All posts by Sam Mooney

Always a theatre lover Sam realized in middle age that there's more to Toronto theatre than just mainstream and is now in love with one person shows, adores festivals, and quirky venues make her day.

Review: Grimly Handsome (Theatre Animal)

Ben Sanders, Julia Course, and Jeff Irving in Grimly HandsomeStrange but “unlike anything” play takes to the Toronto stage

In keeping with my decision to see plays that sound like they may be outside my comfort zone, I saw Grimly Handsome on Saturday evening at The Assembly Theatre. The press release describes the playwright Julia Jarcho as “a queen of experimental mayhem”–not something I’d usually choose.

It was outside my comfort zone, but not for any reason I might have anticipated. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure that I understood it. I saw it on my own because my friend had a family medical emergency, and I didn’t have anyone to talk with afterwards to help clarify my thinking. Not much in the way of eavesdropping either. The only thing I heard was the woman behind me say, “That was weird. I liked it though. But it was weird.” Continue reading Review: Grimly Handsome (Theatre Animal)

Review: Thirteen Hands (Alumnae Theatre)

Sandi Globerman as Clara in Thirteen HandsAlumnae Theatre presents a series of vignettes exploring generations and connections in Toronto

Do you play Bridge? Maybe your mother did. My grandmother did and I kept thinking about her as I watched Thirteen Hands at Alumnae Theatre on Wednesday night. Carol Shields wrote the play in 1993 and it holds up well. It’s about women connecting, developing friendships, and supporting each other. These things are timeless.

I have to admit that I don’t play Bridge – I can barely play Old Maid, I’m definitely card challenged – and I don’t know anyone who does. Is it still a thing? A weekly Bridge night? It doesn’t matter, the play evoked such wonderful memories for me. Continue reading Review: Thirteen Hands (Alumnae Theatre)

Review: The Chance (Leroy Street Theatre)

Fiona Reid, Claire Burn and Anne van Leeuwen in The ChanceThe Chance, playing at the Assembly Theatre in Toronto, feels “real” with “true” interactions

Hands up anyone else who has never seen a play by George F. Walker. Nor had I until Saturday when I saw the world premier of The Chance at The Assembly Theatre. I’m not sure why I hadn’t seen any of his plays before this, it wasn’t a conscious decision; more a case of never being in the right place at the right time.

Now that I’ve seen one I’m looking forward to seeing more. The Chance is funny, suspenseful, and a social commentary that never hits you over the head. It has strippers, bad guys, mistaken identity, a moral decision, a dead guy, cell phones, and a loan shark. Continue reading Review: The Chance (Leroy Street Theatre)

Review: Bello (Young People’s Theatre)

Gabriel Gagnon, Nicole St. Martin and Morgan Yamada in Bello at YPTYoung People’s Theatre presents Bello, a folktale with scary moments, on stage in Toronto

On Wednesday afternoon my grandson Desmond and I went to see Bello at Young People’s Theatre. It’s billed as suitable for kids from six to nine years old. Desmond is six years and three weeks old. It was his expert opinion that one of the classes attending the performance was a kindergarten class and that the kids weren’t six yet. They seemed to manage just fine.

Bello is essentially a folktale “about a time when there were no phones, no cars, and no light bulbs…” and a young boy named Bern who gets lost in the snow on his way back from school. Continue reading Review: Bello (Young People’s Theatre)

Review: Unapologetically Me: Sharron’s Cabaret For Kids (Young People’s Theatre)

Sharron Matthews in Unapologetically MeSharron’s Cabaret is fun and lively with an engaging message, on stage in Toronto

On Thursday afternoon my grandkid Max and I headed to Young People’s Theatre to see Unapologetically Me: Sharron’s Cabaret For Kids. It’s recommended for kids aged 9-11. Max is only 8¾ but it was fine.

The Sharron in the title is Sharron Matthews and she does a great cabaret around the theme of being yourself. She’s an amazing singer, always a good thing in a cabaret. More than that though, she was so comfortable with the kids in the audience; she was like a really cool aunt who says things your parents don’t say and is funny but tells you important stuff. Continue reading Review: Unapologetically Me: Sharron’s Cabaret For Kids (Young People’s Theatre)

Review: Life After (Canadian Stage, The Musical Stage Company, and Yonge Street Theatricals)

 Ellen Denny Dan Chameroy and Trish Lindstrom in Life AfterBritta Johnson’s musical Life After brings a cast of incredible performers to the Toronto stage

Britta Johnson’s musical, Life After, co-produced by The Musical Stage Company, Yonge Street Theatricals and Canadian Stage, opened at the Berkeley Street Theatre on Thursday. It’s a strong production with powerful music and a really contemporary feel while at the same time giving a nod to traditional musicals.

My daughter Megan came with me. I love going to shows with her. I’m all about what I feel and think after a show. Meg knows why she feels and thinks it. Articulating the ‘why’ is my challenge. We both really enjoyed the show. The audience joined us in weeping, a lovely change for me, but it’s not all tears, there’s lots of laughter. Continue reading Review: Life After (Canadian Stage, The Musical Stage Company, and Yonge Street Theatricals)

Review: Miss (Unit 102 Actors Company and The Spadina Avenue Gang)

Toronto’s Unit 102 Actors Company presents Miss, a new play by Michael Ross Albert

On Saturday I stepped out of my comfort zone and saw Miss, a Unit 102 Actors Company production, at the new Assembly Theatre in Parkdale. Out of my comfort zone because the press release describes the play, by Michael Ross Albert, as an “explosive drama about loss, grief, guilt, and revenge” and I usually avoid anything with that kind of description. I am so glad went.

It was one of those rare evenings of perfect theatre that will stay with me for years. It’s why people make theatre. It’s why I love theatre. Continue reading Review: Miss (Unit 102 Actors Company and The Spadina Avenue Gang)

The Archivist (Shaista Latif) 2017 SummerWorks Review

The Archivist SummerWorks 2017Early in Shaista Latif’s solo show The Archivist, a disembodied, cartoonish voice starts asking her questions about whether she wants a lawyer, disregards her answers, and tells her she has to swear to tell the truth using a complicated oath that involved spinning around.

The show—which opened on Saturday at Pia Bouman – Scotiabank Studio Theatre as part of the 2017 SummerWorks Performance Festival—Latif says, will prove that she’s Afghan. Continue reading The Archivist (Shaista Latif) 2017 SummerWorks Review

The Only Good Indian (Pandemic Theatre) 2017 SummerWorks Review

The Only Good Indian SummerWorks 2017

Are there sentences or phrases you can hardly bear to think about, let alone say? For me, one of those is ‘the only good Indian’. I was fairly surprised after I found myself blithely asking someone “Is this the right line for the only good Indian?” while at Factory Theatre. I guess it’s all in the context because The Only Good Indian is the name of a show that opened on Friday as part of 2017 SummerWorks Performance Festival.

It’s presented by Pandemic Theatre and is hard to describe because it doesn’t fit neatly into pre-defined theatre categories. It’s a solo show created and performed by Jivesh Parasram, Tom Arthur Davis, and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard. The three performers alternate shows. Continue reading The Only Good Indian (Pandemic Theatre) 2017 SummerWorks Review

Let’s Try This Standing (Keep Good (Theatre) Company) 2017 SummerWorks Review

Gillian Clark Gillian Clark in Let's Try This Standing

Let’s Try This Standing brings new meaning to the expression “caught between a rock and a hard place.” When she was 19, Gillian Clark was hit by an out of control SUV and trapped between it and a brick wall.

Her solo show that tells the story of her accident, hospitalization, and recovery opened on Friday at Factory Theatre, part of the 2017 SummerWorks Performance Festival. It’s a lot more cheerful than it sounds. Continue reading Let’s Try This Standing (Keep Good (Theatre) Company) 2017 SummerWorks Review