All posts by Stephen Lubin

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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Review: redShow / blueShow (InspiraTO)

InspiraTO delivers, both in inspiration and entertainment, on stage in Toronto

From now until June 10, there’s something special going on at the Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley St). It’s the annual InspiraTO short-play festival. In the runtime of just one hour, you can see 6 original short plays.

InspiraTO chooses its shows from over two-hundred submissions. With this vast selection, it’s unsurprising that the short plays that make it into the festival are quite good. I was generally impressed by what I saw onstage. These plays are short and to the point; some were a bit too on-the-nose for my liking, but the brevity and variety meant that I was never bored. I really recommend checking out this festival.

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Review: The Play About The Baby (Seven Siblings Theatre)

Intimate production of Edward Albee play takes to the Toronto stage

If you’re in the mood to grab a few drinks at a fine Queen West establishment, have a some hearty laughs, and then seriously question the fabric of your reality, then boy have I got a play for you: Toronto Indie theater company Seven Siblings Theatre‘s production of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer-nominated show, The Play About The Baby.

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Review: Liars at a Funeral (Truth’n’Lies Theatre)

Top of the line comedy in Truth’n’Lies Theatre’s Liars at a Funeral, on stage in Toronto

Sibling rivalry, decades old secrets, and even older grudges come to a head at a fake funeral in Truth’n’Lies Theatre’s original play Liars at a Funeral. This new piece is on stage until May 14 at St. Vladimir Theatre.

This is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in awhile. Take any scene from Liars at a Funeral, and you’ll find that it’s excellently done. Taken as a whole I did find some flaws, but the acting is always on-point, the production value is all there, and the writing is genuinely funny. While the conceit and story-arc leave something to be desired, the script has some of the best original comedy-writing I’ve seen onstage in my time reviewing for Mooney. Continue reading Review: Liars at a Funeral (Truth’n’Lies Theatre)

Review: Hieronymous Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights (Canadian Stage)

Canadian Stage brings the classic painting by Hieronymus Bosch to life in Toronto

This weekend only (April 19-23, 2017), you can see renowned choreographer Marie Chouinard’s rich and vivid work bringing the art of Hieronymous Bosch to the stage in Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

Hieronymus Bosch was a Dutch painter in the 15th and 16th Centuries that created some fantastical imagery of religious scenes. Here, choreographer Marie Chouinard captured the imagery and spirit of Bosch’s most famous work, The Garden of Earthly Delights.

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Review: Spoon River (Soulpepper)

Spoon River returns to Toronto stages with offerings of folk, bluegrass, and cemetery tales

Soulpepper’s Spoon River is in it’s fifth incarnation, and you might want to catch it before it heads off to New York at the end of the month. It’s on until April 21, 2017 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane).

Soulpepper’s Spoon River is an adaptation of the collection of poems by Edgar Lee Masters, which tell the many tales of the dead folk living in the cemetery of the town of the same name. Some of the poems are made into monologues, while others are put to song.
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Review: Our Town (Theatre Rusticle)

Toronto’s Theatre Rusticle incorporates movement into Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town

Theatre Rusticle productions are sparse and anticipated by those in the know. They focus on physical theatre, and I was eager to review their production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, which is currently playing at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre until April 2nd.

I’m not a die-hard fan of Our Town, which is funny because I directed it in my last year of university. I was curious to see what Theatre Rusticle would do with it because I know it can be a divisive show. The first and second acts are purposefully slow, watching small town folk live their “dull” lives. But the third explains why those acts were important so poignantly that hopefully you’ll forgive the play so long as everything has been done reasonably well. And this production does it very, very well. Continue reading Review: Our Town (Theatre Rusticle)

Review: Cage (Soulpepper)

Toronto’s Soulpepper presents the avant-garde theatre piece Cage as part of its new Solo Series

Every time I go to an art gallery, there’s always the weird room. You know the one I’m talking about: the dark room with black and white projections, noise music or static playing over the speakers. It’s the room that you walk into and think “what the hell is this?” but you feign interest if you’re on a date.

Cage is being put on by Soulpepper at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until March 25th. To me, it was a lot like the weird room at the art gallery, only instead of leaving after a few minutes, I watched it for an hour. I’m glad I did though; because regardless of my personal preferences going into it, I concede that this is a challenging piece that delicately toes the line between theatre and performance art. Continue reading Review: Cage (Soulpepper)

Review: Picasso at the Lapin Agile (East Side Players)

Einstein and Picasso walk into a bar… cozy, funny theatre ensues on Toronto stages

Picasso and Einstein meet in a bar in 1904. It sounds like the setup for a joke, but in the case of Picasso at the Lapin Agile it’s the setup for many jokes in this one-act comedy by none other than Steve Martin. Picasso at the Lapin Agile is being put on by the East Side Players at the Papermill Theatre (67 Pottery Rd.) until Mar 11, 2017.

This is a charming little play, often put on by community theatre troupes like the East Side Players. This production got plenty of laughs, and gave each of it’s actors some time to shine. I really appreciated it for what it was, and it’s clear that a lot of effort went into this show.

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Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (George Brown Theatre)

George Brown showcases promising talent on stage in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

If you’re in need of some Shakespeare, then you can get your fix in the distillery district this month. The George Brown School of Performing Arts is putting on a double feature of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It at The Young Centre for the Performing Arts.

This is strictly a review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When I first saw the posting, I naively assumed that it was some sort of mashup, selection of scenes, or drastically cut versions being performed together. This isn’t the case: if you go on a given night you’ll be seeing one or the other, and in my case it was Midsummer. Continue reading Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (George Brown Theatre)