All posts by Winston Soon

Review: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Soulpepper)

Tom Stoppard’s classic as theatre in the round at Toronto’s Young Centre for the Performing Arts

I am not sure if you will ever see a truly bad show at Soulpepper, it is always a favourite to review because of its budget, ideal space at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts and its high calibre of talent. I rushed into Wednesday night’s production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead with such expectations and was thrilled to see the show was set in the round. Dana Osborne’s bare bones, in-the-round staging and Kevin Lamotte’s simple and effective lighting were a perfect complement to both the show’s existential nature as well as its Shakespearian scenes that we know were written for the groundlings in the pit. Continue reading Review: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Soulpepper)

Review: Endgame (Soulpepper)

Soulpepper’s Endgame is a testament to Toronto’s theatre community “where being excellent is simply the norm”

The ending is in the beginning.” Or so the character of Hamm so famously said in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame. Endgame is the second to last show of Soulpepper’s 15th anniversary season and speaking the words of Hamm is Joseph Ziegler. The last time this show was staged it won the Dora Award for best show, way back in 1999.

This version is more of a revision than a remount by its original director Daniel Brooks, and it is rounded out by Eric Peterson as Nag, Maria Vacratsis as Nell, and Diego Matamoros as Clov – the lone survivor from the original cast. Continue reading Review: Endgame (Soulpepper)

Review: No Great Mischief (Tarragon Theatre)

Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre transports audiences to the shores of the Atlantic in this Alistair Macleod adaptation.

I was really looking forward to seeing No Great Mischief, David Young’s adaptation of the best selling Alistair Macleod novel of the same name.

I am from the Maritimes and a great lover of Canadian literature, but somehow this novel never quite made it onto my reading list. Its remount serves as Tarragon Theatre’s season opener and the lights went down with a buzz in the air. Continue reading Review: No Great Mischief (Tarragon Theatre)

HUFF (Dependant Theatre Projects) 2012 SummerWorks Review

I thought I had probably seen my favourite SummerWorks 2012 when I walked into The Theatre Centre to see HUFF. I was wrong. HUFF is a tour de force performance and creation of Cliff Cardinal who uses every inch of the stage to create a story both hilarious and horrible – the sweet and sad story of three brothers growing up on a northern Ontario First Nations reserve.

It is directed expertly by Karin Randoja and uses a wonderful set created by Elizabeth Kantor. Every element is used here – the stage in it’s entirety – equipped with a massive plastic bag backdrop, a chair, a milk crate, a paper bag and beer bottles. Continue reading HUFF (Dependant Theatre Projects) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Extinction Song (Voodoo Theatre) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Extinction Song is a spell binding one-man show written and directed by Ron Jenkins and performed by Ron Pederson. These two Rons are an award winning force – the play has won Edmonton’s Sterling Award and it will likely have a good life beyond this year’s SummerWorks festival.

Performed in Theatre Passe Muraille’s Mainspace, it is beautifully written, tightly directed, and performed with astonishing energy and articulation.

Continue reading Extinction Song (Voodoo Theatre) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Your Side, My Side, And the Truth (A Compass/Trying Science Co-production) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Your Side, My Side and the Truth, presented at SummerWorks, is interesting piece of ensemble work where people in their prolonged 20’s try to figure out their lives, loves and losses. The play uses narration to move through the intertwining stories of five youngish girls and guys who are just trying to figure out who they are.

It might sound like the stuff of overplayed quarter life crisis, but it really isn’t. This play really grabbed me and held me for the full seventy five minutes at The Scotiabank Studio theatre.

Continue reading Your Side, My Side, And the Truth (A Compass/Trying Science Co-production) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Willow Bunch (Willow Bunch Productions) 2012 SummerWorks Review

A mystery set in the late eighteen hundreds, Willow Bunch is a riveting tale that takes place in the Canadian prairies. Written and directed by Rona Waddington, it is about a young British schoolteacher named Clara (Tal Gottfried) who takes a position at the local schoolhouse and takes up residence on an eriely quite edge of town.

She has come to town looking for information on her family and past and she soon crosses paths with Rylatt (Jonathon Purdon), who serves as a sort of sheriff and caretaker for the pioneer village. Clara is an unmarried and pregnant young woman and this makes all involved uneasy. Continue reading Willow Bunch (Willow Bunch Productions) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Prisoner of Tehran: A true story (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Be captivated by the Prisoner of Tehran at Toronto’s TPM

It felt like quite a battle getting into see Prisoner of Tehran at Theatre Passe Muraille. The media were invited to a day other than the opening and I couldn’t make it. Then I went at 7:45, expecting to see the show at 8:00. It started at 7:30. Third time being a charm, I felt like I had worked hard to see this show! This was the reason I squealed with glee when I saw that Theatre Passe Muraille had added the piece to their line-up.

I am a huge fan of CBC’s Canada Reads program and that is how I came across the astounding novel which is a firsthand account written by Marina Nemat (defended for Canada Reads by Arlene Dickson). When I read it in February, I found myself running to the book every chance I could get. So I was bound and determined to see this show.

Continue reading Prisoner of Tehran: A true story (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Review: Clybourne Park (Canadian Stage/Studio 180)

 Pulitzer winning Clybourne Park impresses in Toronto

I couldn’t remember much about A Raisin in the Sun when I walked into Clybourne Park; a joint production for Canadian Stage and Studio 180 staged at the Berkeley Street Theatre Downstairs. All I knew was that this show had something to do with it. I am especially glad I didn’t look at the program either. And with all that said, if you like surprises then I ask you to stop reading this review and go get yourself some tickets. This was one of the best and most enjoyable shows I have seen in a long while. Honestly, stop reading and order your tickets. This review will still be here when you come home talking about the show. Which I can almost guarantee you will be.

For those of you not down with surprises – or who have already seen this show – read on. I say this because I loved not knowing anything about the play’s structure. That said, even if you read this whole entry, I still must urge that you go and experience it for yourself. Continue reading Review: Clybourne Park (Canadian Stage/Studio 180)