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.

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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Space Girl (Hyperloop Theatre) 2021 Toronto Fringe Review

Poster for Space Girl provided by the company

Space Girl, a play presented by Hyperloop Theatre at the 2021 Virtual Toronto Fringe Festival, is a show about decision and compassion fatigue. It’s about things that overwhelm us — a sense of our own smallness, a world on fire, an expanding multiplicity of choice in the search for a perfect solution. What if we could simply leave a daunting and damaged planet, instead of having to put the pieces back together? This is a melancholy, oddly beautiful work, with a participatory twist to keep audiences engaged in its philosophy.

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Honeymoon: Played Out (Ok, theatre) 2021 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Lillian Rose-Millard in Honeymoon: Played Out provided by the artist

Honeymoon: Played Out, produced by Ok, theatre and now playing in the 2021 Virtual Toronto Fringe Festival, bills itself as a “curated arts spree featuring over a dozen new and exciting young artists.” This is its second installment, the first being a live event in 2019 before the world shut down.

As the company title’s sly reference to the “Ok, boomer” meme suggests, this is a show filled with young talents hoping to blast their way past the establishment into recognition. As its previous live incarnation suggests, it closely resembles a chill night at a trendy, grooving open mic in a downtown warehouse, but with better transitions. While it loses some of its vibe in the digital translation, it’s funky fresh enough.

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Broken Hearted Girl (She’s So Vyle) 2021 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Selena Vyle in Broken Hearted Girl by Spencer Wilson. Image is a parody of Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill album cover.

“No-one gets to see the real me until I remember breathing,” says drag queen Selena Vyle (She’s So Vyle) in a raw line from her song cycle Broken Hearted Girl, now playing at the Virtual 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival. A series of connected songs about three romantic relationships over the past decade that shaped and changed Vyle via their painful endings, Broken Hearted Girl embraces the digital medium with a beautifully-shot tour through Toronto. At its centre is Vyle, who shines brightly in her outfits and awesome coifs, sharing entertaining and sometimes moving lyrical observations about the ones who got away.

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