2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival: Foreign Tongue (playinc.)

Foreign Tongue, playing at the Next Stage Theatre Festival, explores immigrant life through the eyes of a born-and-raised Canadian in an upbeat and frothy musical. A young urban professional experiences a stroke and slips into a coma only to awaken five weeks later speaking with an Eastern European accent leaving everyone to believe her an immigrant. Though the cast is highly talented, I felt that the story and songs fell unfortunately short.

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Review: 1979 (The 1979 Group)

Christopher Hunt as Pierre Trudeau and Philip Riccio as Joe ClarkTight, accessible politics in this engaging Toronto production

Michael Healey’s play, 1979, opened at the Berkeley Street Theatre on Thursday. As I wrote this, I realized that 1979 was 40 years ago. I know that, but I hadn’t really internalized it; to me it feels a lot more recent than that. I’m pretty sure that to a lot of the audience it feels like the olden days. Before the play started, I wondered how many of them would relate to the subject matter: Joe Clark’s short lived term as Prime Minister. Joe Who?

It doesn’t really matter. Political machinations are easy to recognize even if they’re 40 years old. It was great for the older crowd, a walk down a political memory lane. My friend Patricia has always been very involved in the community side of politics and I’ve always been a political observer. This is our kind of play. For younger people, it was terrific political satire. Continue reading Review: 1979 (The 1979 Group)

2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Cannibal (Scrap Paper Theatre)

In this new drama by Scrap Paper Theatre, Cannibal is a metaphor — barely. This is a visceral piece that captures the ugly side of fear, loss, and love with surgical precision, and the anesthesia we are given is fleeting. It performs at the Next Stage Theatre Festival, filling a modest studio setup with a staggering cocktail of emotions.

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2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Lucky (barlizo productions)

Photo of Katharine King, Christian Jadah by Tanja TizianaLucky by Montreal-based playwright Marie Barlizo, now playing in Toronto as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival, was inspired by the sensational and grizzly story of Jennifer Pan, a Vietnamese-Canadian woman in Markham who was convicted of hiring killers to murder her parents as a response to their abusive “tiger parenting.” Continue reading 2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Lucky (barlizo productions)

2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: A Bear Awake in Winter (Binocular Theatre)

A Bear Awake in Winter —playing at Toronto’s Factory Theatre as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival—is an absorbing, character-driven story about a high school music class. It’s a play on a mission: that of undoing the connection between discrimination and the need for constant vigilance in a world run by entitled men, and a sense of shame that it’s one’s own fault for having to always be on guard.

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2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Ga Ting 家庭 (Ga Ting Toronto Collective)

Photo of Loretta Yu, Richard Tse, and Stephen Tracey by Randy Bui In Vancouver-based playwright Minh Ly’s Ga Ting, now playing in Toronto as part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival, an immigrant Chinese-Canadian couple meets their deceased son Kevin’s caucasian boyfriend for the first time and, over the course of a dinner full of clashes and fiery accusations, they each try to come to terms with Kevin’s death by suicide. Continue reading 2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Ga Ting 家庭 (Ga Ting Toronto Collective)

2019 Next Stage Festival Review: Dinner with the Duchess (The Duchess Collective)

Fame. Power. Sexism. Dinner with the Duchess explores a lot of subject matter that usually doesn’t fly at the dinner table, but it’s delivery is so unflinching that you may not even blink during this 90-minute show. On as part of the 2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival, The Duchess Collective presents a thought-provoking and layered story about artistic passion, and its cost.

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Review: The Play That Goes Wrong (Mirvish)

Photo of Clifton Duncan, Harrison Unger, Mark Evans and Alex Mandell by Jeremy DanielAfter runs in London and on Broadway the hit comedic play opens in Toronto

The Play That Goes Wrong recently played successful runs in London’s West End and on Broadway and I admit, I’m a bit baffled by its success. Rarely do you see a non-musical play on Broadway that doesn’t cast a celebrity in a lead role. It’s also the kind of screwball, slapstick comedy that would typically play in smaller, Off-Broadway size theatres, but last night the show opened in Toronto’s large Ed Mirvish Theatre in front of a packed house, so there’s obviously an audience for it. Continue reading Review: The Play That Goes Wrong (Mirvish)

2019 Toronto Next Stage Festival Review: Strange and Unusual (Flat Earth Global)

Magician Nick Wallace certainly knows how to entertain and mystify a crowd and he does exactly that with his show Strange and Unusual, playing at the 2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival at the Factory Theatre. Having previously stumped the legendary magic duo Penn and Teller, Wallace brings his show of mysticism, magic, hypnosis, and fortune telling to a Toronto audience bringing with it, laughs, gasps, applause and a good dose of cringe.

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2019 Next Stage Festival Review: Lauren & Amanda Do It (Toasted Theatre Company)

Lauren & Amanda Do It, presented by Toasted Theatre Company at the Next Stage Theatre Festivalbills itself as a frank discussion about sex in a province where sex ed is currently in crisis. Pared down from its hour-long iteration into a 30-minute performance in the Factory Theatre Antechamber, it’s styled as an ever-changing talk show, with a rotating roster of guests.

 Hosts Lauren Cauchy and Amanda Logan, aided by sprightly, bright original music and participation from Alli Harris, determine each night’s topic by spinning the “Wheel of Fucking.” The wheel has topics ranging from “Fetishes and Fantasies” to “Masturbation,” the latter being our fortune for opening night. Even if the wheel spin is the same two nights in a row, we’re assured that there will be different material for returning customers. (Three nights in a row, perhaps not.)

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