’s experiences as a church caretaker in Vancouver’s notorious lower east side. A part of his job is to deal with the local street addicts, a task he takes on with compassion but which also requires some self-preservation, and this is the context where he wrestles with his faith and his relationship with God.
This sounds like a show that could be horrible, but it’s really not. It’s quite good and it made me feel an immense respect for Bailey. It also helped me feel some appreciation for people like the church’s tattooed priest, Max. I don’t always have a very positive view of religion and anything associated with it, so this was very good for me. Continue reading The Adversary (Andrew Bailey) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review