An Evening With Uncle Val – Theatre Passe Muraille

By Megan MooneyAndy Jones as Uncle Val

Cross posted with blogTO

I’m not entirely sure what John and I expected when we went to An Evening with Uncle Val at Theatre Passe Muraille last night, but it wasn’t what we got. We were expecting straight up comedy, maybe even sketch comedy (as much as you can get in a one-person show). But this was more. Don’t get me wrong, it was very funny, but it was also, I don’t know… illuminating?

As John said to me after the show, it does an amazing job of evoking a sense of place. Uncle Val comes from a Newfoundland outport, but is now living with his daughter and son-in-law in the suburbs of St. John’s – and you really can kind of feel the suburbs while you’re watching.

I was introduced to a few Newfoundland traditions, learning things about other parts of the country is always really interesting to me. One tradition that really caught my ear was the Newfoundland recitation tradition. I also hadn’t thought how Newfoundland joining confederation would affect the culture and even day-to-day life of the province. I forgot how recent it was, sometimes I think I lose sight of the things that happened before I was born. But since they joined confederation in 1949 there are still plenty of people alive and well who were born in the independent Dominion of Newfoundland, not Newfoundland the province.

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AGOKWE – Buddies in Bad Times

By Megan Mooney

Waawaate Fobister in AGOKWE

 

Okay.  First, a confession.  For some reason I have found this a very difficult article to write.  I saw AGOKWE ages ago, and have been turning the show over and over in my head since then.  The main problem is that I can’t actually figure out what I think of the show. 

Here’s what I do know…  I am glad I saw the show.  There are some stunning moments in this show.  And, this can’t have been an easy show to write and perform for Waawaate Fobister, in fact, the whole thing felt pretty brave.

Why brave?  Well, I wondered out loud to Lisa, who accompanied me to the show, whether this would be harder to do in front of a First Nations audience, or a non-First Nations audience (which, in the Toronto theatre scene usually translates to white).  But Fobister did this in Toronto, so it will be in front of both, since I seem to remember being told that Toronto has the highest population of First Nations people in Canada.

 

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Harold Nights – Wednesday's at Dog Theatre Company

By Alex Rayment

Away from the Numbers

The Bad Dog Theatre company is a place of improv. Unscripted shows rule at this place, with different types on different nights. Wednesday Nights are Harold Nights – “a show featuring improvisers of all experience levels teaming up and tackling . . . improvised storylines inspired from a single audience suggestion”. So, I imagine you can tell where I’m going with this. Let me tell you about last Wednesday…

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King Lear – Hart House Theatre

Review by Dana LaceyBenjamin Blais and Thomas Gough from Hart House production of King Lear

Its hard to review a play by a dead genius, and King Lear is one of Shakespeare‘s best. If you’ve ever seen it before, you know three things: the banter is hilarious, the insults viciously entertaining and the script entirely too long. The Hart House production stays pretty true to all of these things.

The ultra-brief plot: King Lear wants divide his kingdom to his three daughters, and as you can imagine some feelings end up hurt. Alliances are formed, evil plots are devised and disguises are worn, while Lear becomes increasingly senile. The action is oh-so-good, and the violence is cartoon worthy, full of sword fights and eye gouging (“out vile jelly!”).

If you don’t already know the story, its easy to get confused by Billy’s meandering plot lines and there’s a huge chunk in the middle where politics overtake the action. The friend I brought really wished there were two intermissions. Full disclosure: I love this play and have seen it performed many times, but have never made it through an entire show without dozing off.

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How an award is born – The Gordon Pinsent Award of Excellence

By Megan Mooney

A while ago I let folks know about The Company Theatre’s new award – The Award of Excellence. It was awarded to Gordon Pinsent, and in subsequent years the award will be called ‘The Gordon Pinsent Award of Excellence’. It was delivered at one of those ritzy galas that Harper so despises. Although, like most Galas, it was a fundraiser, so I’m not sure where his ‘subsidized by the tax payers’ thing comes in, but you know…

The introduction of the award made me curious. I wanted to know what sparks the desire to institute an award like this, and how it gets decided. Luckily, since I’m a theatre writer, I get to ask all the questions I want. Philip Ricco, the co-artistic director of The Company Theatre, was kind enough to feed my curiosity. And, just in case you guys are curious too, I thought I’d tell you the answers I found out.

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Crackwalker – Staged and Confused

By Dana Lacey

Crackwalker freaked me out before they’d killed the houselights. At first glance the set was beautiful: a dozen light bulbs hung overhead, sending an eerie but soft glow over everything. First the small details kicked in: a battered couch, balls of newspaper, an old chain-link fence…then the one that’s hardest to miss: a giant, bearded and filthy man wandering slowly back and forth, trenchcoat hanging open, the occasional guttural growl coming from a face hidden beneath a hood. He’ll spend most of the play slumped drunkenly in a corner. This was the Crackwalker, I suppose.

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