All posts by Jenna Rocca

Review: The Odd Couple (Soulpepper)

Soulpepper presents their successful version of Neil Simon’s the Odd Couple in Toronto’s Distillery District’s the Young Centre for the Performing Arts

The Odd Couple is one true masterpiece beloved for generations throughout the 20th century, and with good reason. I’ve loved it since my childhood, and have seen the film starring the indelible duo of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon countless times. Its dialogue is sharp, well-paced, sparkling with outrageous one-liners and tied together with distinct conflict and resolution. It’s pretty much perfect.

I overheard some girl during intermission comment that “it’s not very deep,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s so easy to dismiss comedy because it just makes us so happy, and laugh so hard, but of course, that was just after the first act and the real heartbreak hadn’t happened yet. As with all of Simon’s plays he points out his characters’ foibles and makes them so real that it is hilarious because we can relate to them so well. Continue reading Review: The Odd Couple (Soulpepper)

Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (UC Follies)

University of Toronto troupe UC Follies does Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a first for the Musical Theatre-focused company.

The University of Toronto’s community theatre troupe the UC Follies, this year helmed by Shak Haq, has been known for its yearly large-scale musicals staged at Hart House Theatre. But their long history dating back to the 1800s boasts a rich tradition of all sorts of theatrical endeavors, including the now legendary sketch comedy of folks like Simon and Schuster and Lorne Michaels.

This year Haq is starting a new tradition by performing unabridged Shakespeare plays on the hill in front of Hart House in early September, before the cold becomes too unbearable. The casual and rugged nature of the venue, and the huge hill the audience looks “upstage” upon, offers an ideal setting for Shakespeare’s text and Haq has used all elements of the space to his advantage. Continue reading Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (UC Follies)

The Trolley Car (Solo Collective Theatre) 2011 SummerWorks Review

Solo Theatre Collective brings us a titillatingly dark period piece set in German-occupied Paris: The Trolley Car by Amiel Gladstone. Performed with exquisite depth by Monica Dottor, Rosa Laborde, Matthew Tapscott, the premise takes a dark, philosophical problem and applies it to an evocatively nostalgic love triangle, as indicated in bashful silence by our main protagonist by pressing her index fingers and thumbs together to form the shape.

The question of The Trolley Car is one of choice: given one track with five people tied to it, and a split in it where only one person is tied, a speeding trolley car heads towards the five people. Do you shift its gears so it only kills one, or do you choose to remain uninvolved and let it kill the five?

Even not making a choice is a choice. Continue reading The Trolley Car (Solo Collective Theatre) 2011 SummerWorks Review

Hero & Leander (Common Descent) 2011 SummerWorks Review

Fresh off the Fringe Festival with their last show Cendrillon (click here for Mooney on Theatre review), Common Descent brings us another retelling of a classic story with their new musical Hero & Leander. The story is basically the first known incarnation of the star-crossed lovers plot, but the small ensemble of Greco-Torontonian Gods and Mortals bring a hilarious and exuberant spin on this fairly familiar story-arc.

In his program note, Writer/Director Kevin Michael Shea explains that he started working on the story because he is “afraid of being alone,” but also “of being with someone.” This interesting set of conflicting motivations come out in his re-spinning of the story. Continue reading Hero & Leander (Common Descent) 2011 SummerWorks Review