All posts by Jennifer McKinley

Review: Abyss (Tarragon Theatre)

Abyss, Tarragon Theatre

Tarragon Theatre presents the English-language premiere of Maria Milisavljevic’s play Abyss in Toronto

Abyss, playing at Tarragon Extraspace, is a dark thriller about a young woman who goes missing and her three friends who try to find her. I was immediately drawn to the mystery of the play, the vanishing woman theme has preoccupied me for several years. I was also compelled by the setting and the backstories of the three main characters, who are immigrants or children of immigrants from Serbia and Croatia to Germany.

Abyss begins the night Karla Richter goes missing and it is told from the perspective of the narrator, Karla’s boyfriend’s roommate. The police are unhelpful during the first week of Karla’s disappearance and the three friends, the narrator, the narrator’s sister and Karla’s roommate, Sophia, and Karla’s boyfriend, Vlado, take it upon themselves to find her. Tensions rise, mysteries reveal themselves and the bonds of relationships are tested throughout the course of a very cold and bleak month. Continue reading Review: Abyss (Tarragon Theatre)

Review: Fishskin Trousers (Cart/Horse Theatre)

Fishskin Trousers

Three personal stories intertwine in Fishskin Trousers on stage at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto

Fishskin Trousers is a play told in three stories by three different people in three different time periods. Walking into Theatre Passe Muraille’s backspace felt like we were docking on a waterfront as the sound of lapping waves and haunting cello notes set the mood. A carpet of fishskin is moored to the edge of the stage and three chairs sit in a diagonal line inviting the storytellers in to share their tales.

Enter Mab, Ben and Mog. Mab is a servant at Orford Castle in 1173. Ben is an Australian radar scientist on assignment at the Ness in 1973. Mog is a teacher who returns to her home on the Ness in 2003 to make a very important life decision. Continue reading Review: Fishskin Trousers (Cart/Horse Theatre)

Review: Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz (Wakka Wakka Productions/Norland Visual Theatre)


MR with Boots High ResActors and puppetry bring life to Fabrik: The Legend of M Rabinowitz on stage at the Toronto Centre for the Arts

On Thursday night, I trekked to North York to see Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz at the Toronto Centre For The Arts. Fabrik is the story of Moritz Rabinowitz, a renowned Jewish tailor in Norway and his life as a businessman, husband, father and political pundit. The story is set against the backdrop of pre-World War II Europe, when the global economic crisis was paving the way for political extremism and a rising tide of antisemitism.

Fabrik is very much about the Jewish experience at a very crucial time in European history. Rather than being a pedantic lesson, Fabrik is a touching, humorous and candid glimpse of one man in extraordinary circumstances. We observe the titular character as boisterous and full of life as he manages and expands his business, negotiates a less-than-perfect relationship with his wife and watches his daughter grow up, marry and start a family of her own.

We see Rabinowitz rally against restrictive political and economic policies levied against Jewish people. His writing inevitably makes him the target of the invading Nazis and he is captured, imprisoned and murdered. Pretty heavy stuff. Enter the puppets. Continue reading Review: Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz (Wakka Wakka Productions/Norland Visual Theatre)

Fringe Town Hall Meeting: Notes From The Underground

Last week’s Toronto Fringe Town Hall meeting may have been light on attendees but it was heavy on productive conversation, including remote contributions from friends via Twitter. Everyone in attendance was encouraged to raise questions and concerns and to share commentary as Kelly Straughan, the Executive Director, ran the show.

First up was a report on the success of the 2014 festival. Last year was a record breaker for Toronto Fringe: the highest selling festival in the organization’s history. No small feat. The Fringe Club was another success as evidenced by artist and audience feedback as well as bar sales $15,000 higher than expected.

We didn’t wait long before addressing the BIGGEST change: ticket sales. This past year, Fringe introduced a new ticketing policy where 100% of show tickets were made available for purchase in advance. In previous years, 50% of tickets were available in advance while 50% went on sale at the door starting one hour before show time. Continue reading Fringe Town Hall Meeting: Notes From The Underground