Review: "Against Nature" with Citadel + Compagnie

Review: "Against Nature" with Citadel + Compagnie

From a 21st century perspective, I found the story line just a tad unnerving as I wondered how a theatrical presentation could be presented of a ‘doom and gloom’ story. An interesting connection was made in the programme. This story is widely believed to lead to the downfall of Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and caused the protagonist to lead an amoral life. A rather interesting connection.

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Off-Broadway Review: "Enter Laughing - The Musical"

Off-Broadway Review: "Enter Laughing - The Musical"

The Big Apple called me, and I really wanted to pay a visit. I also knew friends would be in town and they had already booked me a seat with them to see ‘Enter Laughing, The Musical’.  I knew nothing about the play but recognized several names in the production’s credits and thought to give this one a go at it.

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Review: 'Hand to God' at The Coal Mine

Review: 'Hand to God' at The Coal Mine

Robert Askin’s ‘Hand to God’ might come dangerously close to brash irreverence for fundamentalist or deeply devoted/devout Christians.  For this practicing Catholic who still holds the tenements of the faith close to his heart, I wasn’t offended whatsoever at the very dark elements of black comedy hidden within the tightly wound script.

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Review: ‘Copenhagen’ at Soulpepper Theatre

Review: ‘Copenhagen’ at Soulpepper Theatre

There has always been something about Michael Frayn’s three hander ‘Copenhagen’ which has always intrigued me. West End actors were keen on performing the piece. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but one of the characters mentions an important context involving all three which made me gasp along with other audience members sitting around me. After seeing Soulpepper’s production of Mr. Frayn’s complex play, tautly directed by Katrina Darychuk, I’ve now understood its fascination for actors and their desire to add this production to their resumes.

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Review: 'A Doll's House Part 2' at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

Review: 'A Doll's House Part 2' at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre

Confession: I have neither seen nor read Henrik Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’ (I know, shame, a retired English teacher and lover of drama) so I’m unable to make any connections to the original story. After seeing this wonderful production, I felt there was no need for me to have seen the first story as Mr. Hnath’s script is spot on with excellent performances delivered by four sensational actors who certainly know their way around a stage. Will I attend a production of Ibsen’s play if it is staged?  Absolutely.

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Review: 'Chicho' at Theatre Passe Muraille

Review: 'Chicho' at Theatre Passe Muraille

I was pleased upon my arrival at Passe Muraille and being told the production is not pronounced ‘Chico’ as in Chico & The Man but ‘Cheech’o (as in comedians “Cheech & Chong”). I am hoping you are old enough to remember these two references. Mr. Bitter also refers to this fact at the top of the show.

Theatre Passe Muraille has billed ‘Chicho’ as “an ashamed-queer-Catholic-man-boy from Venezuela who hilariously attempts to feel beautiful despite his warring identity politics”.  So much inferred within this statement that I had no idea what I was about to see; however, what I’ve been discovering lately is the theatre of which I know nothing about leaves an indelible mark. This was my first visit to Passe Muraille so I was looking forward to attending.

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Review: "New Magic Valley Fun Town" at the Tarragon Theatre

Review: "New Magic Valley Fun Town" at the Tarragon Theatre

A rather odd and quirky title, but man, oh, man the Toronto premiere of Daniel MacIvor’s ‘New Magic Valley Fun Town’ masterfully said so much for me in those moments where not a great deal was said. This will make sense when you see the production as I’m trying not to spoil where the story leads.

And when an exceptionally remarkable cast played and toyed with my emotions and thoughts right up to the play’s enlightening conclusion, I was completely taken and moved by the journey I had just experienced. Another bonus was the talkback after the performance so, future audiences, stick around for the dialogue and post show conversation.

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Review: ‘Good Morning, Viet Mom’ by Cahoots Productions

Review: ‘Good Morning, Viet Mom’ by Cahoots Productions

Cahoots has billed this world premiere of ‘Good Morning, Viet Mom’ as authentic and irreverent. Franco Nguyen travels to Vietnam to look for inspiration for his first feature film and he finds an unexpected subject, his mother.  Mr Nguyen then delves into the personal and shares stories about visiting Vietnam for the first time and being re-introduced to the mother he thought he knew.

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Review: "The Father" at The Coal Mine Theatre

Review: "The Father" at The Coal Mine Theatre

I would bet that Coal Mine’s production will probably be nominated for some Dora awards this year. The social justice issues of examining dignity confronting a debilitating and ultimately life destroying disease has been handled with great respect in ‘The Father’. Beg, borrow or plead to get a ticket and to see true ensemble perfection.

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Review: ‘Little Menace: Pinter Plays’ at Soulpepper

Review: ‘Little Menace: Pinter Plays’ at Soulpepper

Rarely have I ever had a chance to see a Harold Pinter play because one hasn’t been done so far.  So, when I heard Soulpepper would be doing a series of Pinter one acts, I was intrigued and ventured forth to the Distillery District. 

I don’t remember reading Pinter plays during my undergraduate years at Western in studying English Language and Literature.  For shame, for shame, I know but I learned more about the term ‘Pinteresque’ from conversations with others in my involvement in community theatre or in discussions with other actors there.

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Review: "Oslo" by Studio 180 Theatre

Review: "Oslo" by Studio 180 Theatre

In this humble guy’s opinion, ‘good theatre’ should entertain an audience while ‘great theatre’ should entertain and teach us something extremely important about the human condition.

For me, playwright J. T. Rogers has created great theatre with ‘Oslo’, but it is a text richly laden with dialogue so the audience will have to pay close and careful attention. Under Joel Greenberg’s astutely-handled direction, thirteen actors channel emotional and passionate driven performances highlighting the first-ever peace deal between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. (PLO).

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Review: "Boom X" with Theatre Calgary

Review: "Boom X" with Theatre Calgary

Serendipity or the theatre gods must have been at work when I was in Montreal in mid February and saw that Rick Miller was in previews for his production of ‘Boom X’ at the Segal Centre. Back in 2008 when I was still teaching before retirement, I had attended a performance of Rick’s MacHomer: The Simpsons Do Macbeth at Toronto’s Massey Hall, was captivated by his vocal prowess and thought, “Here’s my hook for kids” to get into Shakespeare’s play of witchcraft and murder since the television series was at its’ height of popularity. I met Rick after the show and learned he also performed a condensed version of the play to high school students.

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Review: "The Last Wife" at Centaur Theatre Company

Review: "The Last Wife" at Centaur Theatre Company

Both gripping and riveting, the Montreal Centaur Theatre’s opening night production of Kate Hennig’s ‘The Last Wife’ soared to great heights thanks to a carefully crafted and nuanced vision by director Eda Holmes, and a cast of solid performers who captured a sense of dignity of these British historical characters even in their moments of passion, abuse, confrontation and betrayal. I had the opportunity to see ‘The Last Wife’ at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre and was certainly looking forward to re-visiting this story once again especially in a company world renowned as the Centaur.

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REVIEW: "Come From Away" (Canadian Cast)

REVIEW: "Come From Away" (Canadian Cast)

‘Come From Away’ is billed as the remarkable true story, and that it most certainly is. What made this story remarkable for me when I first saw it was its’ belief in the triumphant and restoring human spirit of kindness and compassion of the people in Gander, Newfoundland, to the stranded passengers on thirty-eight planes on September 11, 2001.  The spirit of goodwill, kindness and compassion still transcends throughout the entire Canadian production.

Is it still remarkable? Yes. Did it bring a tear to my eye? Yes. Is it a story that needs to be seen again? Yes, especially given the tempestuous times in which we now find ourselves worldwide. ‘Come From Away’ continues to touch deep to the very core of who we are as human beings and what we can do under the most horrifying and terrifying of circumstances.

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Review: The Virgin Trial’ at Soulpepper

Review: The Virgin Trial’ at Soulpepper

I had the opportunity to see Kate Henning’s extraordinary The Last Wife in 2017 at Soulpepper and was marvellously drawn back into the Tudor world and its events of the court of Henry VIII, Katherine Parr, his surviving wife and Henry’s three children from various wives – Mary, Bess (later Queen Elizabeth I) and Edward. I’ve always held a fascination with the world of the Tudors and found that Ms. Henning’s text completely captivated my attention. 

For one, I liked the fact the story is told in ‘modern English’ as it was easy to follow the events of the plot since I remember a great deal of them from studies during my undergraduate years and in teaching English language and literature to secondary school students.  When I had read that Ms. Henning was completing a trilogy of the story, I was looking forward to continuing the journey with the characters. The fact the second part would be directed by Alan Dilworth with Ms. Watson returning was a bonus.

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Review: "Rose" at Soulpepper Theatre

Review: "Rose" at Soulpepper Theatre

I wanted so very much for the North American/world premiere opening night of ‘Rose’ to soar through the rafters of Baillie Theatre.

Well, it didn’t completely reach that height for me except for the ‘eleven o’clock’ showstopping number in the second act by a completely believable and touching Hailey Gillis as the title character.

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