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.
Continue reading Review: Cymbeline’s Reign (Shakespeare in the Ruff)
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)
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
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.
Continue reading Those Shoes That Light Up (Dame Judy Dench) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review
A modern adaptation of the popular Japanese folktale Issun-Boshi, Mochinosha 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.
Continue reading Oni (Mochinosha Puppet Company) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review
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.
Continue reading Who Killed Gertrude Crump? (Monster Theatre) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review
If I had to sum up Great Battles in History by Mark Shyzer at the Toronto Fringe Festival in one word, I would call it an experience. This touching, hilarious, one-man show tells the story of a failed collaborative project that examined great historical battles from a futuristic perspective. Without giving much away, the story of the steadily declining production crew coupled with historical tidbits about past warlords reveals the significance of individual losses.
Continue reading Great Battles in History (Mark Shyzer) 2014 Toronto Fringe Review
A World Pride Double Bill Takes the Stage at the Revival Bar
The double bill Left Hander in London: The Earthquake and The Get Happy Hour with Judy at the Revival Bar are two very different performances with a lot to unpack. One is an examination of the significance of diversity, while the other is about the joy of celebrity nostalgia.
Continue reading Review: Left Hander in London and The Get Happy Hour with Judy
On stage in Toronto, the absurdist tragicomedy A Clown’s Life cracks many a joke but not all hit home
A Clown’s Life in 2 acts, playing at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, sets a hard goal for itself. A tragicomedy following the lives of a clown (Christian Glas), an agent (Rocky Keller), and a starlet (Lauren Goodman) in the world of show business where a small mix up changes the course of their lives. The production is inspired by the absurdist plays of Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, and the comedy troupe Stella—tough acts to follow.
Continue reading Review: A Clown’s Life in 2 acts