All posts by Ilana Lucas

Ilana Lucas has been a big theatre nerd since witnessing a fateful Gilbert and Sullivan production at the age of seven. She has studied theatre for most of her life, holds a BA in English and Theatre from Princeton and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Script Development from Columbia, and is currently a professor of English and Theatre at Centennial College. She believes that theatre has a unique ability to foster connection, empathy and joy, and has a deep love of the playfulness of the written word. Her favourite theatrical experience was the nine-hour, all-day Broadway performance of The Norman Conquests, which made fast friends of an audience of strangers.

Review: Other People (Canadian Stage)

Photo of Daniel Brooks in Other People by Bronwen Sharp

Theatre legend Daniel Brooks — or a hero almost exactly like him, with his name, face, and background — has recently been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He’s quick to assure us it’s not the type one brings upon oneself by smoking, but the prognosis is the same.

Staring death in the face, he decides that to “die well,” he needs to attend a ten-day silent meditation retreat. It will allow him to calm the voices in his head and define what is really important.

Of course, for the neurotic Brooks, it doesn’t turn out to be quite that simple. In Other People, now playing at Canadian Stage‘s Berkeley Street Theatre, he unleashes a 100-minute-long torrent of speech to the audience, detailing just what was in his head during his forced silence.

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Review: Iphigenia and The Furies (on Taurian Land) (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Photo of Virgilia Griffith and Paula-Jean Prudat in Iphigenia and The Furies (on Taurian Land) by Dahlia Katz

Iphigenia and The Furies (on Taurian Land), written by Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho) and presented digitally by Theatre Passe Muraille, Saga Collectif, and Architect Theatre, seeks to teach an ancient Greek myth new tricks in a retelling for a different era.

Originally staged in 2019 by Saga Collectif at Aki Studio, where it won the Toronto Theatre Critics’ Award for Best New Canadian Play, it was supposed to re-open Passe Muraille’s physical doors in a completely new staging by director Jonathan Seinen. While a digital pivot was necessary in uncertain times, the assured production of the play is anything but uncertain.

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Review: A Tonic For Desperate Times (Theatre Gargantua)

Photo of Heather Marie Annis and Michael Gordon Spence in A Tonic For Desperate Times by Michael Cooper

Theatre Gargantua‘s A Tonic for Desperate Times, the company’s return to live theatre at the historic St. Anne’s Parish Hall, is just that: a look at the seemingly insurmountable personal and global stresses in our current world, which offers a degree of optimism and hope with its harsh realities.

A devised work directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas and written by its perfomance ensemble, Heather Marie Annis, Sierra Haynes, Alexandra Lainfiesta, Michael Gordon Spence and Nabil Traboulsi, the show’s intent is to provide catharsis for a burnt-out, weary public. However, its goal isn’t to sugarcoat topics of illness, poverty, violence, and xenophobia; as any good catharsis requires the storm before the calm, the show pushes through the panic before showing us ways of coping.

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Review: Touch (Lighthouse Immersive Artspace)

Photo of Larkin Miller and Natasha Poon Woo in Touch by Dahlia Katz

Touch, conceived by Guillame Ct, is a 45-minute dance show about communication and connection between two people. A partnership between Lighthouse Immersive Artspace and Ct Danse, it shares the space of 1 Yonge St. with the heavily-advertised immersive Van Gogh exhibit known for its room-sized projections. Featuring similarly large-scale projections by Thomas Payette of Mirari Studio, the 360-degree experience packs a lot of sensory input into a short amount of time. It’s playful and fun.

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Review: UnCovered: The Music of Dolly Parton (The Musical Stage Company)

Photo of Kelly Holiff, Jully Black, and Hailey Gillis in UnCovered by Dahlia Katz

In UnCovered: The Music of Dolly Parton, The Musical Stage Company takes on the career of the legendarily flashy country star credited with everything from increasing literacy rates in Tennessee children to funding the development of the Moderna COVID vaccine. The entertainment force of nature is given a rollicking and heartfelt homage here, staged by Fiona Sauder, with rearranged songs strung together around thematically-relevant Parton quips read off postcards.

Ironically, UnCovered is the first show I’ve seen since COVID under the cover of an indoor theatre, the magnificent Koerner Hall. The sheer size of the interior contrasts sharply with the maximum of 175 people in the audience. Luckily, the six-person cast is up to the challenge of filling the space with sound, and the audience is so excited to be there that it loses some of that Toronto reserve and has a small dance party. Though I’m only a casual fan of Ms. Parton, I can say that this did not hinder my enjoyment of the evening.

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