Toronto Theatre Reviews

Review: 11:11 (AVO Collective/RISER Project)

WhyNot Theatre’s RISER Project (#notafestival) gives a boost to four deserving productions a year, and every year’s class is strong. 2019 brings us Samson Brown with 11:11, his first solo effort, under the directional and dramaturgical eye of hometown genius d’bi young anitafrika. Brown, whose Gillette commercial dropped just a couple days before the show opened, is having a big moment as he tends his transgender body and spirit in both media. Continue reading Review: 11:11 (AVO Collective/RISER Project)

Review: 1991 (RISER Project/Guilty By Association)

The RISER Project presents Cole Lewis’ unconventionally-staged coming-of-age play in Toronto

1991 is an inventive, intimate performance. Show creator Cole Lewis tells us a tragically all-too-common story about girlhood while eschewing traditions in theatrical performance and use of technology onstage.

We follow the account of 12-year-old Nicole, whom we soon realize is a younger, memory-distorted version of the playwright and creator. She spends a summer with her ill-tempered father in Delaware, ostensibly to protect her from the murders plaguing Southern Ontario. Although not stated explicitly, the lingering threat of a killer does seem to allude to notorious Canadian criminals Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, as well as one of their many victims Leslie Mahaffy. While Nicole survives her journey, we feel every bump and bruise she endures along the way.

Continue reading Review: 1991 (RISER Project/Guilty By Association)

Review: Against Nature (Citadel + Compagnie)

An award-winning adaptation mixing dance and opera returns to Toronto

Presented by Citadel + Compagnie, the 2016 Dora nominated Against Nature returns to the Citadel. The opera and dance mix adapts French/Dutch author Joris-Karl Huysman’s 1884 novel À Rebours through the direction and choreography of James Kudelka.

After living a luxurious life in Paris, Jean des Esseinte, an aristocrat played by Alexander Dobson, flees to the countryside to live in solitude. In an attempt to escape society, he aims to create a perfect world, and surrounds himself with literature, art and artifacts. Through this isolation, his mental and physical health deteriorate, leaving him unable to escape memories and experiences from his past life.

Continue reading Review: Against Nature (Citadel + Compagnie)

Review: Light Years (Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre)

Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre showcases its young company members in Toronto

Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (CCDT) presents Light Years at the Harbourfront’s Fleck Dance Theatre, a mixed dance bill showing the technical prowess and maturity of its young company’s members. All under the age of 19, the technically strong and agile dancers perform five works – two world premieres, two CCDT premieres and one returning piece.

Continue reading Review: Light Years (Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre)

Review: August: Osage County (Soulpepper)

Photo of the August: Osage County Ensemble by Cylla von TiedemannSoulpepper presents the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts in Toronto

I had invited a friend to join me for the opening night of the new production of August: Osage County by Soulpepper on Friday night but when I mentioned it was a three and a half-hour family drama with two intermissions he decided to pass. His loss; he missed out on an absolutely riveting evening of theatre. Continue reading Review: August: Osage County (Soulpepper)

Review: Pandora (Fawn Chamber Creative)

Pandora blends opera and ballet to explore the tale of the classic myth, on stage in Toronto

Pandora, by librettist James Brock and composers Joseph Glaser, Kit Soden and David Storen was my first Fawn Chamber Creative show. I am astonished that I did not know about this company before, but I am glad I am in the know now. Their current production Pandora (musical direction, Adam Scime, stage direction, Amanda Smith) is an opera-ballet inspired by the Pandora myth. The opera unfolds in a vignette by each of the three composers, with all three libretti written by Brock. Continue reading Review: Pandora (Fawn Chamber Creative)

Review: Marienbad (Toronto Dance Theatre)

Internationally-acclaimed queer dance returns to the Toronto stage

Marienbad, produced by Toronto Dance Theatre, recounts the tender, turbulent relationship between two queer men through free-form movement and dance. It’s written and performed by TDT Artistic Director, Christopher House, and two-time Governor General’s Award- winner for English Drama, Jordan Tannahill. If you’re interested in artists who strive for emotional authenticity by breaking away from linear storytelling, this might be for you.

Continue reading Review: Marienbad (Toronto Dance Theatre)

Review: Prophecy Fog (Theatre Centre)

A woman holds her hand to her head.

Entrancing, Intimate and Challenging: Prophecy Fog Opens in Toronto

If you’re looking for a thoughtful and intimate performance this weekend, look no further than Jani Lauzon’s Prophecy Fog, on at the Theatre Centre (1115 Queen St W) until May 26. Produced by the Theatre Centre in collaboration with Paper Canoe Projects, in association with Nightswimming.

The history of Giant Rock is fascinating and sad. At the heart of Lauzon’s story is a question: “can a site still be sacred if it has been desecrated”? But at its narrative core, Prophecy Fog is the story of Lauzon’s journey to Giant Rock in the Mojave with her daughter. Continue reading Review: Prophecy Fog (Theatre Centre)

Review: Shanawdithit (Tapestry Opera/Opera on the Avalon)

Tapestry Opera presents the premiere of a landmark Canadian-Indigenous in Toronto

Musically and thematically Tapestry Opera and Opera on the Avalon’s world premiere Shanawdithit is a testament to the possibilities of new opera. While the story is historical, it explores the subject of colonization in a manner that is very much in contrast to opera’s history of romanticizing, exoticizing or orientalizing non-Western European cultures. Continue reading Review: Shanawdithit (Tapestry Opera/Opera on the Avalon)

Review: I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron (Canadian Stage)

Canadian Stage presents a tribute to Chinese poet Xu Lizhi to Toronto audiences

A beautiful ode to the late poet Xu Lizhi, I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron gives a voice to migrant workers, expressing the hidden lives and hardships of those working in grim factories in Shenzhen, China. Presented by Canadian Stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre Njo Kong Kie performs, produces, composes and directs the musical and theatrical mix.

Continue reading Review: I Swallowed a Moon Made of Iron (Canadian Stage)