All posts by Samantha Wu

Samantha is a writer and a fan of the arts and has been able to find numerous ways to pair the two. Aside from being an editor here at Mooney on Theatre, she’s a photojournalist for Lithium Magazine which gets her writing and shooting about everything from Dave Matthews Band to Fan Expo, and a copy editor/writer for Art Katalyst. She’s passionate about music, theatre, photography, writing, and celebrating sexuality — not necessarily in that order. She drinks tea more than coffee, prefer ciders over beers, and sings karaoke way too loudly. You can follow her on various social media including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Review: Mr. Shi and His Lover (Tarragon with Macau Experimental Theatre)

Tarragon Theatre brings a “bold” and “alluring” Chinese-language musical to Toronto audiences

Playing at the Tarragon Theatre is a production that is quite revolutionary: the first Chinese language musical performance to grace the Tarragon stage, and one that already delighted audiences at the SummerWorks Festival in 2016. Mr. Shi and His Lover, written by Wong Teng Chi, captures the unique facets of Chinese opera that have always spoken to me — bold bravado and delicate nuance — in ways that will entice and intrigue western audiences.

Based on a true story that was adapted into the play M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang and featuring live chamber music performed on stage, this performance blends traditional Chinese opera with modern pop seamlessly. Mr. Shi and His Lover is alluring and a pleasure to watch.

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Review: Bat Out of Hell (Mirvish)

Photo from Bat out of HellBat Out of Hell is a fiery jukebox musical playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto

Jim Steinman, Grammy Award winning record producer, songwriter, lyricist and composer, is likely responsible for many of the power rock and pop ballads you heard on the radio throughout the ’90s. He’s also worked closely with such rock megastars as Meat Loaf, in particular their collaboration in creating the albums Bat Out of Hell  and Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell, which inspired the stage production. Together, they’ve put together the latest jukebox musical sensation Bat Out of Hell, now making its North American debut on stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre just in time for Halloween.

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Review: Waiting for Godot (Soulpepper)

Photo from Waiting for GodotSoulpepper Theatre presents the 20th Century classic play Waiting for Godot in Toronto

For many who have studied acting, Samuel Beckett‘s Waiting for Godot is likely part of the curriculum. And rightly so, as there is much to be learned from studying this play, especially if you’re learning the tricks of the trade for good audience-captivating comedy. The careful nuances of timing, repetition, monumental silence, mime and mimicry, as well as wholly absurd dialogue is what makes up Waiting for Godot. This is a 20th Century classic for a reason and, as usual, the creative forces at Soulpepper have delivered this unique performance with aplomb.

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Landline (XO Secret) 2017 SummerWorks Review

Photo from Landline

What XO Secret is doing with Landline, playing during the final weekend of the SummerWorks Festival, is breaking apart every notion of what traditional and standard ‘theatre’ actually is. Here, one individual doubles as both audience member and actor as they traverse the city on their own, listening to audio cues on an MP3 player. While on their journey — which, without this element, can feel rather isolating — they are texting back and forth with an individual in Hamilton, taking part in the Hamilton Fringe, who are simultaneously embarking on the same journey but in their own way.

This is the kind of interactive performance that takes ‘audience participation’ to a whole new level where everything that you can take out of it is entirely dependent on what you put into it.

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Serenity Wild (Tender Container) 2017 SummerWorks Review

Photo from serenity wild

Serenity Wild, playing at the 2017 SummerWorks Festival, is personally a highly anticipated show and one of the first ones I knew I had to see. As a member of the local BDSM and kink-positive community, I’m excited by the idea of media — be it books, television, movies or plays — that paint BDSM in the light that I’ve always known it to be: a place where consenting adults can explore desires. Serenity Wild promises exactly that.

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Catacomb (Stopgap Theatre) 2017 SummerWorks Review

Catacomb is a site-specific exploration into the life of the honeybee juxtaposed to that of an addict on her downward spiral. Presented as part of the 2017 SummerWorks Festival, Catacomb takes place in an active greenhouse and features a guest appearance by live bees (enclosed in their colony, so I assure you, you’re fine). This intimate performance combines non-linear storytelling, movement, fun bee factoids, and plenty a twist and unexpected turn.

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Rootless (Red Orange Projects) 2017 SummerWorks Review

Photo from rootless

Rootless, playing at the Factory Theatre at the 2017 SummerWorks Theatre Festival, is a story about immigration, about being uprooted and transplanted into a new world and attempting to make it your own. It’s an experience that many of either us or our parents or grandparents have lived through. Rootless is not only touching and poignant, but beautiful and transcendent through its use of projections and shadow puppetry.

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The Smile Off Your Face (Re:Current Theatre) 2017 SummerWorks Review

 

Photo from The Smile Off Your Face

The SummerWorks Festival, to me, seems to be the home for unique and intriguing experimental theatre experiences. This is what drew me to The Smile Off Your Face. A half-hour fully immersive theatrical adventure meant for an audience of one that entices, coerces and even seduces all five of your senses in one memorable experience.

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Review: Flooded (North America)

Mind-boggling physical theatre, Flooded sets sail on the Pirate Life in Toronto

My adventure into exploring Flooded, directed by Ara Glenn Johanson, started with my desire to explore the unknown. Reading the press release for the show, I knew it would take place on board The Pirate Life ship, that it involved highly physical theatre presented in a non-narrative style, and that there was something about the pelvis, which I perceived to mean this show would be raunchy. I learned just enough to find this production wacky, which was all I needed to want to explore further, but I still had no idea what I was walking into. I also figured that at the very least, I would get to hang out on a boat for an hour.

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Review: Vimy (Soulpepper)

Wesley French, Tim Dowler-Coltman, Sebastien Bertrand and TJ Riley, photo: Cylla von TiedemannSoulpepper Theatre presents Vimy, playing as part of Canada 150 in Toronto

Continuing with the celebration of Canada 150, Soulpepper presents a play written by Governor General’s Award winning playwright Vern Thiessen. Vimy explores the battle of Vimy Ridge, one of the great battles that shaped the outcome of World War I. In a gut-wrenching and emotionally tumultuous performance, Vimy is a story that will leave you stunned and speechless.

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