Review: The Spectator’s Odyssey – o dell’Inferno (TO Live and DopoLavoro Teatrale)

Photo of a woman (Joyce Powell) standing in front of a painting of a clown painting children's faces. The whole photo is washed with pink light. It is from the show Red Journey

Toronto’s return to live in-person theatre is an opportune time for interactive and immersive theatre.  The Spectator’s Odyssey – o dell’Inferno brings the audience backstage into the deep confines of the St Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts and the dark recesses of the historic St Lawrence Market after hours.

The multidisciplinary exploration takes place through two unique experiences, ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’. These combine dance, theatre, music, virtual reality, and more.

In the ‘Red’ journey, the audience becomes Dante descending into the Inferno. We go through the various circles of hell in the darkened halls of the St. Lawrence Market.

In the ‘Blue’ journey, we become Ulysses exploring Homer’s The Odyssey.  We embark on an epic journey across the great unknown in the underbelly of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

Continue reading Review: The Spectator’s Odyssey – o dell’Inferno (TO Live and DopoLavoro Teatrale)

Review: My Own Private Shakespeare (Modernclassic Theatre Company)

Justin Hay on a darkened stage next to a throne

Modernclassic Theatre Company’s production of Justin Hay’s My Own Private Shakespeare is playing at the Assembly Theatre. The small space, with seats removed to allow social distancing, adds a layer of intimacy to the evening.

My Own Private Shakespeare is a one-person play performed and written by Hay, who is a Shakespearean actor. Although it’s not stated anywhere, the play feels autobiographical. It’s about a Shakespearean actor whose life is imploding. He sees parallels between the things happening in his life and some of Shakespeare’s texts and weaves them into his story. It’s wonderfully effective.  Continue reading Review: My Own Private Shakespeare (Modernclassic Theatre Company)

Review: Touch (Lighthouse Immersive Artspace)

Photo of Larkin Miller and Natasha Poon Woo in Touch by Dahlia Katz

Touch, conceived by Guillame Côté, is a 45-minute dance show about communication and connection between two people. A partnership between Lighthouse Immersive Artspace and Côté Danse, it shares the space of 1 Yonge St. with the heavily-advertised immersive Van Gogh exhibit known for its room-sized projections. Featuring similarly large-scale projections by Thomas Payette of Mirari Studio, the 360-degree experience packs a lot of sensory input into a short amount of time. It’s playful and fun.

Continue reading Review: Touch (Lighthouse Immersive Artspace)

Review: UnCovered: The Music of Dolly Parton (The Musical Stage Company)

Photo of Kelly Holiff, Jully Black, and Hailey Gillis in UnCovered by Dahlia Katz

In UnCovered: The Music of Dolly Parton, The Musical Stage Company takes on the career of the legendarily flashy country star credited with everything from increasing literacy rates in Tennessee children to funding the development of the Moderna COVID vaccine. The entertainment force of nature is given a rollicking and heartfelt homage here, staged by Fiona Sauder, with rearranged songs strung together around thematically-relevant Parton quips read off postcards.

Ironically, UnCovered is the first show I’ve seen since COVID under the cover of an indoor theatre, the magnificent Koerner Hall. The sheer size of the interior contrasts sharply with the maximum of 175 people in the audience. Luckily, the six-person cast is up to the challenge of filling the space with sound, and the audience is so excited to be there that it loses some of that Toronto reserve and has a small dance party. Though I’m only a casual fan of Ms. Parton, I can say that this did not hinder my enjoyment of the evening.

Continue reading Review: UnCovered: The Music of Dolly Parton (The Musical Stage Company)

Review: As You Like It (Crow’s Theatre)

Cliff Cardinal kneeling in front of footlights

Oh the joy of seeing live theatre again after so long. It was a truly a gift to be at the opening of the Crow’s Theatre production of As You Like It, a radical retelling by Cliff Cardinal. I have seen a few remarkable online performances during the pandemic but nothing virtual can compare with being part of a live audience, of feeling the energy of the performers and the rest of the audience. Absolute bliss!

Admittedly I was fairly anxious before I went, to the point of considering not going. I gave myself permission to leave if I felt panicked during the evening and that eased my anxiety. Crow’s Theatre’s policy that all patrons have to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times on the premises also helped to calm me down. It was worth it to experience Cliff Cardinal’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s As you Like It. Continue reading Review: As You Like It (Crow’s Theatre)