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: The Summoned (Tarragon)

The Summoned, Tarragon Theatre

The Summoned explores technology in modern life, on stage at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto

In The Summoned, Fabrizio Filippo’s new play premiering at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, “the summoned” are the major figures in the life of a recently-deceased billionaire, head of a tech company and empire, who gather at a budget hotel by an airport to hear the reading of his will.

The play, which tries to answer the question, “how far from our nature can technology take us?” shows a distinctive voice. It’s creative, entertaining, and has fascinating sci-fi implications. It also has numerous rough edges, relies too much on shock value, and strays into writerly self-indulgence, just like our online world. In short, it’s a promising idea that needs another round of beta testing.

Continue reading Review: The Summoned (Tarragon)

Review: Cowboy Mouth (Frolick)

cowboymouthFrolick stages a compulsively watchable Cowboy Mouth as a “happening” in Toronto

I’m going to be completely honest, and perhaps depressingly square, here: though I have nothing against them, I have never taken hallucinogenic drugs. Perhaps that’s what I was missing in Frolick Theatre’s mounting of Cowboy Mouth, Sam Shepard and Patti Smith’s 1971 one-act, which bills itself as a “happening,” with all that entails. Continue reading Review: Cowboy Mouth (Frolick)

Review: Esu Crossing the Middle Passage (Watah Theatre and Storefront Arts Initiative)

d’bi young anitafrika’s Esu Crossing the Middle Passage arrives on the Toronto stage

Esu Crossing the Middle Passage, by d’bi young anitafrika, playing at the Storefront Theatre, is a show with a bitter pill to swallow at its heart. Focusing on the African slave trade, and linking that past horror with current problems of racism and forced diaspora, the show delivers blunt truths in the form of repeated ritual. It is not, perhaps, a “fun” show, but it is often absorbing and sparks a necessary conversation.

Continue reading Review: Esu Crossing the Middle Passage (Watah Theatre and Storefront Arts Initiative)

Review: Orpheus and Eurydice (Theatre TOnight)

OrpheusEurydice

Theatre TOnight presents a moving dance piece exploring modern love on stage in Toronto

Orpheus and Eurydice, devised and directed by Julia Krauss and Nicholas Walsh of Theatre TOnight, is an hour-long dance piece at Canadian Stage’s Rehearsal Hall that merges myth and modern love. It is entertaining and impressive, with strong ideas about the connection, emotion and potential destruction between people involved in relationships, that ultimately don’t completely coalesce into something fully cohesive. However, even considering the concept is worth your time.
Continue reading Review: Orpheus and Eurydice (Theatre TOnight)

Review: You Will Remember Me (Tarragon/Studio 180)

You will Remember MeYou Will Remember Me is not to be forgotten, now on stage in Toronto

There are a lot of metaphors woven into You Will Remember Me, a beautiful play about early-onset Alzheimer’s by Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Francois Archambault (translated by Bobby Theodore), now playing at Tarragon Theatre in a co-production with Studio 180.

This makes a lot of sense. Dementia, particularly in a family member, is hard to face or explain head-on; the gradual loss of everything that makes up a person we know is difficult to bear. The play is richly written, thematically resonant, and well-constructed. It’s also funny, emotionally stunning, and deeply moving.
Continue reading Review: You Will Remember Me (Tarragon/Studio 180)

Review: Still (Binocular Theatre)

STILL

Jen Silverman’s Still is based on the almost-true story of a woman’s stillbirth, as told in professor Lisa Heineman’s memoir Ghostbelly. It’s wonderfully theatrical, with rich language and inventive, complex characters, in particular featuring a trio of fascinating, strong women. The play won the 2013 Yale Drama Series Prize, and Binocular Theatre‘s production at Unit 102 is its first professional one following a run at Juilliard. It definitely has the feel of graduate theatre school about it (in a good way), packed with a polished, controlled rawness and delighting in the form.

Continue reading Review: Still (Binocular Theatre)

Preview: Mikveh (Harold Green Jewish Theatre)

Mikveh

On Sunday March 6th 2016, the Harold Green Jewish Theatre presents a dramatic reading of Mikveh, by Hadar Galron, at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. When Mikveh premiered in Israel in 2004, it was met with wide acclaim and some controversy. The show throws open the doors to not only a very private ritual in the Orthodox Jewish community (a mikveh is a bath used for ritual immersion, often used by women to regain purity after menstruation or childbirth), but also secrets and scandals that echo real ones faced by the community: felt, but rarely discussed. Continue reading Preview: Mikveh (Harold Green Jewish Theatre)

Review: Well Born (SoCo Theatre)

Photo of Sophia Fabilli and Michael Musi by Darren GoldsteinWell-Born tackles the anxieties of pregnancy, now playing in Toronto

Even those of us who have never had children are acutely aware that pregnancy is difficult. It’s never all Facebook “likes” and warm, familial love; it’s hard work, fear, and even despair at times. This is particularly true in the face of the unknown: before everything is okay, all manner of things might happen. The more unknowns, the worse the fear, particularly with a missing family health history and inconclusive but worrying test results. It’s no wonder there’s a tendency to Google oneself into oblivion.

This is the premise behind Well-Born, a new play by Celeste Percy-Beauregard, presented by SoCo Theatre in association with Truth’n’Lies Theatre at Artscape Youngplace. The play is raw and frantic, sometimes very funny and sometimes deeply unsettling, much like the process of pregnancy itself.

Continue reading Review: Well Born (SoCo Theatre)

Review: Stepping Out (Alumnae Theatre)

Stepping OutFun and “entertaining” tap play takes to the stage in Toronto

Stepping Out, Richard Harris’ 1984 play currently running at the Alumnae Theatre, is what I’d call a “hangout” play. It’s low-stakes, with only mild conflict and very little resolution. Its charm, much like a sitcom, lies in spending time with a group of people over the course of a year or so, told in vignettes from a slowly-progressing amateur tap class attempting to work towards an actual performance. This means the play lives or dies based on how invested you are in the characters and their relationships, and the snappiness of the dialogue. The script’s a bit hoary, but overall it’s fun to step in and hang out for a while. Continue reading Review: Stepping Out (Alumnae Theatre)