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.

LuminaTO 2009 – 5 O'Clock Bells

By Sam Mooney


Go see 5 O’Clock Bells!

Tonight I saw the Toronto Premiere of 5 O’Clock Bells, a one-man, eight (or 9, maybe even 10 – I lost count) character play written and performed by Pierre Brault about the life of jazz guitarist Lenny Breau.

I loved it. I was literally buzzing when I left the theatre – still am. Best 75 minutes I’ve spent in a while.

Before tonight I knew nothing about Lenny Breau. His name was familiar but I couldn’t remember where I knew it from. My son-in-law reminded me that Randy Bachman refers to him often – “the great Lenny Breau” – on Vinyl Tap. It didn’t matter than I knew nothing about Breau’s life or music, 5 O’Clock Bells stands on it’s own.

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Griffin Poetry Prize Readings – poetry as theatre

by Sam Mooney

It’s been years since I went to a poetry reading.  Tonight I went to the Griffin Poetry Prize Readings. Elaine, who came with me, had never been to one.  

I can’t even remember where I read about the Griffin Prize or about the readings by the poets shortlisted for the awards but I remember thinking that it really wouldn’t be that different than a playwright reading a play. A performance.

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Them & Us – Theatre Passe Muraille


by Sam Mooney

Them & Us, playing at Theatre Passe Muraille, isn’t really a play; it’s a series of vignettes. All these portraits and sketches focus on male-female relationships and the trouble we have connecting with each other.

You’re going to want to see this one with a friend, because you’re going to want to talk about it afterwards. It would be ideal to go with a friend of the opposite sex. That way you can ask if women say “I don’t believe in romantic love” or if men say “I want to stab you with a fork…in the shoulder”, or if those seem to just be ‘guy things’ or ‘girl things’.

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American Squatter by Barry Smith (Toronto Fringe 2008 Review)

by Sam Mooney

american-squatter I think I’d go see Barry Smith read the phone book as long as he had a Powerpoint presentation with it.  He’s a Powerpoint genius.  He also had the foresight to save the home movies and tape recordings he made when he was a child. Thank you Barry.

American Squatter is an autobiographical monologue that follows Barry the child from his home in Mississippi to his new home in Southern California to his life as a squatter in London in the late 80s.  Sort of a coming of age with the help of skateboarding, drugs, and music monologue interspersed with home movies and videos.

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Jem Rolls – how i stopped worrying and learnt to love the mall by jem rolls (Toronto Fringe 2008 Review)

jem-rolls First – go see Jem Rolls.  Even if you have to skip something else. 

His show is an hour of high-energy, full-body "theatricalised performance poetry".  I had no idea what that meant when I read the blurb in the program but it sounded interesting so I went with no expectations. 



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Sherlock Holmes & the First English Gentleman by Doug Warwick (Toronto Fringe 2008 Review)

Review by Sam Mooney

sherlock My 82 year old mother and 15 year old niece are fringing with me for three days. My mother loves big musicals but she’s open to seeing other theatre. She sees this as an experience. My niece doesn’t have a lot of theatre-going experience. As a bonus, Megan was with us.

The play was long by Fringe standards, 85 minutes. It could have ended at least 5 minutes earlier. None of us really understood why the last scene was included.

Peter Treadwell, who played Dr. Watson and other characters, was terrific. Not that Nick Cumming and Tina Sterling weren’t.

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Black Watch – Luminato 2008

Review by Sam Mooney

Go see Black Watch! If you’re reading this on Friday morning – June 13 – there are 5 more performances. The play is based on interviews with soldiers – a tank crew – who served in Iraq with the Scottish Black Watch Regiment.


It’s an amazing theatrical experience. It’s funny, and sad, and horrifying. There’s singing and dancing, some quiet moments, and a lot of action.

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