Review: "The Brothers Size" at Soulpepper Theatre

Review:  "The Brothers Size" at Soulpepper Theatre

A compelling drama, The Brothers Size, opened last Friday as a Canadian premiere at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto.  Written by academy award winning American playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, it follows the lives of young black brothers in a small bayou town of Louisiana.  Although the plot is relatively uncomplicated, the great depth of this play comes from the often searing relationships among the men, the embracing of the difficult themes of race, poverty, and misguided male identity, and a unique and astounding style born from the African religion and culture of Yoruba.

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Review: "Old Stock" at the Tarragon Theatre

Review: "Old Stock" at the Tarragon Theatre

Playwright Hannah Moscovitch’s project was to learn more of the story behind her paternal family, especially her great grandfather, Chaim Moscovitch (Dani Oore) and her great grandmother Chaya (Mary Fay Coady). They came to Halifax, Canada, in 1908 on a boat. Chaim’s family were all killed in a pogrom in Romania.  In a chilling narration, he recounts to Chaya and to all of us how he found their bodies which is a moment he will never forget. Chaya was coming to Canada with her entire family. Her first husband died in Russia while trying to leave from there.

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Review: "Antigone" at Young People’s Theatre

Review: "Antigone" at Young People’s Theatre

Whenever I see a production of a classic Greek play, I’m always a tad leery of what to expect for the fact I have never found these stories particularly interesting. I know, an English major/French minor who should have studied and respected these works.  I know, I know, and I did. I’ve always enjoyed most of the Shakespearean works but there was something about the Greek plays that just never intrigued me to want to attend.

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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: '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: "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: "Mules" by Scotiabank Community Theatre at Streetcar Crowsnest

Review: "Mules" by Scotiabank Community Theatre at Streetcar Crowsnest

‘Mules’ is a dark comedy about choices, trust, friendship, circumstances, poverty and drug smuggling. In ninety minutes with one set and three actors, this play achieves what plays aspire to be. It is dramatic, suspenseful, comedic and emotional. The dialogue is engaging, the characters are complex and the performances are superlative.

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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: "Hamlet" by Why Not Theatre

Review: "Hamlet" by Why Not Theatre

A bold, inventive and remarkable retelling of Hamlet produced by Why Not Theatre opened Thursday at the Berkeley Street Theatre.  It is a remounting of a successful run in 2017 at The Theatre Centre in Toronto.  The classic tale is invigorated with a gender bent cast and a bilingual component.  Gender reallocation is not an entirely new format to Shakespeare audiences – consider Stratford Festival’s recent Julius Caesar or Prospero.  Shakespeare himself experimented with men playing women playing men – consider Portia or Viola.  What is more unique and creative is the combination of the spoken word and American Sign Language which elevates this production in profound new ways.  The use of signing has two effects – most importantly, it brings the story to a deaf audience.  Secondly, it adds a brilliant dimension of intensity to the emotion –packed story.

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Review: "After the Fire" at The Theatre Centre

Review:  "After the Fire" at The Theatre Centre

Award winning Albertan playwright Matthew MacKenzie enjoys a recent successful run of his production of Bears, a foray into the politics of oil pipelines in our country.  With After the Fire, MacKenzie examines an equally large topic with the Fort MacMurray fires of 2015 and their devastating costs, both human and environmental.  The fires were the costliest disaster in terms of resources that Canada has seen.  Political and societal implications were vast – from South African “volunteers” on strike to a prime minister bent on pride.  Mr. MacKenzie has chosen a very wide issue that fragments into many sub-strata.

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Review: "We Are Not Alone" with 2B Theatre Company

Review: "We Are Not Alone" with 2B Theatre Company

Do I believe that extra-terrestrial beings can exist? Do any of us believe they might exist?

About fifteen minutes into his riveting monologue performance, Damien Atkins asks us by a show of hands how many of us believe in this possibility and how many of us are still not convinced. I did raise my hand in support of other worldly life could possibly exist. Notice I’m not saying ‘does exist’ because I’m not certain of that fact.

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Review: "1979" at Berkeley Downstairs Theatre

Review: "1979" at Berkeley Downstairs Theatre

Joe who?

For most Canadians, it was a blink of an eye in remembering a naively thirty-nine-year-old Joe Clark’s tenure as the 16th Prime Minister of Canada from June 4, 1979 – March 3, 1980. I was just finishing high school and can recall the turmoil in which our country found itself during this time, but I really had no interest in that political spectrum as all my thoughts were turned to beginning post secondary education.

I wish now that I had paid closer attention to said events as they were comically played out to audience delight and standing ovation in Michael Healey’s superb comedy ‘1979’ now on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

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Review: Soulpepper Presents 'A Christmas Carol'

Review: Soulpepper Presents 'A Christmas Carol'

Like Sherlock Holmes, Ebenezer Scrooge is a character whose renown has seemingly outgrown his source material. His grumpy “Bah humbug!” has become as well-known a catch phrase as any in the realm of theatre. Soulpepper is currently taking theatregoers on their annual journey to 19th century London to experience Michael Shamata’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, amid the hustle and bustle of Toronto’s Christmas Market in the beautiful Distillery District.

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Review: "A Christmas Carol" at the Grand Theatre, Spriet Stage

Review: "A Christmas Carol" at the Grand Theatre, Spriet Stage

Yes, we’re told at the end of the story that Scrooge becomes another strong adult influence over Tiny Tim. Yes, the suffragette movement changed this patriarchal thinking but it was a time consuming process that did not occur overnight. From my historical understanding of the Victorian era, women were relegated to the role of raising and rearing children and never ventured outside and never owned businesses. Additionally, there is no other half in Scrooge’s life where she and another person can influence children and young adults. I am looking forward to hearing what others have to say about this

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