All posts by Mike Anderson

Mike was that kid who walked into the high school stage crew booth, saw the lighting board, and went ooooooooooooh. Now that he’s (mostly) all grown up, Mike keeps his foot in the door as a community-theatre producer, stage manager and administrator. In the audience, he’s a tremendous sucker for satire and parody, for improvisational and sketch-driven comedy, for farce and pantomime, and for cabaret of all types. His happiest Toronto theatrical memory is (re) Birth: E. E. Cummings in Song.

And then it happened… (Aspiring Landlords) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

And then it happened… (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival) is a sketch comedy collaboration between two friends and a director, Kris Siddiqi. Despite getting the worst possible time slot for their opening (midday on a rainy Friday), these two performers (Zohaib Khan & Anesti Danelis) made the most of a lousy house and got off to a pretty good start.

Continue reading And then it happened… (Aspiring Landlords) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Recall (Seven Siblings Theatre) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

In Recall (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival), the government has developed a series of tests which it believes can identify “pre-violent” people. This is well-trodden sci-fi territory, as old as Asimov.

Recall pushes the technology to the periphery, focusing instead on a cluster of characters: a subject, an accessory, an investigator, a bystander, and a wildcard. These characters are thrown together in various configurations, and as information flows between them, the story sneaks up behind us.

Continue reading Recall (Seven Siblings Theatre) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Nithy, Ace Detective (Jump Star) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Walking out of Nithy, Ace Detective (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival), I overheard a grown-up talking to another, with about five kids between them: “That wasn’t what I was expecting. That was… that was certainly something.”

It’s a well-acted show with a lot of heart. But I have to say, as concerns the plot and thrust of it, I’m in about the same place.

Continue reading Nithy, Ace Detective (Jump Star) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Traffic Jams (Resilience Theatre) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

In Traffic Jams (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival), Thalie — a songwriter struggling with an artistic block — has staked out a position at the middle of a traffic island, refusing to budge until she completes her indie album. As we get to know her, though, we learn that there’s a lot more going on here than a stalled creative process.

Continue reading Traffic Jams (Resilience Theatre) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Vasily Djokavich: Russia’s #1 State-Approved Comedian (Mike Delamont) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

In his wisdom, the Great and Wise Vladimir Putin (democratically-elected leader of the free world) has dispatched Vasily Djokavich: Russia’s #1 State Approved Comedian on a cultural exchange to the Toronto Fringe Festival. He has brought many laughs, many tears, and also possibly potato! (There is not actually potato: is old Russian joke!)

Continue reading Vasily Djokavich: Russia’s #1 State-Approved Comedian (Mike Delamont) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

The Night Hart Crane Kissed Me (Spindrift) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

In The Night Hart Crane Kissed Me (playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival), three artists meditate upon the life — and death — of the titular Jazz Age poet, drawing upon music, movement, monologue, magic, and more than a little Mae West to explore his complex legacy. It’s a deeply personal meditation, and that may be the rub.

Continue reading The Night Hart Crane Kissed Me (Spindrift) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Mooney on Theatre’s Hot Tickets for Fringe 2017

Hot Tickets header

Every year, Mooney on Theatre brings a team of more than 20 contributors to Fringe. With a team this big and diverse, no matter what you’ve got to show us, we have someone who wants to see it — and we will! As always, Mooney on Theatre will post a longform review of every show in the festival (all 160!) by the end of opening weekend.

But for now, a little buzz: our Hot Tickets are the shows which excited, attracted, intrigued and interested our team more than any others. These are the pieces which turned our heads, tickled our brains, and caused stampedes at scheduling time. Presenting, in no particular order, Mooney on Theatre’s Hot Tickets for Toronto Fringe 2017!


Bendy Sign Tavern (Sex T-Rex)

We love Sex T-Rex. This hyperkinetic, hammy-but-clever narrative comedy group have served up so many of our favourite Fringe experiences: from the post-apocalyptic, totally tubular Wasteland, to razor-sharp perennial favourite Swordplay: A Play of Swords, to my own beloved Callaghan! , these artists have wowed us again and again.

This year, they’re bringing us Bendy Sign Tavern, a full-length foray with puppets and a unique romcom structure. We’re extremely eager to see how these physical comedians work with their new toolkit, and our editor Samantha Wu can’t imagine anywhere she’d rather be:

I’ll admit that I’m late to the Sex T-Rex party. Yes I’ve heard of them (have known about them for years!) always knew they were a riot to watch — but never exactly how much until last year when I accompanied our fellow editor Lin to Swordplay: A Play of Swords. I was sold!

When I learned that Sex T-Rex were offering their Bendy Sign Tavern show at this year’s Fringe Festival, I couldn’t resist. Every year, my Fringe experience has to include at least one site-specific adventure – and this being at The Paddock (where I can also order a beer!) is wonderful. On top of that, it’s a show about life behind the bar run by puppets?! Sign me up.

Bendy Sign Tavern plays at the Paddock (178 Bathurst St.) from July 5th through July 15th. Showtimes vary, see website for details. Ticketing information at bottom of article.

Continue reading Mooney on Theatre’s Hot Tickets for Fringe 2017

The Unbelievers (Lace Productions) 2016 SummerWorks Review

The Unbelievers

A lot of people will find The Unbelievers difficult to watch. While this SummerWorks show avoids graphic violence, the sight of a twisted and brutalized human being, caked with blood and shivering in pain, is not an easy one. Hannah Rittner’s script dares you to give into the flinch instinct and look away.

But, as she also observes, the fact that we have this choice already tells us something important about violence, trauma, war, and the situation of the Yazedis — and about how the West’s wilful ignorance of world tragedies has begun to look like complicity.

Continue reading The Unbelievers (Lace Productions) 2016 SummerWorks Review

SExT (Sex Education By Theatre) 2016 Summerworks Review

Photo of the cast of SExT, all on cell phonesSince their public launch at Fringe, SExT (“Sexual Education by Theatre”) has become a phenomenon, driven by grown-up enthusiasm for this young company.

Seeing the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood wracked by controversy about sexual education, coordinator Shira Taylor invited a group of young people (originally 14-18ish) to devise a theatre piece about sex, sexuality, healthy relationships and healthy identities. Built of spoken word, dance, music and sketches, and packed with parodies and references, it’s easy to see why festival audiences have packed this SummerWorks production.

Continue reading SExT (Sex Education By Theatre) 2016 Summerworks Review

Two Indians (Salt Baby Collective) 2016 SummerWorks Review

Two Indians

Two Indians (playing at SummerWorks) is set in an alley, between the garbage cans and the upturned milk crates. Two cousins and childhood besties — one who stayed on the reserve, the other who left for the city — meet to observe a supermoon.

Eventually, we figure out that Win (Darla Contois) has been sent to try and persuade Roe (Yolanda Bonnell) to return to the rez, at least for a visit: grandma’s not going to live forever, people miss you, are you really happy here all by yourself? Are you whole?

Continue reading Two Indians (Salt Baby Collective) 2016 SummerWorks Review