Games are not only a source of amusement, they are good practice for the heavy challenges of life. Salome’s Clothes is very much about the games that families play, how some games can be constructive and prepare our children for the world, while others (if not carefully tended) can mask ugly problems and allow them to fester.
The play gives us a Mother of two teenage girls, Nila and Salome. To raise her daughters with a respect for the education she never received, she sets up a game where, when one of them uses a particularly loaded word, each must recite a different definition of that word. Each character’s unique definition serves as a metaphor for their particular attitude toward whatever situation is being addressed and reveals the conflicting inner worlds of each woman in that particular moment. Continue reading Salome’s Clothes (Body Theatre) 2013 SummerWorks Review
Utopia. It’s a bold title for a play, right? It’s got all kinds of philosophical baggage that comes with it. Any work of art that stamps such a word on a program owes some allegiance to the weight of that baggage. At SummerWorks this year, Len Falkenstein’s Utopia can wear its title with pride.
The story is this: Karen owns a farm she loves, handed down to her from her father, and she is determined to make a living from it, and create a life for her daughter, Jess. Jess doesn’t want that life, she wants to run off with one of the farm workers—Zach. Into this little family drama, a planet appears and attaches itself to Karen’s property. This planet is full of the natural resources we’ve almost completely squandered here on earth, and those resources attract the attention of corporations and politicians. Will Karen agree to sell her claim to this planet, or will she protect it (as an extension of her farm)? Continue reading Utopia (Theatre Free Radical) 2013 SummerWorks Review
What is an oubliette? I sure didn’t know until this SummerWorks show where I found myself thrown headfirst into one to meet four unnamed women who have survived a war and are forced to deal with each other and the shared memories of their old lives.
An oubliette is a dungeon, with access only through the top. What better venue for such a setting than the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. The space is high and narrow, and you are forced to look down upon the performers who always seem trapped. It is a dynamic that wouldn’t work for all plays, but it certainly works for Think,Pig!‘s production of Oubliette. Continue reading Oubliette (Think, Pig!) 2013 SummerWorks Review
Rushing into The Anglican Church of The Epiphany and St. Mark at the very last minute, I wasn’t able to read the program notes for Purgatory in Ingleton ahead of time. If I had, I would not have felt so lost during the performance. Or rather, I would have understood that my feeling lost was somewhat the point of this SummerWorks play.
“The [play’s] theatrical poetry lies in the fact that the characters all have something monstrous about them, that they are constructs. They musn’t appear too naturalistic. To show the obscurity, the ultimate incomprehensibility of humans, is essential.” Marieluise Fleißer (the playwright). Continue reading Purgatory in Ingleton (Storm and Stress Co. & the red light district) 2013 SummerWorks Review
When I read the synopsis of Always on Alert (playing at the Alumnae Theatre), which tells us that the protagonist is in an isolated cabin in the Arctic attending to “the button” that could put an end to humanity, I was both intrigued and wary. It was sure to be philosophical—always up my alley, but the set-up sounded, to put it mildly, a little too obvious.
A perusal of the company’s website informed me that the “Iconoclasm Theatre Company intends to provoke audiences to examine social norms and collective understandings that may impede social justice” and that their goal is to “not only entertain but challenge audiences to examine culture, religion, and their symbols.” These intentions are certainly evident in David Lichty’s script and direction for Always on Alert. Continue reading Review: Always on Alert (Iconoclasm Theatre Company)
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
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 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, 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 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