Review: Murder at the Burlesque, episode 1: The Mal-Tease Falcon

Improv meets burlesque meets murder mystery playing at The Social Capital Theatre in Toronto

Dames, private eyes, a dirty business, and a Red Herring, all in one burlesque club! What else can you expect from an improv sketch burlesque show? Willing to take unexpected philosophical side-trips into the nature of fish and man, Murder at the Burlesque: Episode 1: The Mal-Tease Falcon at The Social Capital Theatre/Black Swan Comedy is always ready to have fun with their material. Before I continue in this review, I will outright admit my bias: I love burlesque and I love murder mysteries. Therefore I am excited to report that the combination works (for the most part, anyway). Continue reading Review: Murder at the Burlesque, episode 1: The Mal-Tease Falcon

Review: Hair (Lower Ossington Theatre)

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Lower Ossington’s Hair is an “Outstanding Tribute”

Hair may be the best artifact we have of the late 1960s: other shows sing love letters to the period, but few of them capture the feeling of being inside the hippy movement at this unique moment in our history, when a generation’s blistering anger and outrage suddenly gave way to an outpouring of optimism, love and understanding. The Lower Ossington Theatre’s production (which plays off-site at the Randolph Theatre) takes that task seriously: they aren’t just delivering a good time, they represent and embody one of the most important and radical social movements our culture has ever produced — something never seen before or since.

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Review: The Misunderstanding (Lester Trips Theatre)

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This New Adaptation of The Misunderstanding Innovates and Enlightens

According to the French philosopher Albert Camus, life is absurd. Not silly or screwy or goofy, but fundamentally absurd, at the deepest level. His reasoning is pretty straightforward: the world doesn’t make sense and never will, but we humans can’t stop ourselves from desperately wishing and often pretending that it does, and so we experience a perpetual, gnawing disappointment that we can’t escape or articulate. Don’t despair, though; it makes for great theatre.

The Misunderstanding, an adaptation of Camus’ play about a prodigal son who returns home to visit his mother and sister, is currently playing at the charming Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse on University of Toronto campus. Needless to say, the returning son doesn’t find quite the joyous reunion he was hoping for. (The title may be the most sardonic joke in the play.)

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Review: Cactus Flower (Scarborough Theatre Guild)

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Scarborough Theatre Guild’s Cactus Flower is Dark and Sweet

The set of Cactus Flower is dark. A young woman is splayed on her bed while her radio blares. A man knocks against the wall, yelling over the music. He smells gas. He climbs through her window, turns off the gas and tries to wake her. She believes he’s her lover and he kisses her. My stomach churns as the audience laughs. When she’s awake she complains how she “fizzled” her own suicide. The audience laughs again. Even with the lights on, the play is pointedly dark.

It makes sense. The show’s title is about a prickly plant that can still reveal a little sweetness. The “cactus flower” is supposed to be nurse Stephanie Dickinson, a strict nurse who is more than meets the eye. I think the title can also refer to the play itself. The content is prickly: a slimy older man going after a naive young woman, who attempts suicide when she believes his wife and kids will always be his number one priority. In the midst of all the seediness, the show is still funny. I liked the little bit of sweetness that came out of it.

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Review: Wicked (Mirvish)

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Mirvish presents the return of the hit Broadway musical Wicked in Toronto through November 2, 2014

There’s no denying that Wicked is a phenomenon. In the ten years since the show opened on Broadway it has grossed $3.3 billion worldwide and has been seen by over 40 million people. The blockbuster Broadway musical has just flown back to Toronto’s Ed Mirvish theatre for a fourth engagement so if you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen it yet, now’s your chance.

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