Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review: Judas Noir (Obsidian Theatre/BDB Productions)

Alexander Williams’ adaptation of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play The Last Days of Judas Iscariot is now playing in Toronto

I was not prepared for Obsidian Theatre’s presentation of Judas Noir. From the buzz, I expected a great piece of theatre, but I could not know, going in, the brutal and haunting intensity of it. Leighton Alexander Williams’ adaptation of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot with BDB Productions is a work that hit me with such force, I was left and awe-stuck and trembling. Continue reading Review: Judas Noir (Obsidian Theatre/BDB Productions)

Review: Ain’t Too Proud (Mirvish)

A pre-Broadway run of the new musical about The Temptations is playing in Toronto

The latest show to play Toronto before transferring to Broadway, Ain’t Too Proud at the Princess of Wales Theatre is the story of The Temptations, one of the first and best known “crossover” groups in American music. The appetite for jukebox musicals is apparently never going to diminish, and though the writing is workmanlike, Ain’t Too Proud as a musical does what The Temptations themselves did: make bright, easy to enjoy, reasonably talented music on schedule.

Continue reading Review: Ain’t Too Proud (Mirvish)

Review: The Wolves (The Howland Company/Crow’s Theatre)

Amaka Umeh in The Wolves photo by Dahlia KatzSarah DeLappe’s stunning debut play takes the stage … er … soccer pitch in Toronto

The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe, shortlisted for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, features a demographic who has a very hard time being taken seriously while facing ultra-serious pressures: teenage girls. This teen girl squad is a highly-competitive soccer team, vying for the eye of university scouts while navigating their complicated interpersonal relationships and their place in the world. DeLappe’s adept hand with this complex world makes it hard to believe this is her first play, and its critical reception is justified. This production, by The Howland Company and Crow’s Theatre, brims with vitality, humour, and heart; it’s one of the best shows I’ve seen in some time.

Continue reading Review: The Wolves (The Howland Company/Crow’s Theatre)

Review: Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Photo of Pearle Harbour in Tent at Theatre Passe MuraillePearle Harbour’s variety show meets self-help seminar is now on stage at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille

Are you ready to feel safe? To feel loved? To feel happy? Come on up to Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua at Theatre Passe Muraille and feel great, for 80 minutes. And smile every time you think about it afterwards.

The show is a combination of the best an old-time revival meeting, a self-help seminar, and a variety show. You might ask ‘does Pearle Harbour really make every single person in the audience feel as if she loves you?’ You betcha! Except when, every now and again, the ‘mask’ slips and you might wonder, just a tiny little bit, if she really does. Continue reading Review: Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Review: Ever So Slightly (RUBBERBANDance Group/DanceWorks)

Photo of RUBBERBANDance Group in Ever So Slightly

Montreal-based RUBBERBANDance Group opened the 2018-19 DanceWorks Mainstage series with Ever So Slightly, choreographed by Artistic Director Victor Quijada. The performance was billed as an “avant world premiere”. And Toronto is lucky to be the first to get a sneak peak at this new work. Though it was sometimes hard to watch, Ever So Slightly was a beautiful and inventive evening of dance. Continue reading Review: Ever So Slightly (RUBBERBANDance Group/DanceWorks)

Review: The Nether (Coal Mine Theatre Studio 180 Theatre)

Photo of David Storch A dark play about the impact of technology on human relationships is now on stage in Toronto

The Nether, playing at Coal Mine Theatre, is the first joint production between Coal Mine Theatre and Studio 180 Theatre. I hope it’s not the last. It’s an exceptional production, a study in contrasts. Given that Jennifer Haley is a playwright whose work “delves into ethics in virtual reality and the impact of technology on our human relationships, identity, and desire” it’s no surprise that the play leaves us asking ourselves some tough questions.

Before you decide to see The Nether, and maybe even before you read this review, you should definitely read the Audience Advisory. Continue reading Review: The Nether (Coal Mine Theatre Studio 180 Theatre)

Del Manantial del Corazón (Sa’as Tún Theatre Company)

Vignettes about Mayan womanhood take the stage in Toronto as part of the 2018 RUTAS Festival

Del Manantial del Corazón (From the Spring of the Heart), by Mexico’s Sa’as Tún Theatre Company, is a collection of vignettes about Mayan womanhood that transcends the theatrical into spiritual connection. On at Aki Studio for the 2018 RUTAS Festival, the play highlights women and Indigenous tradition by fostering deep reverence for birth, death, and the balms of ritual and community. Continue reading Del Manantial del Corazón (Sa’as Tún Theatre Company)

Review: Talking Treaties (Jumblies Theatre)

Photo of Kitsune Soleil by Liam CooA site-specific promenade performance at Toronto’s Fort York is an interactive history lesson

One of the performers in Talking Treaties Spectacle, “a mobile performance artfully sharing Indigenous knowledge and history” presented by Jumblies Theatre at Historic Fort York, reveals that he used to think that treaties were large, ornate gilded papers preserved in books, argued over by lawyers from both sides and fairly agreed on by everyone. This turns out to be anything but the truth: treaties have often been unequal, deceptive, neglected, and even misplaced.

Talking Treaties is a mobile, interactive history lesson based on three main agreements: the Dish With One Spoon Treaty, the Covenant Chain, and the “Toronto Purchase” with the Mississaugas of New Credit (the last only legally “settled” in 2010).

Continue reading Review: Talking Treaties (Jumblies Theatre)

Review: Noises Off (Scarborough Players)

photo of Noises Off castScarborough Village Theatre presents the farcical play Noises Off in east Toronto

The actors of Noises Off at the Scarborough Village Theatre put on a fantastic show about actors putting on a not-so-fantastic show called “Nothing On.” Mishaps, both onstage and off, multiply with each scene throughout the course of this farce.

This play about a play was well-loved by the audience, thanks largely to the witty story by Michael Frayn, the physical comedy by the earnest but confused characters, as well as a set that shows us the stage of the fictional play in the first and final acts, but pivots to show what happens behind-the-scenes in the second act allowing us to see the frenzied behaviour on the other side of the curtain.

Continue reading Review: Noises Off (Scarborough Players)

Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape (Obsidian Theatre Company/Soulpepper)

Photo of Motion in OraltorioObsidian Theatre’s “pitch perfect” musical play Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape takes the stage in Toronto

You ever see a show that hits all the right notes? Obsidian Theatre Company’s Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape playing at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts is just that: a pitch perfect performance.

Continue reading Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape (Obsidian Theatre Company/Soulpepper)