All posts by Mara Gulens

Review: Scotland Road (Amicus Productions)

The Titanic is revisited in a survivor’s story in Scotland Road playing at Toronto’s Papermill Theatre

A line at the end of Scotland Road says it all: “You’re nostalgic for a disaster you never knew.” Yes. We. Are.

Even after a blockbuster movie, underwater documentaries and interactive artifact exhibits where you pick a card that determines whether you live or die, we still trek across icy parking lots (how appropriate!) to a relatively unknown playhouse in the depths of Toronto’s Don Valley to witness yet another rendition of the Titanic story.

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Review: The Little Mermaid (Ross Petty Productions)

Witty Toronto references fill this version of The Little Mermaid, a fun play for the family, at the Elgin Theatre

Of the dozens of references to contemporary culture in Ross Petty Productions’ pantomime The Little Mermaid, my 12-year-old theatre companion got all but one. Indeed, I explained “the vibrating thing in the handbag” to her.

But it was me who repeatedly leaned over to ask her who was the original singer of some hit song or where a funny quote came from. “Ontario’s O-fish-al family Musical!” is so smack-dab 2013 that you might need a junior translator to get it.

Fortunately, The Little Mermaid is just as thick with allusions to current day Toronto politics that adults have enough to keep them busy. It also features a stellar cast that makes for no regrets that you’re not up the street at the other “Dalt Wisney” production.

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Review: The Valley (Tarragon Theatre)

A complex story of parenting, mental illness and policing play out in The Valley at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre

There’s a painful moment in Tarragon Theatre‘s The Valley when time stops. “I don’t know how to feel better,” says one of the characters.

I won’t tell you which one (I’m not even sure I remember). The play features a cop, a teenager and two mothers.

It’s about the hot button issues we hear about in the media all the time – mental illness, parenting, policing. There’s a complex overlap between those of us hurting and those aiming to serve and protect (whether at home or on the streets). Pain is real to all of us. Continue reading Review: The Valley (Tarragon Theatre)

Review: A Few Brittle Leaves (The Cabaret Company)

A Few Brittle Leaves

In A Few Brittle Leaves, the women are men, the men are gay, and for this straight, female theatre reviewer, the play’s self-proclaimed exploration of aging gracefully is just as important as the question: how the heck do those guys do it?

Gavin Crawford of This Hour has 22 Minutes fame plays Viola Pie, the straight-laced half of two spinster sisters living in the classical, English town of Upsydownsyshire. Crawford’s portrayal is absolutely straight and totally real. If I hadn’t known who was who, seriously, I would have thought the woman on stage was female.

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Review: Blue Planet (Young People’s Theatre)

An eco-aware theatrical production return’s to Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre

Blue Planet 2

Lots has changed since YPT’s highly successful world premiere of Andri Snær Magnason’s Blue Planet eight years ago.

Eco-awareness is everywhere – in our 5c plastic shopping bags and our reusable water bottles. The movie Hunger Games, pitting kids against kids, has given us a nasty take on childhood drama. And flying is ubiquitous: it’s no longer surprising to see actors soaring across the stage.

Which makes remounting Blue Planet a challenge. How do you go beyond the accolades? How do you engage a young audience that’s spending more and more time online and less and less in the real world?

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