Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review: Proof (Theatre UnBlocked)

Proof exceeds expectations, on stage at the Red Sandcastle in Toronto

It seems my thing recently is seeing Pulitzer Prize winning plays at the Red Sandcastle Theatre. I figure the Pulitzer means they play itself will likely be pretty good, and I always love the intimacy of that Queen East venue. So it was with high expectations that I took in Theatre UnBlocked’s production of David Auburn’s Proof.

It exceeded my expectations. Continue reading Review: Proof (Theatre UnBlocked)

Review: Illusions (SideMart Theatrical Grocery)

Illusions is a dark tragicomedy about love, on stage at Crow’s Theatre in Toronto

SideMart Theatrical Grocery presents the first English version of Illusions, written by Russian playwright Ivan Viripaev and translated by Casimir Liske. Playing in Leslieville’s Crow’s Theatre, it’s a romantic tragicomedy that will make you gasp, groan and giggle at this creatively narrated story about love and lies.

Continue reading Review: Illusions (SideMart Theatrical Grocery)

Review: Century Song (Nightwood Theatre)

Neema Bickersteth in Nightwood Theatre's Century SongCentury Song is a massive collaborative work, now gracing the Toronto stage

Nightwood Theatre‘s Century Song, a collaborative production with Volcano, Richard Jordan Productions UK, Moveable Beast Collective and Crow’s Theatre, is a one-woman multimedia piece that heavily features opera and projection design. With a distinctly non-narrative form, there is a huge amount of beautiful work to be found in its 50 minute runtime.

Continue reading Review: Century Song (Nightwood Theatre)

Review: Medea (Opera Atelier)

Medea is Toronto’s Opera Atelier at its finest

As the overture of Opera Atelier‘s 2017 production of Medea began, the image of the Golden Fleece emblazoned on a black backdrop belied the carnage about to descend. The orchestra’s performance of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s mood-setter for this classic Greek tale did not. From the first note, the overture was writhing with insatiable blood lust and ruthless precision. Continue reading Review: Medea (Opera Atelier)

Review: Louis Riel (Canadian Opera Company)

0241 – (l-r, foreground) Russell Braun as Louis Riel, Michael Colvin as Thomas Scott and Charles Sy as Ambroise Lépine in a scene from the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Louis Riel, 2017. Conductor Johannes Debus, director Peter Hinton, set designer Michael Gianfrancesco, costume designer Gillian Gallow, lighting designer Bonnie Beecher, and choreographer Santee Smith. Photo: Michael CooperEven mid-performance, reviews of Louis Riel at the Canadian Opera Company were being expressed all around me. The individual sitting behind me chewed gum loudly and sighed repeatedly, exasperatedly, during all of the second and third acts. Beside me, a young woman sat rapt and motionless, her face slack with pleasure. It’s a rare opera that inspires such extreme reactions, but even the cheerful bar manager at the first-floor bar commented that she had heard so many opinions and none of them were tepid. “Everyone has something to say about this one,” she said. “It’s quite different.” And so it is.

Continue reading Review: Louis Riel (Canadian Opera Company)

Review: Munschtime! (Young People’s Theatre)

Young People’s Theatre’s play brings the stories of Robert Munsch to the Toronto stage

With a pair of seven-year-olds and a stalwart spirit I ventured to Young People’s Theatre on a sunny Saturday for their new show Munschtime! Adapted from four classic Robert Munsch tales by longtime YPT director Allen MacInnes and collaborator Steven Colella. The stories are framed by a granddaughter who keeps asking for just one more story and her grandparents who, of course, indulge her. I wasn’t ready for another after the show on Saturday, but I liked the ones I got just fine.

Continue reading Review: Munschtime! (Young People’s 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.

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

Sound of the Beast (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Picture of performer Donna-Michelle St. BernardSound of the Beast is a challenging, powerful work now on stage in Toronto

Theatre Passe Muraille‘s mixed-media production Sound of the Beast takes us on an intense, challenging journey that moves from Tunisia to Toronto and back. Solo performer Donna-Michelle St. Bernard uses a well-crafted mixture of rap, song, spoken word, and story to share her experiences at the intersection of race and institutional power.

This unusual show isn’t for the politically faint of heart; St. Bernard is forceful and direct in her condemnation of racist cops, racist power structures, and our racist society. But her message is so strong, and the issues she discusses are so important, that I found the show to be very rewarding.

Continue reading Sound of the Beast (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Review: Banana Boys (Factory Theatre)

The hit show Banana Boys returns to the Factory Theatre stage in Toronto

Banana Boys is currently making its triumphant return to the Factory Theatre stage. Originally developed by the fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company in 2002, the show is now one of the most culturally relevant modern plays currently in production.

The show itself is a fast paced, witty, and at times raunchy look at what it means to be a “banana” — a cultural term indicating someone who is ‘yellow on the outside and white on the inside’. A displaced Asian with roots in the East but born and raised in the West. From the perspective of five young Chinese-Canadian men, they explore their struggles with career, education, love, friendship, identity, and the ever present pressure from mom and dad.

Continue reading Review: Banana Boys (Factory Theatre)

Review: Penelopiad (George Brown Theatre)

The Penelopiad tells the story of The Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective, on stage in Toronto

We think we know the story of Odysseus, whose journey home following the battle of Troy took him ten long years, but we do not. George Brown Theatre’s production of Margaret Atwood’s play The Penelopiad–an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus’s faithful wife–embraced the feminism and lyricism of this retelling of a truly timeless story. Continue reading Review: Penelopiad (George Brown Theatre)

Review: Prince Hamlet (Why Not Theatre/Soulpepper)

A Toronto adaptation of Hamlet features American Sign Language and a female lead

For its tenth anniversary, Why Not Theatre and director Ravi Jain re-visit their first-ever production: Prince Hamlet, Jain’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. For this new production the director set about—as described in the press materials—to “illuminate the contemporary relevance of the 400-year-old play and ask the question ‘who gets to tell this story?’”

It’s an ambitious challenge and while the result is by-and-large a solid production of Hamlet, I don’t think it quite hit the mark it set for itself. Continue reading Review: Prince Hamlet (Why Not Theatre/Soulpepper)