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: Prairie Nurse (Factory Theatre and Thousand Islands Playhouse)

Photo of Belinda Corpuz, Mark Crawford, Isabel Kanaan in Prairie Nurse at Factory Theatre, April 2018Prairie Nurse is “fun” and “entertaining”, playing at the Factory Theatre in Toronto

Prairie Nurse opened at Factory Theatre on Thursday. Written by Marie Beath Badian, and inspired by her mother’s immigration story, it’s a very funny play about two young Filipino nurses who arrive at a small rural, hospital in Saskatchewan in mid-winter in the late 1960’s.

The play is kind of a combination of farce and slapstick and hinges on the inability of the Canadians to tell the Filipinos apart. It’s not as cringe making as it sounds; two of the characters have no trouble knowing who’s who, two others can’t tell and feel terrible about it, and the fifth is clueless. The nurses think all the Canadians look the same. Continue reading Review: Prairie Nurse (Factory Theatre and Thousand Islands Playhouse)

Review: Take d Milk, Nah? (Pandemic Theatre and b current)

Jivesh Parasram in Take D Milk, Nah?Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille presents Jivesh Parasram’s new solo show Take d Milk, Nah?

As we were heading to Theatre Passe Muraille on Thursday evening to see the opening of Jivesh Parasram’s solo show Take d Milk, Nah?, my friend Elaine commented that she wasn’t sure that she had been to Passe Muraille before. As I was about to say that she would recognize it we turned the corner and saw a huge inflated cow next to the theatre. There’s no way you can miss it.

Which is good because you don’t want to miss Parasram’s show. Parts of it will make you laugh, parts of it will make you think, and, if you’re a white Canadian, parts of it may horrify you. Elaine and I both enjoyed it although we both had the same quibble. More about that later. Although there was no intermission the show was in two distinctly different parts. It actually felt like two different shows. Continue reading Review: Take d Milk, Nah? (Pandemic Theatre and b current)

Review: Therac 25 (Unit 102 Actors Co.)

Cass Van Wyck & Luis Fernandes in Therac 25Assembly Theatre presents a story of love in the face of cancer treatment, on stage in Toronto

As I was putting my coat on in the ‘foyer’ of the Assembly Theatre after seeing the Unit 102 Actors Co. production of Therac 25, I overheard a woman say to her friend “That was lovely”. Her friend replied “it was”. Uninvited, I joined the conversation and said “It really was.”. The first woman said “The way they used the projection was so effective.”.

And that’s my review in a nutshell. It is a lovely play. Yes it’s about two young people with cancer and yes, a lot of it takes place in St. Margaret’s Hospital and yes, you might shed a tear or two at the end. It’s a play about two young people who have something really shitty in common, meet, become friends, and fall in love. Continue reading Review: Therac 25 (Unit 102 Actors Co.)

Review: Noise (Randolph College for the Performing Arts)

 cast of Noise, Randolph College of the Performing ArtsNoise arrives on the Toronto stage at the Annex Theatre

The Randolph College for the Performing Arts production of Noise opened on Tuesday at the Annex Theatre. This is the first English performance of Maria Milisavljevic’s play Beben (“Quake”), originally written in German. It was first translated by Milisavljevic with David Jansen for a staged reading in 2016. It’s been further updated by Director Birgit Schreyer Duarte and the student cast for this production.

The translating and updating included adding Canadian and Toronto references, which made the text more engaging. The play is in two acts with an intermission, and I have to admit that at the end of the first act I was struggling to understand what was happening. I had an easier time following the changing narratives and was engaged with the play in the second act. By the end, happy ending not withstanding, I was actually feeling kind of depressed. Continue reading Review: Noise (Randolph College for the Performing Arts)

Review: After Wrestling (Blood Pact Theatre with the support of Storefront Theatre in association with Factory Theatre)

Photo of Gabe Grey, Leah Osler, Charlie Kerr, and Anthiny Shim in After Wrestling At Factory TheatreAfter Wrestling explores love, death, and mental illness, at the Factory Theatre in Toronto

On Thursday evening I saw the world premier of After Wrestling at Factory Theatre. It’s billed as “a slacker-comedy turned suicide mystery” and when I first read that I thought ‘whatever that means’. Turns out that it’s as good a description as any.

It didn’t mention the emotional roller coaster ride my friend Marg and I experienced though. The play can turn on a dime. So many times I’d be laughing and then, literally in my next breath, be crying. And vice versa. Playwrights Bryce Hodgson and Charlie Kerr have written a play that pulled me in and had me caring about the characters from almost the first minutes of the piece. It took Marg longer, about 15 minutes. Continue reading Review: After Wrestling (Blood Pact Theatre with the support of Storefront Theatre in association with Factory Theatre)

Review: The Humans (Canadian Stage and Citadel Theatre)

Cast of The Humans, Bluma Appel Theatre, Feb 2017

Tony-winning play The Humans takes to the Toronto stage!

Stephen Karam’s Tony award winning play, The Humans, opened at the Bluma Appel Theatre on Thursday evening. It’s a comedy/drama, funnier earlier on and more dramatic later, about a family Thanksgiving dinner that unfolds in real time, at just under two hours.

We’ve probably all experienced special occasion family dinners like this. Mom, Dad, Grandma (in this case Momo), and the adult kids get together. There’s joking and teasing and bickering and unsolicited advice and sometimes real tension. People talk over each other, little groups form, break apart, and form new groups; people laugh, sometimes they yell, sometimes they cry. They did in my family. And that’s what my friend Patricia and I loved about The Humans; they seemed like a real family. Continue reading Review: The Humans (Canadian Stage and Citadel Theatre)

Review: Jewel (Shotgun Juliet)

Pip Dwyer in JewelJewel, a one-woman play about the aftermath of the Ocean Ranger disaster opens in Toronto

Shotgun Juliet’s production of Jewel opened on Wednesday at Red Sandcastle Theatre. It’s a perfect venue; small and intimate, the audience could reach out and touch the actors – if that wasn’t an incredibly inappropriate thing to do.

Jewel is an intimate, one woman play written by Joan MacLeod. It looks at the aftermath of the Ocean Ranger disaster through the eyes of the young widow of one of the 84 men killed when it sank on February 15, 1982. It was written in 1987 when it wasn’t as common as it is now to look at disasters through the eyes of the survivors. It’s poignant without being maudlin. I really liked everything about it. Continue reading Review: Jewel (Shotgun Juliet)

Review: Omission (Alumnae Theatre)

Photo of Evan Walsh and Thomas O'Neill in OmissionAlumnae Theatre in Toronto celebrates 100 years of female-run theatre with Omission

Friday wasn’t exactly 100 years since Alumnae Theatre presented their first play in Toronto; it was 99 years and 25 days. Close enough. Alumnae is the longest running female-run theatre company in North America — definitely cause for a celebration. And celebrate they did with balloons, cupcakes, and a special cocktail before the world premier of Omission by Alice Abracen.

I love theatre that entertains me and makes me think without ever feeling like I’m being beaten over the head. It can be difficult to raise moral questions and teach lessons about morality without becoming didactic. Abracen does it with ease; she’s a playwright to watch. The play is wonderful — compelling plot, interesting characters, and great character development. I love that her dialogue includes the little throwaway lines and quips that are part of everyday conversation. Anne Harper directs an impressive cast with ease. Continue reading Review: Omission (Alumnae Theatre)

Review: True Crime on Tour (Crow’s Theatre presents The Castleton Massive Production)

Photo of Torquil Campbell in True Crime, Crows Theatre, January 2018Crow’s Theatre presents True Crime on tour in Toronto until January 20, 2018

Torquil Campbell‘s one person show True Crime is on tour and Wednesday night was the opening of a short Toronto run at Streetcar Crowsnest‘s Scotiabank Community Theatre. It’s the story of Campbell’s interest in (or obsession with) Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter aka Clark Rockefeller, a conman who’s now in prison in California.

It’s a play about a play, specifically about Campbell making this play; about going to see Gerhartsreiter in prison, or not going to see Gerhartsreiter in prison. The audience doesn’t really know what’s true and what isn’t. It doesn’t matter. It’s about the play and the performance and both were wonderful. Continue reading Review: True Crime on Tour (Crow’s Theatre presents The Castleton Massive Production)