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: http://captiveviscera.wordpress.com/

The Homemaker (Convection Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

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My evening out at the Toronto Fringe Festival was characterized by an overwhelming nostalgia. Walking into the Annex Theatre for the first time in 18 years, I was instantly transported back to 1995, when I performed in two plays there. I have a great fondness for the intimate venue, which is full of warmth and history, a perfect setting for Laura Anne Harris’ hilarious and heartbreaking one-woman show—The Homemaker.

Continue reading The Homemaker (Convection Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

A Glance At Chinese Performing Arts (Chi-Ping Dance Group & Chinese Collective Arts Association) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

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I must confess that I simply do not “get” dance, and so am not the ideal audience for this show. When I sat down to write this review of A Glance At Chinese Performing Arts by the Chi-Ping Dance Group & Chinese Collective Arts Association which is playing at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, I wasn’t exactly sure what to tell you about it. And so, it is with the utmost humility that I tell you anything at all.

If you’re considering this show as part of your Toronto Fringe experience, you’re likely interested in dance, Chinese culture or both. In which case, you’re sure to get something of value out of the experience. Continue reading A Glance At Chinese Performing Arts (Chi-Ping Dance Group & Chinese Collective Arts Association) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Tomes (Secretly Illiterate Theatre) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

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Tomes is like a party game for theatre people. The Rules: 1. Select a cheesy fantasy paperback at random. 2. Read only the back cover. 3. Act out a made-up-on-the-spot version of the plot. If you show up at St. Vladimir’s Theatre to see Secretly Illiterate Theatre’s Toronto Fringe show, that’s exactly what you’re in for. Continue reading Tomes (Secretly Illiterate Theatre) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Fort Isabel (Blood Orange Theatre and Deviant Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

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Fort Isabel, presented by Blood Orange Theatre & Deviant Productions at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace is haunting and sincere.

The venue itself creates a very specific dynamic between audience and performer. It is narrow and high. No matter where you are sitting, you are essentially looking down on whatever is happening and whomever it’s happening to. In such a position, characters always seem trapped and scrutinized. This is entirely appropriate in the context of this particular story. Continue reading Fort Isabel (Blood Orange Theatre and Deviant Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

The Secret Life of Walter Manny (Trent Arterberry) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

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The Secret Life of Walter Manny is playing at the Palmerston Library and is part of FringeKids! This is the second exceptional kids show I’ve seen at Toronto Fringe this year.  Trent Arterberry’s one-man show is a fast-paced and high-energy adventure which both parents and their children will find fun and poignant.

The story is about the Walter Manny of the title, and the many adventures he has in his own mind—thanks to his very active and vivid imagination. The show is about imagination—how much fun it is, and how it can sometimes get us into trouble. Continue reading The Secret Life of Walter Manny (Trent Arterberry) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Handle With Care (Tangled Web Theatre) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

HandleWithCare (Tangled Web)

Tangled Web Theatre’s Toronto Fringe Festival debut of their inspiring FringeKids! show Handle With Care is remarkable theatre! When you first walk into the Palmerston Library stage you are greeted by a charming woodland scene. It was so much fun to see the children discover the flitting butterflies and the caterpillar inching its way along a branch!

And then the show begins, and you are swept away on a whimsical journey. Bonnie Thomson’s script is full of natural childlike banter, and the three cast members (Bonnie Thomson, Helen Juvonen and Tyler Seguin) are spirited as three kids who stumble upon a mysterious box labeled “Handle With Care.”

Continue reading Handle With Care (Tangled Web Theatre) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Stay With Me (Skylark Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Stay With Me (Skylark Productions)

This review was painful for me to write. So much passion and effort goes into a theatre production; my awareness of this makes it difficult to break the news that a show has failed to satisfy the needs of its target audience. I wanted to like Skylark Productions’ Stay With Me at the Palmerston Library. M.J. Kang’s play (which she has written and is performing) is part of FringeKids!, and I was very much looking forward to it.

When you walk into the venue, one problem is immediately apparent—the stage is bare. There is little to attract the attention of the youngest audience members. (The show’s page on the Fringe website suggests that it is suited best for children 4 to 12.) Continue reading Stay With Me (Skylark Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Tales of Whoa! (Not Bad Abe Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Tales of Whoa! (Not Bad Abe Productions)

Comedy is not just about timing. Y’know what’s an equally important ingredient?—energy! Tales of Whoa! presented by Not Bad Abe Productions at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse is all about perfect energy, and it never falters—not once! If high energy sketch comedy is your thing, this is one show not to miss at Toronto Fringe 2013!

The set-up is fairly sophomoric, but that’s really not the point. Sketch comedy needs to be framed—it’s just a structural thing. The frame is just a necessary evil, much like the prep-work required before a big party; it must be done so that you can then relax and have a good time with your friends, knowing your house won’t fall apart while you’re acting like crazy people. Continue reading Tales of Whoa! (Not Bad Abe Productions) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Just Lift Your Feet (It’s Just A Stage We’re Going Through) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Just Lift Your Feet (It's Just A Stage We're Going Through)

I am wary of one-person shows for I fear the all-too-common phenomenon of an actor desperately trying to show me his or her range. Granted, there is a decidedly actor-ly vibe to It’s Just a Stage We’re Going Through Theatre Company’s production of Just Lift Your Feet at the Robert Gill Theatre. And there is desperation too, but not of the sort I feared. Here is the naked vulnerability of a character who desperately wants to connect to herself and the world in some meaningful way. Continue reading Just Lift Your Feet (It’s Just A Stage We’re Going Through) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review