All posts by Jenna Rocca

Review: Fresh Meat (the Tim Sims Encouragement Fund)

by Jenna Rocca

The Tim Sims Encouragement Fund and The Second City presented their annual showcase of “Toronto’s Hottest New Comedians” on Monday, October 4th. The pageant of all the Fresh Meat was a juried event that will reward $5000 to one up-and-coming comedian, along with a scholarship to the Second City
Conservatory.
Continue reading Review: Fresh Meat (the Tim Sims Encouragement Fund)

Review: Blasted (Buddies in Bad Times)

by Jenna Rocca

Buddies in Bad Times opens its season with the daring Blasted – a violent, darkly sexual meditation on the suffering that humans can inflict on one another. It succeeds because it also observes the potential for love and tenderness that is intrinsic to human relationships.

The production slowly builds its message like a snowball. The 2-hour show has no interval, and is very deliberately and meditatively paced with incredible soundscapes filling the extended darkness between scene-changes. It reaches a crescendo in the second half, resolving itself in a mess of terror, death, and redemption.

Continue reading Review: Blasted (Buddies in Bad Times)

Review: The High-Flying Adventures of Peter Pan

by Jenna Rocca

The Cabbagetown Theatre Co. presented The High Flying Adventures of Peter Pan as a part of the annual Cabbagetown Street Festival. The company, known for its short-format original pieces, annually stages a pantomime-style family show. This year’s edition was a frivolous take on the classic J.M Barrie tale.

In their version much as in the original, the flying man-child (Basil Tamkei) has again lost his shadow, but now resides in Toronto and works for Porter Airlines. Continue reading Review: The High-Flying Adventures of Peter Pan

Review: The Shoeless Comedy Troupe

by Jenna Rocca

The Shoeless Comedy Troupe offer up unadulterated improv-style humour in the rich Toronto Tradition of SCTV and the Kids in the Hall. Effective and elegant incorporation of drag, musical numbers, dance and other dalliances are hung before us like paper stars. The troupe, mostly products of the Second City Training conservatory, is well-versed in mime, accents, and other arts, and there are no props if it can be avoided. Continue reading Review: The Shoeless Comedy Troupe

Review: You Are Here (Rep21)

by Jenna Rocca

By Jenna Rocca

Rep 21 is the culmination of the work of final year students of the Canadore College Theatre Arts program, a production series that was this year staged at Theatre Passe Muraille.

One of the season’s productions was Daniel MacIvor’s You Are Here, a sentimental and miserable tale of a young woman who seems to have no motivations, specific ambitions, or desires. It inevitably ends messily and left this reviewer wondering why she should really care about the character, when it seemed from the outset that she never really cared about herself.

Madelaine Redican plays Alison, the anti-heroine who tells her own story through monologue, whine, and vignettes. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the tone of MacIvor’s piece, it felt overly stilted and repetitive, perhaps to be more naturalistic sounding. Despite that, Redicon makes an attempt to make it all seem charming and sincere, pounding her eyebrows against her forehead with determined earnestness.

Joshua Bainbridge, as her Kevin Smith-like best-friend-who-is-obviously-the-love-of-her-life-but-no-one-seems-to-care gives a pretty dull character some charm. He’s really the only thing that seems to ever cheer Alison up. But this is all in vain when he suddenly becomes a suicidal drug-addict with no forewarning, aside from the earlier establishment that he is addiction-prone. Alison’s character, however neurotic, doesn’t seem to have a pre-existing tendency to become an addict, but their narratives each reach the same tragic conclusions.

There is a lot of pretty late-nineties quasi-spiritualism through which Alison tries to make sense of her life by referring to the “You Are Here” sticker on mall maps, using banal, almost childlike language. She speaks with very deliberate repetition and trips in MacIvor’s writing. This style, common to many modern playwrights, such as Harold Pinter, attempts to mimic the natural course of speaking. To me it actually sounds more stiff: “I knew I wanted to. I knew I wanted to blah, blah, blah. I wanted to,” for example.

The students of Canadore College did what they could with what felt like lifeless and draining material and pretty straight directing by an instructor. In fact, the students’ enthusiasm was quite penetrable.

This production ran in July of 2010, more information can be found on the Rep 21 website. It will be interesting to see what they bring us in the summer of 2011.