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: MOBY: A Whale of a Tale (Pirate Life Theatre)

Photo of Annie Tuma, Jamar Adams-Thompson, and Lena Maripuu in MOBY: A Whale of a Tale by Raiza Dela Peña

MOBY: A Whale of A Tale is a seafaring show that takes audiences to an actual boat docked in the harbour at Queen’s Quay West. Moby-Dick, the famed tale by Herman Melville that has become synonymous with the the concept of doomed, obsessive revenge, gets a new life as a musical written by Gorgon Theatre’s Lena Maripuu and Annie Tuma and presented by Pirate Life Theatre. Let’s just say that you don’t want this site-specific piece to be the one that got away.

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Review: Apocalypse Play (Two Birds Theatre/Common Boots Theatre)

Photo of Kate Lushington and Natasha Greenblatt in an outside setting in a park, holding a clear bag filled with pink balloons between them in Apocalypse Play

It’s a beautiful day for an apocalypse in Hillcrest Park. The sky is blue and children swarm the playground. Meanwhile, feminist theatre-makers and real-life mother-daughter team Kate Lushington and Natasha Greenblatt showcase their new work, Apocalypse Play – presented by Two Birds Theatre Company in association with Common Boots Theatre.

Greenblatt begins by explaining the play’s premise. She tells the audience that her intent was to create a third chapter to two of Lushington’s short satirical works set in the aftermath of a nuclear war.

These best-laid plans quickly go awry, however, as we instead watch a biting commentary on generational differences in arts-based activism and perceived existential threats. More than that, it’s also a story about the uneasy relationship between mother and daughter. and the lines between creation and capitulation, legacy and settling.

It’s messy, funny, thoughtful, and painful; an engrossing way to spend an hour.

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kiskisiwin nimihko (remembering my blood) (Nimihko Productions) 2021 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of PJ Prudat in kiskisiwin nimihko remembering my blood by Chala Hunter

Presented by Nimikho Productions at the 2021 Virtual Toronto Fringe Festival, kiskisiwin nimihko (remembering my blood) chronicles the resilience, pain, and defiant joy of a Métis/Nehiyaw woman and her family in the face of colonialist brutality.

Writer PJ Prudat’s 30-minute monologue is a cry from the heart. It’s family lore and cultural ode, storytelling and memory as rebellion, and, most importantly, a way to “no longer be invisible.” It is relevant, required viewing.

(Content warning: this show, and therefore this review, mentions violence against Indigenous culture and bodies by settlers and colonizers.)

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Orange Chicken (Send Noods Productions) 2021 Toronto Fringe Review

Poster of Orange Chicken cast in cartoon form provided by the company

Orange Chicken, by Send Noods Productions (“a pan-Asian collective of theatre & musical artists who don’t know how to not name a show after food”) is a combination of live-action and animated comedy sketches now playing at the Virtual 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival. Touching on topics from social media to online school to mixed-race angst to Communist propaganda, it’s a very funny 50 minutes that feels like it was made with the new hybrid medium of “digital theatre” firmly in mind.

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Just Pervs (Perverted Assemblages) 2021 Toronto Fringe Review

Poster of Millie Herridge, Cassandra Henry, Jahnelle Jones, and Sanskruti Marathe in Just Pervs created by Anaiah LebretonPerverted Assemblages‘ production of Just Pervs, now playing at the 2021 Virtual Toronto Fringe Festival, is Reid Miller’s adaptation of a short story by Jess Taylor. Anchored by a set of determined performances and creative methods, it’s an exciting show that calls for your attention.

It’s the summer of 2004 and 15-year-old Gia (Sanskruit Marathe) moves from India to Canada, becomes “Jill,” and desperately tries to fit in with queen bee Penny (Jahnelle Jones) and her friends Dani (Millie Herridge) and Jenade (Cassandra Henry), all of whom seem to Jill impossibly worldly and sexually-advanced.

Eager for recognition, and looking to explore her sexuality, Jill writes a “porno play” featuring the foursome, which gets leaked across the school. In the face of sudden male approval and female judgment, Jill and her friends eagerly pick up the dismissive mantle of being “Just Pervs,” reveling in the positives of pervhood: empowerment, honesty and acceptance, and the ability to feel something — anything.

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