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: Butcher (Why Not Theatre/Butcher’s Block)

Tony Nappo, Andrew Musselman, John Koensgen

Butcher is a “fascinating” dive into unanswerable questions, now on stage in Toronto

Must revenge be a never-ending cycle? Are revenge and justice mutually exclusive, or are they one and the same? What do you do to raise your voice in a world that is bored with suffering? The Theatre Centre, in a co-production with Why Not? Theatre and Butcher’s Block Collective, presents Nicholas Billon’s explosive play Butcher, a thrilling, taut and harrowing 80 minutes of theatre that raises these uneasy, unanswerable questions.

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Review: Baobab (Young People’s Theatre)

Photo of Ralph Prosper, Aboulaye Koné, Mireille Tawfik and Nathalie CoraToronto’s Young People’s Theatre remounts their Dora Award Winning play Baobab

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than sitting back and watching a crowd of kids be enchanted by theatre. Of course, it helps when the show manages to be enchanting to the adults in the audience as well. Baobab, a remount of the Dora Award-winning 2012 production for children 4-8, comes back to the Young People’s Theatre Studio from October 13-23. Watching it, I saw an audience captivated by a combination of skillful puppetry and visuals, lovely harmonies, and a gentle myth.

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Preview: In Search of Cruise Control (James Gangl)

James Gangl in In Search of Cruise ControlCanadian Comedy Award Winner James Gangl brings his hit one-man Edmonton Fringe show, In Search of Cruise Control, to the Second City John Candy Box Stage this weekend. With dramaturgy and direction by Fringe favourite Chris Gibbs, the show is the true story of Gangl’s attempt to give his teenaged nephew the sex talk.

We asked writer and perfomer Gangl a few questions about the upcoming production:
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Review: The Play’s The Thing (Soulpepper)

Photo of C. David Johnson, Greogry Prest and Raquel Duffy

The Play’s The Thing, presented by Soulpepper for the third time in the company’s 17-year lifespan, is a big airy cream-puff of a play; a juicy, over-ripe peach that is nonetheless a treat. Written by Ferenc Molnár (known for Liliom, the basis for the musical Carousel) and adapted in 1926 by P.G. Wodehouse of Jeeves and Wooster fame, it’s not a deep play, but it doesn’t pretend to be. Rather, it’s a play about plays, a delightfully sly send-up of the conventions and form of the well-made play, with a dollop of farce on top. Its references are irreverent, its artifice the most natural thing in the world.

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Review: Holodeck Follies (The Dandies)

Photo of The Dandies company members

Star Trek-inspired improv delivers an “engaging” show for Toronto audiences

Around this time last year, I had never seen a single episode of Star Trek, though as a small child, I’d humoured my friend’s request that I be Dr. Crusher in our playground games. I had no idea what the fuss was about. Now, I’m four episodes away from the end of The Next Generation, having spent more obsessive time with the good doctor, Captain Picard, and Lt. Commander Data than I’d care to admit. To mitigate the horror of finishing the series, I was eager to watch The Dandies perform their latest installment of Holodeck Follies, an improvised Star Trek adventure with songs and special guests.

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Review: Porch View Dances (Kaeja d’Dance)

Photo of Amarai, Leslie and Lori Endes by Shana Hillman

Site-specific dance show brings performance to Toronto’s front porches

Site-specific shows don’t get more specific than the front porches of your friends and neighbours. That’s the idea behind Porch View Dances, a series of short contemporary dance works developed by Karen and Allen Kaeja of Kaeja d’Dance: it enlists community members and their porches and front lawns, the public-facing aspect of their living spaces.

These brave neighbourhood volunteers perform choreography by professional dance artists. Now in its fourth year, the award-winning show has branched out to Ottawa, Kitchener, and Moncton. It’s very approachable, being run by donation, and takes the audience on a charming walking tour through Seaton Village, a cosy neighbourhood just steps from busy Bathurst and Bloor.

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Listening Songs: Listening Choir (Christopher Willes and Adam Kinner) 2015 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Listening Songs: Listening Choir logo courtesy of the company

I’m not good at making noise in public. I’m always the person in a group who gets uncomfortable when the noise level gets too loud, worrying that we are bothering the people around us. So, when I was given a homemade, portable speaker to carry around during Listening Songs: Listening Choir, a Live Art event at the 2015 SummerWorks Performance Festival, my anxiety was heightened and I was initially hesitant to push “play.” There were rewards to be had, though, in being loud and quiet at the same time.

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The Hum (Theatre Gargantua) 2015 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Jenny Aplin, John Gzowski and Julia Aplin provided by rockitpromo

The Hum (A Theatre Gargantua SideStream Cycle with the GzAp Collective), playing at SummerWorks 2015, is a sweet family show about the magic inherent in the natural environment around us. It’s presented by venerable Toronto company Theatre Gargantua, created by and starring Julia Aplin, John Gzowski, and their ten-year-old daughter, Jenny Aplin.

The show was inspired by Jenny’s paintings, and tries to tap into the hum of the Earth. Much like a ten-year-old kid, though, it’s a show that has high aspirations (and a promising opening monologue) but doesn’t quite know what it wants to be yet.

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The Unpacking (7th Cousins) 2015 SummerWorks Review

Photo of Pennsylvania map by rockitpromoThe Unpacking (7th Cousins), playing at SummerWorks 2015, is the culmination of a month-long walking trip undertaken by Erin Brubacher and Christine Brubaker–or perhaps it’s just the first step in a new journey. When it seemed like everyone wanted to know if they were related, they began to joke that they were “7th Cousins.” Turns out that was a misnomer – they may actually be 6th cousins – but as they looked into their heritage, a long voyage by an ancestor from Pennsylvania to Ontario sparked their curiosity.

They wanted to recreate the trek, walk through their own fields, ford their own rivers, scare off their own bears (okay, that last one was more a necessity than a desire). Soon after the idea emerged, the planning began, and they were on their way. They gave themselves a limit of thirty days. Last night they returned home, and The Unpacking began.

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