All posts by Tavish McGregor

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Review: Girl in the Goldfish Bowl (UC Follies)

UC Follies brings forth an interesting attitude toward life and toward character at Toronto’s Glen Morris Studio Theatre

It’s pretty hard to screw up a play like Morris Panych‘s Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, which wrapped up a short run with UC Follies last week.

The GG’d script of Panych is one of those rare absurdist comedies that shares an aesthetic kinship with films like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – especially in its ability to render the endless defeat of every day life with humour, and with that tireless, subtle arrogance that keeps us all moving forward. Continue reading Review: Girl in the Goldfish Bowl (UC Follies)

Back to work at the Factory

Behind-the-Toronto-scene peek at Factory Theatre’s new post-drama dramatic direction

Early next year, Toronto’s Factory Theatre will launch its first season following a year of turmoil that rippled out across Toronto’s theatre community. In case you missed any of the drama that engulfed Factory this year, here’s a brief recap of some recent episodes:

Last June, Factory’s board of directors dismissed artistic director and founder Ken Gass over a renovation dispute; prominent playwrights withdrew their performances from its upcoming season in protest and called for a boycott of the theatre; Ken Gass called his relationship with Factory Theatre history; and prominent Toronto theatre artists Nina Lee Aquino and Nigel Shawn Williams decided to rise to the challenge of keeping the Factory humming as interim co-artistic directors. Continue reading Back to work at the Factory

Review: Concord Floral (Suburban Beast)

Actor, stage and projections fuse perfectly in Concord Floral playing at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille

High school was a horror show for just about everyone. Suburban Beast’s Concord Floral, a masterfully staged ninety-minute rehash of the worst years of our lives, offers a chance to relive the nightmare in style. (Bonus: it’s set in Vaughan.)

The gist: a group of suburban high school students come to grips with the murder of Christina, a school outsider. The murder takes place before the play begins, during a party at Concord Floral – a massive, abandoned greenhouse north of Toronto. The play’s namesake hangs ominously over every conversation. Continue reading Review: Concord Floral (Suburban Beast)

Review: Dinner with Goebbels (Act2studio)

Dinner with Goebbels brings the bad boys of propaganda together for a lively meal at Toronto’s Red Sandcastle Theatre

With his surprisingly human piece of political theatre, Dinner with Goebbels, playwright Mark Leith invites you to pull up a chair at what would surely be the Thanksgiving dinner from hell. Edward Bernays (the father of propaganda), Joseph Goebbels, and Karl Rove gather together for a glass of wine and a chat on what each of them has done to ruin humankind.

And like any dinner gone awry, what begins as a collegial back-patting session descends into mutual revulsion and a back-and-forth over which of them is the ugliest monster of man.

Staged in the tiny Red Sandcastle Theatre on Queen East (Bernays would call it “cozy”), the play makes the most of its venue with simple, subtle, effective direction and a wonderfully balanced cast. Continue reading Review: Dinner with Goebbels (Act2studio)

Review: Saucisse – A Foo Musical (Foo Productions)

Saucisse a Foo Musical Photo credit Neil Muscott Helen Donnelly as Foo

Get lost in the magic of Helen Donnelly’s Saucisse – A Foo Musical at Toronto’s Pia Bouman Scotiabank Theatre

The bare bones:

With humour and humility, seventy-five minutes and a pig puppet, Helen Donnelly one-ups just about any other comedy staged in Toronto this year.

Saucisse, playing at the Pia Bouman Scotiabank Theatre, explores friendship, fate and the pursuit of happiness; it manages, even, to lampoon the perversions of authority to which human beings are so disastrously prone. All this while delivering expertly timed comedy, merciless caricature, six professionally orchestrated musical numbers and a botany lesson.

Oh, and it’s not even written in English; it’s written in some kind of clown gobbledy-gook. Continue reading Review: Saucisse – A Foo Musical (Foo Productions)

Review: Beyond Bollywood – Dear Liar (Why Not Theatre)

Naseeruddin Shah in Why Not Theatre's Beyond Bollywood Dear Liar playing at the Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre

Catch one of Bollywood’s great actors in Toronto this weekend in Jerome Kilty’s Dear Liar

This weekend, Why Not Theatre brings Naseeruddin Shah and his wife, Ratna Pathak Shah – royalty of South Asian cinema – to town for a christening of Toronto’s newest theatre venue, the Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre.

The pair resurrect George Bernard Shaw and Stella Patrick Campbell in Dear Liar, a play chronicling their infamous, decades-long love affair. (It was also a well-documented affair: Dear Liar is based almost entirely on written correspondence between the married Shaw and his married mistress.) While the play has always been prey to mixed reactions, Why Not Theatre gives Dear Liar one of its best incarnations in recent memory. Continue reading Review: Beyond Bollywood – Dear Liar (Why Not Theatre)

FRANCE or, The Niqab (Old Pirate) 2012 SummerWorks Review

In case you’ve been living under a rock: there’s a play being staged at SummerWorks called FRANCE or, The Niqab, which tells the tale of two headstrong women caught up in a legal struggle concerning this controversial religious clothing. In coming to terms with their differences – and their many similarities – these two go head to head on more than just hemlines, providing their audience with comedy and conversation-starters in equal measure. Continue reading FRANCE or, The Niqab (Old Pirate) 2012 SummerWorks Review

The Foreign Exchange (New Harlem Productions and SummerWorks) 2012 SummerWorks Review

The Foreign Exchange – a one-off event at the SummerWorks Performance Bar – isn’t really theatre but a panel discussion more akin to the Tent Talks at this year’s Fringe Festival. But The Foreign Exchange departed from these in several important ways, and offered one of the most challenging, empowering experiences at this year’s SummerWorks festival. Continue reading The Foreign Exchange (New Harlem Productions and SummerWorks) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Marine Life (Theatre Crisis) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Marine Life, a smart tragicomic psychodrama staged by Theatre Crisis for SummerWorks, bills itself as an “intimate fish-tale of apocalyptic proportions,” and that’s pretty accurate. Let’s break this down.

Intimacy: Environmental activist Sylvia finds herself in an awkward triangle of affections with her new love-interest-slash-defense-attorney, Rupert, and possessive, suicidal brother, John (he prefers Juan).

Fish-tale: Things get complicated. Continue reading Marine Life (Theatre Crisis) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Aneemah’s Spot (MotionLive with Cric Crac Collective) 2012 SummerWorks Review

A play about gun violence in Toronto is now more than timely. But Aneemah’s Spot, produced by MotionLive and Cric Crac Collective for this year’s SummerWorks festival, elevates the discussion of this hot button issue beyond mere polemics. Through the eyes of two vivid characters, it looks at the complicated ways that art and love stay afloat in the wake of tragedy.

Continue reading Aneemah’s Spot (MotionLive with Cric Crac Collective) 2012 SummerWorks Review