All posts by Istvan Dugalin

Apart from his (pathological?) obsession with airplane disasters, Istvan is a filmmaker and film enthusiast, but began his creative adventures in theatre. Starting out as an actor, he soon discovered a preference for life behind-the-scenes. He has experience in lighting design, stage management and production management, but his passion is writing and directing. With several short films and an indie feature under his belt, film has been his focus in recent years, but theatre has been calling him back. You see more of his critical writing at his film reflection blog:

Review: Burn This (Gracemoon Arts Company)

Burn This is “gritty” and “intense” theatre that captivates Toronto audiences

I enjoy all kinds of theatre, from the grand spectacle of mega musicals to the gritty naturalism of kitchen sink dramas. I have a particular obsession, though, with gritty and intense productions in unconventional venues. I am also drawn to poetic narratives where the language itself takes you to a very special place. With their stunning production of Lanford Wilson’s Burn This, Gracemoon Arts Company has crafted a theatrical experience that seems tailored to my very specific sensibilities. Continue reading Review: Burn This (Gracemoon Arts Company)

Review: The Boy in the Moon (Crow’s Theatre)

“Deeply moving” The Boy in the Moon graces the Toronto stage

Crow’s Theatre’s production of The Boy in the Moon, currently playing at their stunning new venue Streetcar Crowsnest, opens with a father leading us through a late night struggle to put his son to back to bed. He describes the scene with an off-the-cuff rhythm that makes it seem commonplace, but we soon discover that it is anything but. His son Walker has a myriad of disabilities caused by a rare genetic disorder (CFC), turning this standard domestic task into an adventure full of humour and horror and love. Continue reading Review: The Boy in the Moon (Crow’s Theatre)

Review: Proof (Theatre UnBlocked)

Proof exceeds expectations, on stage at the Red Sandcastle in Toronto

It seems my thing recently is seeing Pulitzer Prize winning plays at the Red Sandcastle Theatre. I figure the Pulitzer means the play itself will likely be pretty good, and I always love the intimacy of that Queen East venue. So it was with high expectations that I took in Theatre UnBlocked’s production of David Auburn’s Proof.

It exceeded those expectations. Continue reading Review: Proof (Theatre UnBlocked)

Review: Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre & Acting Up Stage Company)

Passing Strange is a “sexy, poignant” coming-of-age story, on stage at Toronto’s Opera House

Pssst, hey you! Are you looking for a good time? You like music? You like stories? Forget about La La Land for a moment and get yourself over to The Opera House to see Obsidian Theatre/Acting Up Stage Company’s production of Passing Strange. Written by Stew (in collaboration with Heidi Rodewald and Annie Dorsen), it fuses R&B, soul, and punk rock to tell the story of a Black youth from late ’70s South Central Los Angeles who goes abroad on a journey of self-discovery.

I loved this show so much! I want to tell you ALL OF THE THINGS. But I don’t want to overwhelm and confuse you, so let me bring my still-tapping feet in line and put my thoughts in proper order. Continue reading Review: Passing Strange (Obsidian Theatre & Acting Up Stage Company)

Review: Rabbit Hole (Deelen with Trouble)

Rabbit Hole is an “astonishing” and “real” story about family loss, on stage in Toronto

Deelen with Trouble’s production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Rabbit Hole, currently playing at Red Sandcastle Theatre, is an astonishing piece of theatre. In it, a family deals with the loss of a child. Stated plainly, the premise sounds banal and depressing but this play is funny, intelligent and deeply moving without ever becoming trite or saccharine. Continue reading Review: Rabbit Hole (Deelen with Trouble)

Review: Closer (Mortar & Pestle Productions)

CloserMortar & Pestle Productions presents Closer on the Toronto stage

Mortar & Pestle Productions is currently presenting Patrick Marber’s play Closer at the Gerrard Art Space. With only four characters and very intimate action, the exceptionally small venue feels appropriate; it puts you into a suitably discomfiting proximity to the actors.

Set in London, the story follows two men and two women as they fall in and out of… love? Lust? Despite some very sexy and tender moments, their situation is quite muddy, bewildering and—occasionally—ugly. Continue reading Review: Closer (Mortar & Pestle Productions)

Review: Measure for Measure (Thought for Food)

deborahdrakefordToronto’s Thought for Food re-imagines Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure as a Weimar era cabaret

For Thought for Food’s stylish and passionate, all-female production of Shakespeare‘s Measure for Measure, the Red Sandcastle Theatre has been transformed into a Weimar Republic era cabaret. The ladies—of all ages, shapes and sizes—ply you with offers of song and drink, which they provide, and prime your senses for a tale of corrupt politics and lust. Continue reading Review: Measure for Measure (Thought for Food)

Review: Pomona (ARC)


ARC’s Pomona is dark, terrifying, and satisfying theatre, on stage at Toronto’s Geary Lane Theatre

ARC’s North American premiere of Pomona is a dark and exhilarating nightmare that seems tailor-made for me. Everything—every single thing—about this show appeals directly and forcefully to my specific sensibilities.

My experience began as I made my way to the venue: a converted, industrial space called Geary Lane, at the end of a dark and lonely street. (Some of my favourite theatrical experiences have occurred in obscure, out of the way spaces.) Continue reading Review: Pomona (ARC)

Review: Titus Andronicus (Seven Siblings Theatre)


Titus Andronicus treats Toronto audiences to a “horrific, ridiculous” take on Shakespearean revenge

At The Citadel, Seven Siblings Theatre has given me my first live experience of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and they have surprised and impressed me. I reread the text (for the first time since my early twenties) in preparation for this production, but I still found myself caught off guard by just how perfectly horrific, ridiculous and occasionally tender this play is. Continue reading Review: Titus Andronicus (Seven Siblings Theatre)

Review: Outside Mullingar (Toronto Irish Players)

Outside MullingarThe Toronto Irish Players presents John Patrick Shanley’s generational family drama Outside Mullingar

Up until last night, my only experience of Irish theatre was seeing The Playboy of the Western World at Shaw twenty years ago. I was nineteen then and doubt I fully appreciated John Millington Synge as I remember hardly anything about the play. I am inspired to revisit it, though, because of the Toronto Irish Players‘ quite lovely production of Outside Mullingar, a more contemporary Irish play by John Patrick Shanley, currently playing at Alumnae Theatre. Continue reading Review: Outside Mullingar (Toronto Irish Players)