Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review: Homewrecker (Coyote Collective/Leroy Street Theatre/Scapegoat Collective)

Photo of Blue Bigwood-Mallin and Susannah Mackay in HomewreckerHomewrecker, a new play by Danny Pagett, is now playing at Toronto’s Assembly Theatre

If a play’s purpose is to offer a take on a specific subject, I’m expecting a nuanced perspective to run through its core, and that is certainly the case with Homewrecker.

Currently running at The Assembly Theatre, the story centres on a cheating, self-loathing divorcee named Craig (Blue Bigwood-Mallin) eager to figure out where he went wrong, and Veronica (Susannah Mackay), the woman he cheated with, whose steely resolve he needs to put himself back together. Craig’s basement apartment—uncanny in its execution by set designer Chris Bretecher—sets a believable backdrop for the play’s extravagant central conceit: Craig’s $5000 offer to Veronica for a night’s company to prove to himself that he’s able to avoid seducing her again and is thus not the deviant sexual animal he thinks he is.

Continue reading Review: Homewrecker (Coyote Collective/Leroy Street Theatre/Scapegoat Collective)

Review: No Foreigners (fu-GEN/Hong Kong Exile)

No Foreigners Production Photo
A multimedia production of David Yee’s new play takes the stage at Toronto’s Theatre Centre

As I watched No Foreigners, a co-production between fu-GEN Theatre Company and Hong Kong Exile produced in association with Theatre Conspiracy and presented at The Theatre Centre, I was reminded of an essay by Wayson Choy, “I’m a Banana and Proud of It,” wherein he describes his long road to accepting “the paradox of being both Chinese and not Chinese.”

This is the same paradox the play explores, using the setting of Chinese shopping malls as “racialized spaces of cultural creation and clash.” Text writer David Yee asks us: what does it mean to be Chinese? What is it like to feel like a foreigner in your own country, or to your own background? Do you belong everywhere, or nowhere? The questions are universal; the way the play deals with them is unique, fascinating, and thoroughly amusing.

Continue reading Review: No Foreigners (fu-GEN/Hong Kong Exile)

Review: Map By Years (Peggy Baker Dance Projects)

Photo of Jessica Runge in Her HeartPeggy Baker presents a unique evening of dance at Toronto’s Theatre Centre

Peggy Baker has been one the major figures in Canadian modern dance for many years, but I had never see her work. So I was excited by the opportunity to see Peggy Baker Dance Projects’ Map By Years, currently being performed at The Theatre Centre. This evening of solo performances features four very different works that all showcase strong dancers and that share a common thread of longing and mysticism. Continue reading Review: Map By Years (Peggy Baker Dance Projects)

Review: Cottagers and Indians (Tarragon Theatre)

Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre presents Drew Hayden Taylor’s play; an uplifting piece of Canadiana

Drew Hayden Taylor’s Cottagers and Indians, currently playing at the Tarragon Theatre, is a light and warm take on the conflict between native culture and bourgeois property owners. From the first moment we see Arthur Copper in his canoe and Maureen Poole on her cottage dock, we know exactly who each of them is and the audience can settle in for an uplifting piece of current Canadiana. Continue reading Review: Cottagers and Indians (Tarragon Theatre)

Review: Come From Away (Mirvish)

Photo of the cast of Come From Away in Toronto by Matthew MurphyMirvish opens a new Canadian production of the hit musical Come From Away in Toronto

It’s been about a year since the original production of Come From Away—a new musical by Canadian husband-and-wife writing team Irene Sankoff and David Hein—finished its limited, sold-out run in Toronto and transferred to Broadway.

In the intervening year, this little Canadian musical-that-could has taken the Great White Way by storm. It opened to a warm critical reception and earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Musical. To this day, it still regularly plays to sold out houses in New York and is one of only a handful of Broadway shows that consistently grosses over one million dollars in ticket sales each week. Continue reading Review: Come From Away (Mirvish)

Review: Jerusalem (Outside the March/Company Theatre/Starvox Entertainment)

Jerusalem is a “a fable for a gentrified generation” on the Toronto stage

The Canadian premiere of Jerusalem, written by English writer Jez Butterworth, took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, both on stage and off, to produce. This is apparent from two things. The first is (are) the numerous companies that collaborated to make the Toronto production happen, namely Outside the March, The Company Theatre, and Starvox Entertainment. The second is the immaculately-crafted, unrelenting, coo-coo-bananas-craziness in every moment of this performance.

The play takes place throughout the course of nine hours in the woods of Wiltshire, a county in the south-west of England. In these woods lives Johnny “Rooster” Byron, ex-daredevil and local troublemaker, who is about to be evicted from his caravan so that condos can be built on the land.

Continue reading Review: Jerusalem (Outside the March/Company Theatre/Starvox Entertainment)

Review: King Charles III (Studio 180/Mirvish)

Photo of Jeff Meadows, Shannon Taylor, David Schurmann, and Rosemary Dunsmore from King Charles III provided by the companyStudio 180 and Mirvish presents King Charles III, on stage in Toronto until March 4 2018

Mirvish presents the Studio 180 production of King Charles III to the newly rebranded CAA Theatre (formerly the Panasonic Theatre). This production saw sold out crowds on Broadway and London’s West End, and will likely cause waves in Toronto. The story takes a look at what could be for our beloved British royals in this future history play written by Mike Bartlett and directed by Joel Greenberg.

The Queen is dead and Charles, the “King in Waiting”, ascends the throne. While attempting to assert the power of the crown, he defies an age-old tradition, sending the country into turmoil.

Continue reading Review: King Charles III (Studio 180/Mirvish)

2018 PROGRESS REVIEW: Contemporaneity 2.0 (Anandam Dance Theatre)

Two dance programs come to Toronto’s Theatre Centre

Contemporaneity 2.0, playing at the Theatre Centre as part of the Progress Festival, has two different Programs, A and B, both produced by Anandam Dance Theatre. On opening night we saw Program A, Gandhari. Unfortunately, the most interesting part of the event for me was the land acknowledgement by Gein Wong. Continue reading 2018 PROGRESS REVIEW: Contemporaneity 2.0 (Anandam Dance Theatre)