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.

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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Arthur J. Peabody (Amanda Dempsey-Laughlin) 2021 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Desmond Baxter in Arthur J Peabody by Kelly McDowell

Talking, sentient birds are a staple of children’s entertainment, from Big Bird to Foghorn Leghorn to Aladdin’s Iago. Because we can teach some birds to speak, there’s always that added sense of wonderment: what if they had more to say? In Arthur J. Peabody, a new comedy from Amanda Dempsey-Laughlin now playing at the Virtual 2021 Toronto Fringe Festival, the titular talking bird (Desmond Baxter) tells his story of imprisonment and escape to a wide-eyed child.

The show is earnest and sweet, but the content is pitched to a younger audience, and the script could use some plucking.

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Review: Bake Your Heart Out (Next Stage Community Booster 2021)

Photo of Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee in Bake Your Heart Out

In Morro and Jasp’s new offering, a one-night fundraiser for the virtual 2021 Next Stage Community Booster called Bake Your Heart Out, the two clown sisters are up to their old tricks. The inseparable duo has finally come up against a directive to be separate, and a baby on the way makes their divide even more palpable. However, that’s not going to keep them from sharing their screens – and hearts.

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Review: Fish Water (Next Stage Community Booster 2021)

Photo of Mara Da Costa Reis in Fish Water at the Next Stage Community Booster 2021

We all consume things we know that are bad for us, in order to escape, to connect, to feel. That’s one of the messages of Mara Da Costa Reis’s Fish Water, now playing in the Next Stage‘s 2021 virtual festival Community Booster as part of the Storytelling series.

Reis’ story, which begins as an innocuous flirtation between a young woman and her Thai food delivery girl, contains an unexpected gut punch.

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Review: Lacuna (Next Stage Community Booster 2021)

Photo of Juliet Jones-Rodney, Chantal Forde, and Trina Moyan in Lacuna

Lacuna, now playing as part of the virtual 2021 Next Stage Community Booster, asks us, “Is theatre even theatre without the exchange of energy?”

Writer Chantal Forde is joined by Mandy Roveda, Juliet Jones-Rodney, and Trina Moyan, in an on-stage representation of a Zoom call, each actress holding a frame around her face as they try to create together.

This attempt at creation is halted by general pandemic malaise and technical difficulties, and their private anxieties. These include the desire for connection vs. the reality of latency, the wearying need to constantly combat white supremacy, the challenge of finding individuality rather than representing a larger community, and the frustrating lack of space for women’s bodies.

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