Dance Matters presents a mixed program of contemporary dance in Toronto
Series 3 – Into the Fire presented by Dance Matters at the Pia Bouman School brings together a mixed programme of highly physical and mostly contemporary dance works. The final series of the season features a mix of eerie yet quirky creatures, a sensual yet combative duet and a fiery flamenco collaboration between a dancer, vocalist, and musicians.
Fadeout, created and performed by Anne-Flore de Rochambeau of Montreal opens the show. A bar of light in the centre of the stage only highlights the lower half of the dancer’s body, anything above the bar disappears in the pitch black space. The dancer-turned-creature, fidgets with her hands against her legs, noticeably uncomfortable while teasing to dip below the bar of light. The soundscape blends the sounds of birds chirping with different echos and rattles bringing you into this other world.
Continue reading Review: Series 3 – Into the Fire (Dance Matters)
The Canadian Opera Company’s current elegantly simple production of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème is aural perfection. Regardless of what certain pompous composers and music historians have had to say about Puccini’s composition style, there is a reason why he has been an audience favourite for almost one hundred and fifty years. In my view Puccini is what opera is all about. Towering, raw emotion in response to life and death situations and breathtaking musical beauty. Continue reading Review: La Bohème (Canadian Opera Company)
Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers, written and performed by Makambe K. Simamba, is the story of Trayvon Martin’s first hours in the afterlife, and it is utterly gripping and rendered with great tenderness and bravery. It’s also surprising, which was unexpected with such a well-publicized story. Simamba had her work cut out for her trying to make theatre that didn’t feel like a simple rehearsal of the brutal facts. But Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers is so, so much more.
Continue reading Review: Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers (b current)
Alumnae Theatre stages a play by television writer Michael Jacobs in Toronto
If you want to see some paintings this weekend and don’t want to go to just any old gallery, check out Alumnae Theatre’s production of Impressionism by Michael Jacobs. On until April 27 in Alumnae’s main space.
Impressionism is a play by writer Michael Jacobs, whom you’re probably more familiar with as the creator of Boy Meets World as well as several other television shows. In Impressionism Jacobs’ television writing shines through in the show’s humour, with some truly funny banter and zingers. Continue reading Review: Impressionism (Alumnae Theatre)
Canadian Stage presents a wordless, slapstick comedy show from France in Toronto
What, you might be wondering, might a wordless, slapstick, burlesque, Francophone show – such as Bigre – be like? I went to Canadian Stage to discover, and found the answer to be: a little lewd, a little rude, and ultimately pleasing, if you come ready to laugh.
Continue reading Review: Bigre (Canadian Stage/Théâtre Français Toronto
Soulpepper presents a new production of Michael Frayn’s Tony-winning play in Toronto
“Math is sense. That’s what sense is.” So says Kawa Ada as Werner Heisenberg, a somewhat unwanted visitor to the home of his former mentor Niels Bohr (Diego Matamoros) and his wife Margrethe (Kyra Harper), in Soulpepper’s production of Michael Frayn’s Tony-winning Copenhagen. Frayn’s sophisticated, devastating play imagines the basis of a secretive meeting between Heisenberg and Bohr in German-occupied Denmark in 1941. Heisenberg, one of Bohr’s protégés, has a question to ask the older, more cautious physicist, which may prove a turning point to the war. The half-Jewish Bohr is apprehensive as to which of Heisenberg’s dealings with the Nazis are for show, and which carry the potential for true, civilization-ending harm.
Existing in a suspended purgatory, long after the deaths of all three, they dissect in free-wheeling debate what may have happened, writing endless drafts akin to Bohr’s constantly-updating papers. It’s a kind of physicist’s No Exit, where they are most perfectly able to torture each other about the morality – or lack thereof – of using nuclear power to form weapons, an issue that has regrettably become timely once again.
Continue reading Review: Copenhagen (Soulpepper)
Amy Lee Lavoie’s new play in Toronto feels like a #MeToo era response to Mamet’s Oleanna
It’s been almost thirty years since David Mamet unleashed Oleanna on the theatre world. Amidst the burgeoning #MeToo movement, I’ve recently wondered what a female playwright might do with a similar set-up. And here, presented by Leroy Street Theatre, is Amy Lee Lavoie’s C’mon, Angie! right on cue!
In the early ’90s, Mamet warned against the potential dangers of political correctness gone awry, though he came uncomfortably close to vilifying his female character. Lavoie shows considerably more emotional and intellectual restraint. In what feels like a companion piece to Oleanna, she manages to flip the script without showing contempt for either character. Taking that play’s he said/she said scenario out of academia and placing it in a cramped bedroom after a sexual encounter, the story posits that political correctness is no more insidious than the white male entitlement it challenges. Continue reading Review: C’mon, Angie! (Leroy Street Theatre)
Dreamwalker Dance Company’s current presentation All of our Dreaming, dramaturged by Sarah Chase opens with an intimate performance in the antechamber of the theatre of Grace Theatre Centre. The audience sat in a semi-circle on the floor, cushions, and camp stools enclosing company founder and artistic director Andrea Nann as she delivered In a Landscape, a solo choreographed by Peggy Baker that comes across as highly personal. This modern dance piece is accompanied by a rippling piano piece of the same name by John Cage. The walls and ceilings are draped with back-lit sheets, upon which were projected stencils of flowers and patterns (designed by Elysha Poirier), heightening the cocoon-like feel of the space. The experience, characterized by impossibly supple and graceful gestures by Nann, set the tone for the performances that followed on themes of nature, transformation and spiritual discovery. Continue reading Review: All of our Dreaming (Dreamwalker Dance Company)
Canadian premiere of punk rock memory play brings noise to Toronto
Four Chords and a Gun is a performance that we hear before we see. Fitting, considering it takes us behind the scenes of the iconic punk rock band the Ramones. After a rousing drum solo and some brief narration by sometime band member Marky Ramone (played by James Smith), we get to business. At least as much as a group of angry, self-medicating punks from Queens can.
The play is penned by comedian and actor John Ross Bowie, best known from roles on TV shows The Big Bang Theory and Speechless. This may cause trepidation for non-lovers of sitcoms, but untethered of television’s formulaic structure, Bowie proves himself a capable storyteller. He weaves a passionate, sharp, and informative account of the band, focusing on their trials and tribulations around recording the 1980 album End of the Century with flamboyant gun-toting producer Phil Spector.
Continue reading Review: Four Chords and a Gun (Starvox Entertainment)
Mirvish presents the return the Carole King bio-musical starring Toronto’s Chilina Kennedy
Carole King is one of the most prolific American pop songwriters of the last half-century. Even if you’re not familiar with the material she recorded herself you undoubtedly know songs she has written for other artists: “The Locomotion,” “One Fine Day,” “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” to name a few.
It’s no surprise her expansive body of work would be fertile ground for a jukebox musical. Mirvish has brought the touring production of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical back to Toronto for a return engagement at the Princess of Wales Theatre. Continue reading Review: Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (Mirvish)