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.

Theory – Staged Reading – The New Ideas Festival – Alumnae Theatre

By Sam Mooney

Long title, isn’t it?

I saw Theory by Norman Yeung, a wonderful staged reading, on Saturday as part of The New Ideas Festival at Alumnae Theatre. I didn’t go planning to review it but it was so terrific that I decided to write about it – and about staged readings.

Theory is a beautifully written play about a film course, a professor, her students, technology, new media, and privacy. There wasn’t really a set. There were chairs for the actors and for the person who read the stage directions. Each of the actors had a script and read from it. They read as if they were performing, not as if they were reading. It really is like a radio play.

You may be asking yourself “what is a staged reading?”

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The New Ideas Festival 2010 – Week One – Alumnae Theatre

by Sam Mooney

New Ideas Festival 2010 This is the 22nd New Ideas Festival hosted by Alumnae Theatre Company, so you know that they’re doing something right. The Alumnae website describes it better than I can: “The New Ideas Festival is a juried, three-week annual festival of new writing, works-in-progress and experimental theatre, with a different program of plays each week, and a staged reading on Saturdays at noon. It runs from March 10 – 27, 2010. There are 18 scripts in the Festival this year – something for everybody: long ones, short ones, funny, sad, tension-filled, silly, and some surprises that we won’t give away.”

It’s a juried festival so you know that it isn’t going to be a crapshoot – every show will have some merit. Of course, they may not all be to your taste.

This week, there are 4 plays, listed below in order of presentation:

  • JOIN THE CLUB by Suzanne Courtney & Leora Courtney-Wolfman • Directed by Stacy Halloran
  • AN INKED HEART by D.J. Sylvis • Directed by Heather Keith
  • A VERY DIFFERENT PLACE by Carol Libman • Directed by lindi g. papoff
  • ASHES TO ASHES by M.P. Fedunkiw • Directed by Maureen Callaghan

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Toronto March Break 2010- Theatre Arts Activities for Grandparents and Kids

By Sam Mooney

As I started looking at what’s on in theatre for Toronto kids this March break, I found myself wishing that I was a kid – or that my grandson was older so I could do some of these things with him. You don’t actually have to be a grandparent to enjoy the various activities and performances.

We’re looking at activities that fall into two broad categories – day camps and workshops, and performances. Some are free, some are cheap and some aren’t.

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talk – Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company – Jane Mallett Theatre

By Sam Mooney

Talk at Jane Mallett Theatre

Until tonight, all I knew about talk was “Clashing views about the Middle East conflict threaten a friendship in this drama.” I expected that it would be difficult to “ignore” the politics and concentrate on the theatre. I also expected that it would be, if nothing else, an interesting play.

Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company’s production of talk at the Jane Mallett Theatre is not only interesting, but a wonderful evening of theatre. The play entertained me, left me with a lot to think about and didn’t hit me on the head with a hammer.

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Rebecca Northan in Blind Date – Harbourfront Centre

by Sam Mooney

Rebecca Northan in Blind Date

When I first heard about Rebecca Northan’s Blind Date last year the idea made me feel a bit squeamish. Blind Date is an improvised show where Northan – as Mimi – picks a man from the audience as her blind date for the evening after her arranged date is a no show. Definitely cringe potential.

Then I heard so many good things about it that I really wanted to see it, but it was sold out. So when I heard the show was coming back to Toronto – to the Harbourfront Centre as part of World Stage

…obviously I had to see it. And so should you. It was a wonderful evening.

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Factory Girls at the Alumnae Theatre

by Sam Mooney

Factory Girls - Toronto Irish Players

I spent some time in Donegal thanks to the Toronto Irish Players’ production of Frank McGuinness’s play Factory Girls at the Alumnae Theatre. It’s the first play by Frank McGuinness that I’ve seen and also the first production by the Toronto Irish Players. Both are now on my see again list.

Factory Girls follows 5 women working in the inspection department of a shirt factory in Donegal in the ‘70s. The factory is old, the economy is crap, the manager is new, the union rep is old which means there’s lots of built-in tension and conflict.

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Hay Fever – Alumnae Theatre Company

By Sam Mooney

Cast of Hay Fever playing at the Alumnae Theatre

Want to be entertained? Hay Fever, playing at the Alumnae Theatre will do so in grand style. Written in 1925, Hay Fever is Noel Coward at his funniest. The plot – and I use the term loosely – revolves around a family and their weekend house guests in the country.

It’s very funny. The set is a sweet re-creation of a country sitting room. Throughout the play there was a silk stocking hanging from the chandelier that no one seemed to notice. There was also a barometer that kept falling off the wall, – I think this was actually a prop issue – but it was still funny every time it happened.

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Next Stage Festival – The Making of St. Jerome – eastBOUNDtheatre

By Sam Mooney

The Making of Saint Jerome

Have you ever noticed that plays based on actual events are always heartbreaking? The Making of St Jerome from eastBoundplayers playing as part of the Next Stage Festival is no exception. The most heartbreaking thing about the play is that there are no answers, not even to the most basic question. Why?

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Next Stage Festival – The Red Queen Effect – Seventh Stage Productions

By Sam Mooney

The Red Queen Effect

The Red Queen Effect – from Seventh Stage Productions – is playing as part of the Next Stage Festival. Sometimes I’m a bit slow on the uptake. It took me till the end of the play to realize that ‘the red queen effect’ must refer to running in place as fast as you can just to stay in place.

There was a lot of running, but it seemed to me this Alice did get where she wanted to go. Or at least she managed the first leg of the trip.

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Next Stage Festival – Like Father Like Son? Sorry – Chris Gibbs

By Sam Mooney

Chris Gibbs - Like Father Like Son? Sorry

How is it that I’ve never seen Chris Gibbs until now? He’s very funny, a bit weird, definitely quirky, and incredibly entertaining. 

His show – Like Father Like Son? Sorry – is part of the Next Stage Festival running until January 17th. 

According to the blurb Like Father Like Son? Sorry “… playfully explores the fears, worries and surprises of being a new father, and the absolute terror of wanting to be a good one.” But this one-man show (it says “one-man show creator” in the blurb so I figure I can say it here,) is about so much more than fatherhood. 

The show opens with Chris channelling Marlon Brando as Jor-El – Superman’s father. He comes back to Superman and other super heroes at various points in the 95 minute show. Some of his lines are almost throw-aways, if you aren’t paying attention they’re gone and you find yourself thinking, “Wait! I missed that. Go back!”

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