A Heartbreaking Walk of Staggering Genius – 2010 Summerworks Review

By Amber Landgraff

A Heartbreaking Walk of Staggering Genius

With a title like A Heartbreaking Walk of Staggering Genius I must admit that I was expecting Daniel Sadavoy’s walking tour, one of three walking tours offered as part of this year’s Summerworks Theatre Festival’s Summerwalks, to border on the sublime: something so painful that it is beautiful.

I like the concept of a walking tour around the sites of someone’s breakup history. The idea that a person’s experiences in sites around the city can imprint a history onto those locations is a beautiful thought.
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Or – 2010 Summerworks Review

By Mira Saraf

At 10pm on a Friday night, a few friends and I showed up at the corner of Adelaide and Bathurst for Or. The show was described as a playful comedy about a spy turned playwright who is desperate to finish her piece without the constant distraction from her love life.

The piece started off slow; with dialogue delivered in thick British accents so quickly that it was hard understand. The pockets of laughter rippling across the audience indicated that smaller groups of people were getting the jokes at the beginning but never the entire audience at once.

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Invisible Toronto Walking Tour – 2010 Summerworks Review

By Mira Saraf

I was unsure what to expect when we arrived at the Factory Studio Courtyard for the “invisible” Toronto walking tour. Gathered under a fire escape our guide Falen Johnson, gave us a small introduction to the tour.

She is of aboriginal descent (reminding us that the word “Indian” should only be used if you know someone really well and are comfortable with them (or if they happen to actually be from India). In a city as cosmopolitan as Toronto and as full of visible minorities, it’s funny to think of anyone actually being invisible.

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The Hanging of Françoise Laurent (Stranger Theatre) – 2010 Summerworks Review

by Dorianne Emmerton

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Stranger Theatre’s mandate is to tell stories inspired by history, literature and folklore using a variety of performance techniques. Their newest show,The Hanging of Françoise Laurent at Theatre Passe Muraille (Backspace) as part of Summerworks tells the true story of a Montreal maidservant sentenced to death for stealing a pair of her Madame’s gloves. The year is 1751 and according to the law of the time a woman could escape a death sentence if the hangman marries her.

Montreal does not have a hangman, as the old one has died and no one has stepped up to take the undesirable position. In order to take advantage of this law Françoise must convince the man in the cell next to her to take on the role of hangman and then to marry her. Continue reading The Hanging of Françoise Laurent (Stranger Theatre) – 2010 Summerworks Review

Biographies of the Dead & Dying (MachineFair) 2010 Summerworks Review

By GeAviva Armour-Ostroff and Jeff Meadows - Biographies of the Dead and Dyingorge Perry

Part of the vision of MachineFair is to create work that is intellectually stimulating,  emotionally truthful and accessible.   With their Toronto production of Biographies of the Dead & Dying, audiences can expect to witness a perfect shot, a bull’s-eye.  The play is currently onstage in Toronto at Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of Summerworks.

At first the set is nearly empty.  There is only a comfortable old chair, a rug and a small table for a phone.  Soon though, the stage is spilling over with the presence of Alice and Jack.

Alice, a "one-hit chick lit" author, is brought to life magnificently by Aviva Armour-Ostroff.  She is suffering from writer’s block and has rented a house on Vancouver Island from Jack. 

Jeff Meadows is equally brilliant.  He plays both Jack and Alice’s ex-husband, John.  He is so good that I wasn’t sure that it was the same person playing two roles at first.

 

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Loving the Stranger or how to recognize an invert – 2010 Summerworks Review

by Dorianne Emmerton

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A keyboard stands in a corner manned by a dapper fellow in white face and a bowler hat. In the other corner is what appears to be an armchair covered by an old paint-spattered drop cloth. Seated in it from the minute you enter the theatre is a pre-set old man. This is Loving the Stranger or how to recognize an invert by Ecce Homo Theatre.

Having seen him you expect the old man to begin the show, to speak once the house lights fade. Instead the musician in the other corner starts playing and a white-faced blond woman in a Nazi outfit, playing a child, starts to sing before setting off on a pro-fascist rant.

Brecht would probably be very pleased at how Ecce Homo is keeping his mode of theatre alive and vibrant. As long as he didn’t mind a whole lot of gay male content, at least. Continue reading Loving the Stranger or how to recognize an invert – 2010 Summerworks Review

Review: Romeo and Juliet – CanStage TD Canada Trust Dream in High Park

Never have I been more proud to be a Torontonian, than after seeing Canstage TD Canada Trust Dream in High Park. It was, simply the BEST Shakespearean production I have EVER seen, ANYWHERE.

This season’s production of Romeo and Juliet was clever, beautiful, and accessible. It retold the familiar story with an infectious energy and all without pandering to young audiences or needlessly resorting to “modern-day” vernacular.

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Even Darkness is Made of Light – 2010 Summerworks Review

by Dorianne Emmerton

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Even Darkness is Made of Light (Not My Pig, Not My Farm Productions) is a one woman play about suicide. This sounds like my own personal theatre festival hell. Instead, this show was like a little bit of heaven.

Edwidge Jean-Pierre is a force of nature. It’s impossible not to pay her your full attention when she’s onstage playing Carrie, or any of the number of characters who interact with her. Besides Carrie she also plays Carrie’s love interest Carlos, her psychiatrist, her geography teacher, her sister and her school friends. Continue reading Even Darkness is Made of Light – 2010 Summerworks Review

Review: Bad Dog Theatre Short Play Festival

by Dorianne Emmerton

The Bad Dog Theatre Short Play Festival showcases original Canadian comedic short plays. Keep reading to find out more about the two shows Loose Connections and The Void.

Loose Connections (by Robin Pond)

Loose Connections is a set of sketch comedy scene played by three actors, Eric Turkienicz, Deanna Palazzo, and Skye Regan.

In the first scene a woman storms into a coffeeshop demanding to know what the secret conspiracy is to keep patrons returning to that same establishment every day. The angry woman had some very funny build up but unfortunately the punch line to the scene was lost the night I saw it. Continue reading Review: Bad Dog Theatre Short Play Festival