Review: Shove It Down My Throat (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre/Pandemic Theatre)

Photo of Willard Gillard, Johnnie Walker, Anders Yates, Kwaku Okyere, Daniel Carter, Heath V Salazar, and Craig Pike by Jeremy MimnaghToronto theatre artist Johnnie Walker debuts his new play based on a true criminal case

It was an initial whiff of injustice—a gay man wrongly imprisoned for defending himself—that sparked Toronto-based theatre artist Johnnie Walker into action. The playwright spent years investigating a complex criminal case and processing his findings into a new play, Shove It Down My Throat, now playing at Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre.

True Crime is a genre that has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. Podcasts like Serial, Atlanta Monster, and CBC’s own Someone Knows Something, all roughly follow the same formula of unpacking a historical crime and examining it from multiple angles in hopes of drawing new and interesting conclusions. Shove It Down My Throat borrows heavily from that formula but Walker puts a spin on it by examining his subject through a queer lens. Continue reading Review: Shove It Down My Throat (Buddies in Bad Times Theatre/Pandemic Theatre)

Review: William Shakespeare’s Shakespeare (Now I Am Dead Productions)

Intimate, thought-provoking biography of Shakespeare performs in east-end Toronto

After 400-odd years, we have a new Shakespearean play, thanks to Now I Am Dead Productions‘ innovative approach to The Bard’s work. Based on his writings and the (albeit limited) records of his life, this Toronto-based company present a new tragicomedy about the man behind many plays we now call classic.

The Most Humourous and Tragic Tale of William Shakespeare’s Shakespeare is a pseudohistorical drama that strips away the legacy and accolades of the playwright and looks at his life through lenses such as friend, lover, husband and father. In particular, the story is based on his creative process in staging Taming of the Shrew, his courtship of Anne Hathaway, and the deaths of loved ones such as his son Hamnet and his friendly rival Christopher Marlowe.

Continue reading Review: William Shakespeare’s Shakespeare (Now I Am Dead Productions)

Review: Guarded Girls (Tarragon Theatre/Green Light Arts)

Photo of Virgilia Griffith and Vivien Endicott-Douglas by Cylla von TiedemannA fascinating, keenly-observed new play by Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman is now on stage in Toronto

“What do you like?” Bubbly inmate Britt (Virgilia Griffith) asks this of wary new transfer Sid (Vivien Endicott-Douglas) in the first moments of Guarded Girls, by Governor General Literary Award-nominee Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman, now playing at the Tarragon Extraspace in association with Green Light Arts. Nineteen-year-old Sid, who has been bounced around from prison to prison for her aggressive behaviour, likes cramming packs of gum into her mouth, long-necked giraffes, and pretending to be other people. It’s better than being herself.

Continue reading Review: Guarded Girls (Tarragon Theatre/Green Light Arts)

Review: A Blow in the Face (Bald Ego Theatre/Nightwood Theatre)

A play by Lisa Ryder, now on stage in Toronto, tackles the topic of postpartum depression

A Blow in the Face, produced by Bald Ego Theatre in association with Nightwood Theatre, is an intimate tour through a young mother’s bout with postpartum depression. Uncompromising in its vision and attention to craft, the play continues in The Theatre Centre’s tradition of moving the artform forward.

Continue reading Review: A Blow in the Face (Bald Ego Theatre/Nightwood Theatre)

Review: Mixed Programme (Ballet BC / Live TO)

Ballet BC brings their mixed program of three works to Toronto

Live TO presents Ballet BC at the Bluma Appel Theatre with a three work Mixed Programme. The three contrasting works showcase the beautiful company dancer’s technique and versatility. From a colourless yet quirky work to a colourful and soulful piece to the music of Jimi Hendrix, the mixed programme has something for everyone. Not to mention, it also features the highly sought after choreography of Crystal Pite.

Continue reading Review: Mixed Programme (Ballet BC / Live TO)

Review: The Only Possible Way (Nowadays Theatre)

Nowadays Theatre are providing new Iranian newcomers and refugees an outlet to perform on a Toronto stage

Nowadays Theatre Company presents the English premiere of Mohammad Yaghoubi’s meta-theatrical play, The Only Possible Way, at the Berkeley Street Theatre. This workshop production is part of Canadian Stage’s RBC Emerging Company Program and features a cast of Iranian newcomers and refugees, many of whom are performing in English for the first time. 

Thirteen members of this ensemble sit in chairs that flank the stage, from which they take turns stepping into an assortment of quirky, memorable characters in a series of eight scenes. The cast is accompanied by two musicians that set the mood and mark scene transitions with Iranian string instruments. Continue reading Review: The Only Possible Way (Nowadays Theatre)

Review: Wedding at Aulis (Soulpepper)

Photo of Derek Boyes and Stuart Hughes by Cylla von TiedemannSoulpepper presents an intimate adaptation of Euripides’ Greek tragedy Iphigenia in Aulis in Toronto

We tend to think of Greek mythology as the realm of epic battles and larger-than-life gods but the characters we find in Greek myths can also be used to tell compelling, human-scale stories. Euripides’ play Iphigenia in Aulis is an example of how an outsized conflict between gods and mortals can translate into a gripping family drama. Wedding at Aulis, an adaptation of Euripides’ play by Iranian-Canadian playwright Sina Gilani, is given a new, intimate production by Soulpepper.  Continue reading Review: Wedding at Aulis (Soulpepper)

Preview: Ergo Pink Fest (Ergo Arts Theatre)

Ergo Pink Fest gathers women and non-binary theatre creatives for an intensive in Toronto

I sincerely hope that Ergo Pink Fest (Ergo Arts Theatre) becomes part of Toronto’s spring theatre tradition. If the collective spirit of the playwrights, dramaturges, and performers gathered at the kick-off reception is any indication, Toronto’s West End is in for a innovative and refreshingly off-beat weekend of incubator theatre by women and non-binary playwrights. Continue reading Preview: Ergo Pink Fest (Ergo Arts Theatre)