Review: Scorch (Bustle and Beast Theatre Co. and Blarney Productions)

Photo of Julie NIUBOI Ferguson in ScorchScorch dazzles on the Toronto stage with questions about gender and justice

Sometimes a show is just great: the set, the direction, the actor, are amazing. That’s exactly what Bustle & Beast Theatre Company with Blarney Production’s Scorch playing at the Theatre Pass Muraille Backspace is: great. As a result, please allow me to count the ways Scorch is a must-see show for 2018.

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Review: Vitals (Theatre Born Between)

Photo of Lauren Wolanski provided by the companyElectric performance anchors this revival of Vitals, now on stage in Toronto

Vitals, by Outside the March playwright-in-residence Rosamund Small, has received several productions and many accolades since its debut, including the 2014 Dora Awards for Outstanding Production and New Play (Independent Theatre category). New theatre company Theatre Born Between devotes its premiere production to the one-woman show, presented in stripped-down form at The Commons Theatre. Thanks to a strong performer and some unique staging elements, the company proves that this urgent script doesn’t need an elaborate production to remain vital.

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Review: The Monkey Queen (Red Snow Collective)

Shapeshifters, spirits and demons take to the Toronto stage in The Monkey Queen

The Monkey Queen (Red Snow Collective)—on at The Theatre Centre—is a quietly subversive play that adds childlike wonder and a female perspective to Wu Cheng’En’s fable-filled novel Journey to the West, an adventurous quest for knowledge featuring monsters, demons, and spirits galore.

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Review: Middletown (Crows Theatre/Shaw Festival)

Middletown asks existential questions of the human condition, now on the Toronto stage

In partnership with Crow’s Theatre, the 2017 Shaw Festival’s staging of Will Eno’s poetic observation of small town life, Middletown, gets a remount at Streetcar Crowsnest. Meg Roe’s simple yet immersive production feels carefully measured. The ensemble cast brings weight and purpose to the deceptively mundane, seemingly random interactions between townsfolk. Here is a space where the minutiae of everyday life is given cosmic significance.  Continue reading Review: Middletown (Crows Theatre/Shaw Festival)

Review: Katherine Is Not A Communist (Epigraph Theatre)

Photo of Katherine Doering in Katherine is Not A CommunistThis site-specific one-hander, on stage in Toronto, is smart and funny but didn’t all add up

Katherine is Not a Communist is a new play written by Katherine Doering and Curtis te Brinke and produced by Epigraph Theatre. The one-woman show, featuring Doering as the title character, packs a lot into 90 minutes. There’s American history, classic Hollywood movies, and witchcraft. It’s a wild ride, but for me, the show didn’t hang together. I thought the different bits were interesting, but as a whole, the show left me confused. Continue reading Review: Katherine Is Not A Communist (Epigraph Theatre)

Review: Grand Finale (Hofesh Shechter)

Canadian Stage opens 18/19 season in Toronto with introspective, apocalyptic dance

Internationally celebrated choreographer Hofesh Shechter returns to Toronto with a smoke-filled stage and a chaotic world in freefall in Grand Finale at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Grand Finale does not mark his final work, but presents a dreary yet beautiful apocalyptic world.

In this world, dancers are not distressed in a typical end-of-the-world fashion; rather they blankly move through a chaotic realm. Their movements are loose-limbed as they shuffle and shudder around the stage with supple wrists and upturned chests. They hold their mouths open in emotionless, silent screams, or fall lifeless to the ground to be carried, manipulated and dragged around.

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