All posts by Stephen Lubin

Review: Picture This (Soulpepper)

Soulpepper’s season opens with Picture This, now playing on the Toronto stage

Along with Waiting for Godot, Soulpepper is kicking off its fall season with Picture This, which you can catch at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until Oct. 7th.

To me, Picture This seemed pretty promising at the outset. It’s a slapstick comedy originally written in 1937 by Hungarian playwright Melchior Lengyel and adapted by celebrated artists Brenda Robins and Morris Panych. I was looking forward to this show, and took my roommate along with 100% confidence that what we were going to see would at least be watchable.

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Party Today, Panic Tomorrow (The Second City Mainstage)

Second City’s newest sketch show delivers the laughs on the Toronto stage

If you’re looking for a great evening out, look no further than The Second City‘s Party Today (Panic Tomorrow), a new sketch revue that’s on until December 30th at their location on 51 Mercer St. That’s plenty of time to check this show out, and I recommend you do.

I love reviewing comedies, but I’ve never actually been to a Second City Mainstage show (only the children’s Christmas show). I left this production thinking I’d been missing out all these years. Continue reading Party Today, Panic Tomorrow (The Second City Mainstage)

Explosions for the 21st Century (Pressgang Theatre) SummerWorks Review 2017

Christopher Ross-Ewart’s show Explosions for the 21st Century isn’t just something to go see, it’s something to hear. It’s being put on at The Theatre Centre Incubator as part of SummerWorks 2017 And I really recommend you give it a watch and a listen.

Ross-Ewart is a sound designer, and among many other things this show is an ode to his passion for the craft. He gives off the air of a dorky tech-guy that’s been put up in front of an audience. He opens by cracking nervous jokes and then starts monologuing while using his soundboard as an aid. Almost immediately, you’ll realize that not only is Ross-Ewart very funny, he has a lot to say Continue reading Explosions for the 21st Century (Pressgang Theatre) SummerWorks Review 2017

Verisimilitude (Cawthra Park Secondary School) SummerWorks Review 2017

Verisimilitude is a grim, dystopian drama written and directed by Kat Schmael. It’s being put on at SummerWorks 2017 by Cawthra Secondary School atthe Pia Bouman – Scotiabank Studio Theatre (6 Noble Street) with just one more performance on August 13th.

Until the morning of, I didn’t realize that this was a high school production. Not that I wouldn’t see student theatre on my own time, but I’ve always felt uncomfortable at the prospect of reviewing it. However, I’m really glad to say that this production totally surpassed my expectations.

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Mother Sea / Manman La Mer & What Do You See? (Crick Crack Collective / Jasmyn Fyffe Dance) SummerWorks Review 2017

Storytelling and dance in a double-bill make for a lovely show with Mother Sea / Manman La Mer and What Do You See?, which are playing at The Theatre Centre BMO Incubator (1115 Queen Street W, Toronto, ON) as part of SummerWorks 2017.

I enjoyed both of these shows, and though they were very different, I found that seeing them back-to-back made for a single cohesive experience. They both feature women of colour telling their stories, just one is in a more literal fashion.

Continue reading Mother Sea / Manman La Mer & What Do You See? (Crick Crack Collective / Jasmyn Fyffe Dance) SummerWorks Review 2017

Moonlight After Midnight (Concrete Drops) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Image of Martin Dockery and Vanessa Quesnelle by Will O'Hare.

In Moonlight After Midnight, a mysterious romance by Concrete Drops playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, a man and woman meet in a hotel room, and we’re not sure why they’re there.

The two unnamed characters act out scenes that may or may not be real, and the rest of this show unfolds like a long series of riddles. The entire time I was struggling to figure out what was going on, but the audience is given just enough clues to stay hooked. The resolution is both poignant and satisfying.
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The Miserable Worm (Let Me In) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Image of (from left to right): Justin Mullen, Emily Howard, Seamus Easton, Michael Ruderman, Justine Christensen, Philip J. Geller, Tymika McKenzie-Clunis, Geneviève DeGraves by Rae Ormshaw.

The Miserable Worm is a modern reimagining of Anton Chekov’s first untitled play (often called Platonov). It’s being put on by Let Me In Theatre at the Toronto Fringe Festival. That original piece has a runtime of about five hours, is apparently very nuanced, and to be honest I didn’t know anything about it going into this.

The Miserable Worm follows Platonov, played by the show’s creator Justine Christensen, an intellectual who’s gathered her friends for a weekend of debauchery in celebration of her birthday. Christensen gives us an aloof, arrogant, and deeply selfish character who ruthlessly turns her friends against her over the course of the show.

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Magical Mystery Detour (Gemma Wilcox) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Image of Gemma Wilcox by Alive Studios.

It’s a tall order for one person to tackle a couple dozen characters in one show. And in Magical Mystery Detour by Gemma Wilcox at the Toronto Fringe Festival you’ll see it being done quite beautifully.

This is a touching show about a woman on a solo road trip at the end of a very long and trying year. It is at times funny and heartbreaking, and Magical Mystery Detour is one of the most impressive Fringe shows I’ve seen.

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Weaksauce (Sam Mullins) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Sam Mullins in Weaksauce

First times are always scary. And in Weaksauce, an original one man show by actor and writer Sam Mullins at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival, we experience some of the most intimate and hilarious first-time stories from Mullins’ past.

Sam Mullins is a masterful storyteller, and he carries this show very well. Clocking in at about an hour and ten minutes, I didn’t quite believe that I was sitting down for a Fringe solo show until I got into the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse and saw nothing but a small black chair and a water bottle onstage. Continue reading Weaksauce (Sam Mullins) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

HANDS DOWN (Shoot Good Films) 2017 Toronto Fringe Review

Image of: Xavier de Guzman, Mathew Isen, Jane Luk, Colin Petierre, Jen Pogue, Christian Potenza, Lauren Vandenbrook by Megan Vincent Photography.

When five strangers are huddled around a car for 100 hours, things are bound to get a little weird. In HANDS DOWN by Shoot Good Films at the Toronto Fringe Festival, things get very weird.

HANDS DOWN is written by Warren P. Sonoda, an experienced television comedy director with credits like Trailer Park Boys and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Going into this show, I was excited to see how someone with a high-caliber, albeit slightly different, professional background would tackle the Fringe Festival as writer and director.
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