Though it appears a saccharine, nostalgic romp at first glance, Movin’ Melvin Brown‘s self-titled revue is a genuine adventure through memory and music. Perhaps an unorthodox choice when the Toronto Fringe Festival offers shows considered more cutting-edge, but Brown’s performance is more layered and stimulating than it first appears.
In The Last Minute Slam, looks can be deceiving. Comedy duo Definition of Knowledge step onto a bare, black-curtained stage at the St. Vladimir Institute Theatre in sneakers, jeans and t-shirts. Though modest in appearance, they spend the next 55 minutes slaying the audience with a gut-busting sketch-slam extravaganza that tackles real-life issues like racism, bullying, and patio remodelling. This is what the Fringe Festival was made for, dear readers.
bloom blends poetry and theatre in a play on memory, at Buddies in Bad Times in Toronto
bloom, put on by Modern Times Stage Company at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, is a quasi-memory play set in a dystopian future ravaged by endless war. In this world — or what’s left of it — the past cannot be buried, but whether or not that’s a good thing depends on your perspective.
Jerusalem is a “a fable for a gentrified generation” on the Toronto stage
The Canadian premiere of Jerusalem, written by English writer Jez Butterworth, took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, both on stage and off, to produce. This is apparent from two things. The first is (are) the numerous companies that collaborated to make the Toronto production happen, namely Outside the March, The Company Theatre, and Starvox Entertainment. The second is the immaculately-crafted, unrelenting, coo-coo-bananas-craziness in every moment of this performance.
The play takes place throughout the course of nine hours in the woods of Wiltshire, a county in the south-west of England. In these woods lives Johnny “Rooster” Byron, ex-daredevil and local troublemaker, who is about to be evicted from his caravan so that condos can be built on the land.
Toronto’s Tapestry Opera fuses opera with Persian music for a new experimental opera
“You’ve probably never seen anything like this before,” says Tapestry Opera‘s general director Michael Hidetoshi Mori, also the director of Tap Ex: Forbidden, the latest in the company’s series of new, experimental operas. Although it’s uncommon for a director to appear on stage prior to a performance to explain their creative rationale, it’s an unusual show, and a little bit of encouragement makes it more accessible and rewarding.
Hart House stages The Crucible, now playing on the Toronto stage
Since its debut to the stage in 1953, The Crucible has never been a play that goes easy on its audience, and Hart House‘s version is no exception. However, on this journey to Salem, we pass by the historical realism typical of productions of this show, and instead drive straight into horror.
IMP, at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, is an occult-driven play that leaves you “breathless”
Created by Epigraph Collective and produced by Filament Incubator, IMP is a drama that weaves together social justice and the occult in a narrative that is both emotionally raw and stylistically disciplined. I can’t think of the last time a theatrical performance rendered me motionless and breathless for the duration of its run time, but by god, this play did it.
The cult-classic horror/comedy musical dazzles Toronto audiences again
Currently touring across North America, Evil Dead: The Musical is currently on its stop in Toronto. This marks a triumphant return to the city in which the musical first debuted in 2003, and it’s hardly slowed down since. As much fun as I had at this show, it makes me wonder if my job as a theatre critic isn’t a wee bit redundant. I am supposed to unpack this production, and explain its quality in layman’s terms, and whether you, dear readers, should see it. The thing is, this show speaks pretty well for itself.
Flashing Lights delivers a heavy dose of theatre realism on stage in Toronto
Science fiction is a very tricky genre to pull off in a sphere such as independent performing arts. This is something that the creators at Bad News Days and Ahuri Theatre must have been aware of, given their bold, “challenge accepted” attitude in the concept and execution of Flashing Lights.
Dauntless City Theatre presents an al fresco gender-bent Two Gentlewomen of Verona in Toronto
Theatre’s greatest triumph as a medium is getting us to engage in dialogue and ask questions. Dauntless City Theatre‘s latest production poses an age-old question: would it be awesome to do a gender-bent, inter-sectional feminist, immersive adaptation of Two Gentlemen of Verona with a dog wearing a tiny cowboy hat? Yes, yes it would.