All posts by Emma Letki

Review: Monday Nights (6th Man Collective)


Interactive theatre blends with a pick up game of basketball in Monday Nights at Toronto’s Theatre Centre

I unabashedly love immersive interactive theatre performance works. I am entirely biased — they just make me happy. Playing at the Theatre Centre, Monday Nights fits beautifully into this category. It is a fun piece about basketball. Super simple, but thoroughly charming.

This work started in 2008 as a group of friends meeting on Monday Nights to play ball and relieve a bit of stress at the same time. Over the past six years it has gone through a number of stages until it reached the Theatre Centre. 6th Man Collective have been in residency at the Theatre Centre since 2012 developing the work that they are now sharing. Continue reading Review: Monday Nights (6th Man Collective)

Review: High Life (Beyond The Round Productions)

High Life is dark comedy about a heist gone awry on stage at Toronto’s Scotiabank Studio Theatre

A few nights ago I found my self in Parkdale, in a little hub of theatre in the city. I rushed into Pia Bouman’s Scotiabank Studio Theatre to see Beyond the Round Production’s High Life. Sold as a dark comedy with repulsive cons and an attractive heist, I was intrigued to see the show, ‘cause boy do I love a good heist story.

High Life is by Lee MacDougall and was originally a screenplay which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2009. High Life follows an ex-con, Dick, as he puts together a team of junkies to rob a bank. Being junkies, the heist does not go quite as planned. Before the lights dimmed, my show buddy, being a huge fan of dark comedy told me how similar High Life was to Reservoir Dogs, a ’92 dark comedy. Continue reading Review: High Life (Beyond The Round Productions)

True (Criminal Theatre in association with Aluna Theatre) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of True cast: Ingrid Rae Doucet, Shannon Taylor, Layne Coleman, Sabrina Grdevich, Scott McCord. Photo by Aleyah Solomon

As I walked into Citizenry, a boutique on Queen West where Criminal Theatre is presenting their site-specific show True, there was an actor playing the piano built into the bar. His playing continued until the reveal of the first sister of a trio and the introduction of the main question in the play. Can you change your memories to change the result; the past’s future. Every year there’s a handful of good dramas presented at the Toronto Fringe Festival. This is one of them. Continue reading True (Criminal Theatre in association with Aluna Theatre) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare BASH’d) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Hallie Seline	photograph	by	Jesse	Griffiths	and	Kyle	Purcell

 Shakespeare BASH’d is once again inhabiting the upstairs room of the Victory café for this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. Even though Shakespeare BASH’d has been performing at the Toronto Fringe Festival for 3 years, this is the first year I have managed to fit it into my schedule or to get a ticket. And I was certainly glad I got to see their rendition of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

As I climbed up the stairs of the Victory, I could hear cheering and general camaraderie. As it turns out I walked into a Shakespearian game of Ye Olde Beer Pong, in keeping with the casual vibe at this local annex pub. This casual setting fitted perfectly with Shakespeare BASH’d’s interpretation of Love’s Labour’s Lost. Continue reading Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare BASH’d) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Commencement: a Work of Fiction and Musical of Sorts (Rainy Day Theatre Company) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Set in the University of Toronto’s University College Junior Common Room, Commencement: a Work of Fiction and Musical of Sorts is a bring- your-own-venue show at the Toronto Fringe Festival.

Maybe I am too bitter, too cynical, and way too close to the subject matter, but Rainy Day Theare’s production didn’t quite feel like it met the Honours-level that lead character Kate was bragging about graduating with.

The title of Commencement: a Work of Fiction and Musical of Sorts is a bit deceiving: it is not a “Musical of Sorts” but rather a completely traditionally musical. It even came complete with a classic musical-style magic love plot. The piece follows Kate, a recent grad who moves out of school and into the work force, where she finds love and sexism.

Continue reading Commencement: a Work of Fiction and Musical of Sorts (Rainy Day Theatre Company) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Amusement (Nobody’s Business Theatre) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

cast of Amusement

Heading to Nobody’s Business‘s Amusement at the Helen Phelan Gardiner Playhouse I was super excited to be seeing my first Toronto Fringe Festival show of the year. It was an adorable way to start.

Amusement is a classic musical comedy that you so often find at Fringe. The perfect mix of modern reality, humour, fairy tale drive, and a splash of mouse ear references. 

We are introduced to the Disney theme when Sebastian, one of the heroes, of the story wakes up with animated chirping birds offering him tea. And we get the urban equivalent when Rose the other character gets woken up by a raccoon offering her a beer after a one night stand. I enjoyed these two slightly off-kilter characters.

Continue reading Amusement (Nobody’s Business Theatre) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Review: Elvis and the Man in Black (Coleman Lemieux and Compagnie)

Looking for Elvis full cast

The tunes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash are brought to life in dance in Elvis and the Man in Black at Toronto’s Citadel

The Citadel was packed tight on the opening night of Coleman and Lemieux’s Elvis and the Man in Black. There was even a waitlist to see this dance show about two great musicians. The space was certainly lively, with everyone chatting up a storm before the show started. My neighbour, whom I met as I sat down, was eager to chat with me about the show we were about to see.

As the name indicates, Elvis and the Man in Black, was about none other than Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Two of my favourite musicians. The Man in Black, choreographed by James Kudelka, opened the show. Square dances, country dances, and good ol’ country grit were definitely inspirations for this work. Continue reading Review: Elvis and the Man in Black (Coleman Lemieux and Compagnie)

Review: NeoIndigenA – Mixed Works (Kaha:wi Dance Theatre / Harbourfront Centre NextSteps)

NextSteps presents Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s NeoIndigenA Santee Smith’s personal story in dance

NeoIndigenA is performer and choreographer Santee Smith’s first full length solo dance show presented at the Enwave theatre with Smith’s company Kaha:wi Dance Theatre. A live musical performance kicked off the show on opening night creating a lively atmosphere.

NeoIndigenA is Smith’s personal journey to find humanity, ancient ways of knowing, and spiritual evolution. She explores these concepts through their relation to the sacred portals between Skyworld, Earthworld, and Underworld. The three worlds are represented visually in distinct areas on the stage. Skyworld is illustrated partially through the lighting design; Earthworld is represented with bones across the stage; and Underworld is shown using a beautiful arch way in one corner of the stage.

Continue reading Review: NeoIndigenA – Mixed Works (Kaha:wi Dance Theatre / Harbourfront Centre NextSteps)

Review: Abigail’s Party (Precisely Peter Productions)

Abigail’s Party provides a time capsule view into the excesses of the 70’s, playing at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille

Abigail’s Party was Director John Shooter’s first production in Canada. Both Shooter and the play he chose to direct hail from the rolling hills of England. The intimate Backspace at Theatre Passe Muraille was home to Precisely Peter Productions‘ Canadian debut.

Abigail’s Party depicts a small get together of suburban neighbours. It opens with Beverly sitting in her living room waiting on her husband to arrive home from work. Soon after Lawrence gets home, Beverly’s guests arrive and her party gets underway. This sitcom, written by British playwright Mike Leigh, looks at the collapse of two marriages and the stresses of being a single mother.

Continue reading Review: Abigail’s Party (Precisely Peter Productions)

Review: Frozen (En(Live)n Productions)

Three people’s lives intertwine in the face of a horrific crime in Frozen on stage at the Box Theatre in Toronto

En(Live)n Production's FrozenStanding in the lobby of the Box Theatre (which was essentially on the street) I was trying really hard not to reel off bad puns about being cold and waiting to see En(live)n’s production of Frozen. Needless to say I was relieved that the small theatre space was not cheap with their heating.

Frozen looks at three people’s experiences with forgiveness, remorse, and their ability to change. The characters’ lives begin to intersect when Nancy’s 10-year-old daughter disappears on her way to her grandmother’s house. Some 10 to 20 years later, we hear the story of how these characters’ lives touch. Ralph is convicted of abducting and murdering an unspecified number of children – Nancy’s daughter is one of them. Agnetha is studying serial killers. Continue reading Review: Frozen (En(Live)n Productions)