All posts by Madeleine Copp

Madeleine Copp saw her first show when she was four years old and it was love at first sight. She pursued a bachelor’s in theatre production and design and English literature, culminating in a love for flexible, innovative, and diverse theatre artists that challenge all our preconceived notions of the stage. Her thesis, Printed Voices: Women, Print, and Performance pushed for new interpretations of closet drama from the early modern to modern period in the hopes of seeing more female playwrights included in the performance canon. Since graduating, Madeleine continues to seek out unexpected, startling, and challenging works that leave her angry, speechless, and wonderfully confused.

Review: Waving is Funny

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Waving is Funny, a dance piece on stage at Toronto’s Ralph Thornton Centre, is unfortunately anything but

Tina Fushell’s Waving is Funny, a collaborative movement piece that “began as a joke” before becoming “a very real performance idea” sounds pleasantly kooky. There is something about examining the act of waving that appeals to me, a comedy goldmine just waiting to be explored.

I was curious about the subject matter. How do people wave? What do we look like when we do? How does our environment impact this greeting? And how does this small act relate to other types of waves? The title suggests a wealth of material that could go just about anywhere.

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An Invitation to Hold Mommy’s Cigarette: an interview with Shelley Marshall

Shelley Marshall performs her play Hold Mommy’s Cigarette in Toronto for Mental Illness Awareness Week

When Shelley Marshall suggested the interview take place at her Full Bawdy Loft, I didn’t realize until I arrived that it was, in fact, her loft; a lived-in space that she was inspired to adapt for the October run of her show Hold Mommy’s Cigarette.

The eclectic 1970’s inspired set dominated the room. She gave me a tour, showing me some props and describing the lighting design for her show, opening tomorrow. I felt like I was invited into her home, shown family trinkets, and invited to ask my questions. It’s not surprising Marshall has inspired others to open up about mental illness.

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Review: Offenbach & Hahn (Opera 5)

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Opera 5 brings two rarely performed operettas, L’île du rêve and Le Ba-ta-clan, to the Toronto stage

When a production is advertised as “rarely performed,” I can’t help but be curious. I have a passion for unusual plays, operas, and dances that rarely, if ever, sees the contemporary stage in Canada, so Opera 5’s double bill of Reynaldo Hahn’s L’île du rêve and Jacques Offenbach’s Le Ba-ta-clan, immediately got my attention.

These productions, performed back to back over the course of an evening, suggest some interesting questions regarding how and why smaller companies like Opera 5 choose their seasons. There is always a risk associated with the less-familiar productions where failure can be dramatically highlighted and where success still begs the question of whether specific works should ever make it to a contemporary stage.

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Review: Murder at the Burlesque, episode 1: The Mal-Tease Falcon

Improv meets burlesque meets murder mystery playing at The Social Capital Theatre in Toronto

Dames, private eyes, a dirty business, and a Red Herring, all in one burlesque club! What else can you expect from an improv sketch burlesque show? Willing to take unexpected philosophical side-trips into the nature of fish and man, Murder at the Burlesque: Episode 1: The Mal-Tease Falcon at The Social Capital Theatre/Black Swan Comedy is always ready to have fun with their material. Before I continue in this review, I will outright admit my bias: I love burlesque and I love murder mysteries. Therefore I am excited to report that the combination works (for the most part, anyway). Continue reading Review: Murder at the Burlesque, episode 1: The Mal-Tease Falcon

Review: Cymbeline’s Reign (Shakespeare in the Ruff)

Shakespeare in the Ruff brings an al fresco theatre element to Cymbeline’s Reign in Toronto’s Withrow Park

There is always something special about outdoor theatre — it destroys traditional barriers as, unlike in a traditional theatre, there is very little separation from actors and audience. By virtue of the location, a show has to embrace its environment. For a Shakespearean adaptation, an outdoor venue is a return to form that can either rework the Bard for a contemporary audience or fall into the forgettable traditional style.

Shakespeare in the Ruff’s Cymbeline’s Reign — an adaptation, according to the programme — is a show that is not easily forgotten — even if you have the misfortune of being rained out three-quarters through. In fact, Cymbeline’s Reign is an example of how to do Shakespeare without ever losing an important, contemporary edge.

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Review: Sonny Under the Assumption (Old Norman Productions/Native Earth Performance Arts)

Sonny Under The Assumption is Toronto Theatre with Vision and Purpose

Exactly how do people create social change and why do we consider some more deserving than others? These are the questions that hang over Edward Allan Baker’s Sonny Under the Assumption. Over two acts, we follow the main character Sonny Montecalvo (Nicole Cardoni) as she tries desperately to drum up last-minute funding to save her community centre—a place that is running thanks only to Sonny, her boyfriend Rennie (Sean Shannon), and a ragtag group of ex-convicts. Slowly, the characters pick away at the biases inherent in social assistance programs through scathing outbursts and personal monologues. Sonny Under the Assumption is a smart story that is willing to engage with strong moral questions without offering easy answers. Continue reading Review: Sonny Under the Assumption (Old Norman Productions/Native Earth Performance Arts)

Pulling the Nostalgia Strings: Puppetry at the Fringe

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At my second show of the Toronto Fringe Festival I had an interesting conversation with a volunteer. Both of us were puppet show fans and both of us were struck by the sheer amount of puppetry available at this year’s festival. Not counting children’s shows, there are at least seven separate adult puppet shows—assuming adult puppet shows are rated PG and up–that indicate a resurgence in puppet popularity. Continue reading Pulling the Nostalgia Strings: Puppetry at the Fringe

Those Shoes That Light Up (Dame Judy Dench) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

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There may or may not be an underlying thematic connection between the various sketches of Dame Judy Dench’s Those Shoes That Light Up at the Toronto Fringe Festival, but as the show songs suggest, forget about it. The point here is the comedy.

Consisting of Jessica Greco, Claire Farmer, Chris Leveille, Shannon Lahaie, Gavin Pounds, team Dame Judy Dench deliver a fun night.

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Oni (Mochinosha Puppet Company) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

Oni

A modern adaptation of the popular Japanese folktale Issun-BoshiMochinosha Puppet Company’s Oni at the the Toronto Fringe Festival delivers a visual delight with Japanese shadow lantern puppets that inspires.

The entire play is narrated by storytellers Daniel Wishes and Seri Yanai, who simultaneously work a variety of paper puppets, control their lighting, and occasionally accompany dancing puppets with recorder renditions of popular theme songs.

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Who Killed Gertrude Crump? (Monster Theatre) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review

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There is only one question that needs to be answered in the premiere of Monster Theatre’s Who Killed Gertrude Crump? at the Toronto Fringe Festival, and I’m sure we can all guess what that is. Speaking from beyond the grave, puppet master Agatha Christie, played with delightful madness by Tara Travis, unravels an unpublished murder mystery from her early days.

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