All posts by Vance Brews

In Gods We Trust (The Lactors’ Studio) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Melanie Herben, Brent Vickar, Kerri Salata and Peter HamiwkaI’m a bit of a nut about Greek mythology and, like many people who have spent more than a few minutes on the internet, I’ve been unable to escape the gong show that is the US Presidential Election. In Gods We Trust from The Lactors’ Studio combines those two things into a piece of satire that I figured would be right up my alley and a solid addition to 2016’s Toronto Fringe Festival.

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Plays in Cafes (Shadowpath) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Vesna Radenkovic and Mandy Roveda

Plays in Cafes has returned to this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, this time with three new short pieces all set within the confines of Free Times Cafe on College.

The concept is simple: three plays that take place between two people while surrounded by an audience partaking in Free Times’ fare. This year Alex Karolyi returns with one piece, while Chris Widden and Sheila Toller bring new voices to the program. It appears that this year Shadowpath decided to step away from the domestic themes of 2015 and instead chose a more surrealist approach.

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Game 7 (MWB Productions) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Mark Kalzer, Raymond Ho and Magdalena BB

Game 7 by MWB Productions at 2016’s Toronto Fringe Festival is a play about miserable people. It’s also about fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which is pretty much the same thing (badump bump).

Written and performed by Mark Kalzer, Raymond Ho and Magdalena BB it chronicles the events that transpire between three friends as they watch the legendary collapse of the Leafs in their 2013 Playoff run. The play explores many themes like missed opportunities, failed dreams and abandonment while also exploring the ecstasy and agony of being a sports fan.

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King of the Castle (House of Rebels Theatre) 2016 Toronto Fringe Review

KOTCKing of the Castle is a subversive piece of psychological theatre by House of Rebels Theatre that explores childhood trauma and abandonment in an emotionally draining, yet cathartic, hour at 2016’s Toronto Fringe Festival.

When you read King of the Castle’s synopsis, there’s a sense of what I would describe as whimsy attached to it; a young man finds one of his imaginary friends murdered and must reconnect with the other figments in his mind in order to solve the mystery. It’s a concept that made me imagine a brightly coloured set contrasted with a hard boiled detective story. King of the Castle is nothing like that.

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Review: The Fairy Queen (Toronto Masque Theatre)

highres_450415369 by Michael Ruscigno (640x457)

Toronto Masque Theatre’s Fairy Queen is a New Experience

17th century theatre has always been a passion of mine, but I must admit the courtly masque style slipped past my radar. Without knowing anything about what I was getting into I was unsure as to what to expect when attending Toronto Masque Theatre’s production of The Fairy Queen. What I experienced was a fun and creative blend of the past and modern experience. Continue reading Review: The Fairy Queen (Toronto Masque Theatre)

Review: Scarberia (Young People’s Theatre)

Scarberia, YPT

YPT’s Scarberia is One of the Best Shows of 2016

With Scarberia, Young People’s Theatre have produced a play that not only explores the desperation and confusion of growing up but also goes far deeper into issues that transcend the traditional view of youth oriented theatre.

So often we assume that when something is aimed at the under 18 crowd that it’s going to be simplistic or even worse patronising. Writer Evan Placey has avoided both of these pitfalls and created a powerful script that YPT took and ran with, creating one of the best things I’ve seen in 2016.

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Review: The Beaux Stratagem (George Brown Theatre)

George Brown Theatre students bring The Beaux Stratagem to life in Toronto

I personally get a thrill whenever I have the opportunity to see live Restoration Comedy. It was the subject of one of my term papers in University and I’ve always been fascinated by the cultural importance that the style had over the citizens of England during Charles II’s reign. Getting a chance to see a production of George Farquhar’s The Beaux Stratagem was a real treat for me and I was really excited to see what the students of George Brown would bring to the material.

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Review: The Bitch of the Baskervilles (Socratic Theatre Collective)

Bitch promo photoToronto’s Socratic Theatre Collective presents a gender-swapped take on Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is a character that gets a lot of interpretation, from the BBC’s Sherlock, to the CBS procedural Elementary to the films starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law (Just to name some adaptations from recent history), when a writer needs a hyper-intellectual detective with barely functioning social skills the resident of 22B Baker street is a go-to choice.

The Socratic Theatre Collective have followed suit with their latest production, putting their own spin on the classic detective by genderswapping almost every character from the Holmes canon and sending them to run amok in a metafictional examination of the classic stories.

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Review: The Winter’s Tale (Groundling Theatre Company)

233 - Tom McCamus and Lucy Peacock in the Groundling Theatre Production of The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare, at the Coal Mine Theatre. Director Graham Abbey, Set and Lighting Designer Steve Lucas, Costume Co-designers Michael Gianfrancesco and Jenna McCutchen, Photo: Michael CooperToronto’s Groundling Theatre Company presents Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale

For many people, the famous stage direction “Exit, pursued by a bear” is the only thing they know about Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. This is understandable as the tonal dissonance between the play’s first three acts and the last two makes it a difficult play to explore when we’re first learning about Shakespeare in school, but it’s unfortunate because it’s also one of the more interesting of Shakespeare’s plays for that exact same reason.

It’s also a fantastic choice for Groundling Theatre‘s debut piece in their new home at the Coal Mine Theatre.

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