Recent Theatre Reviews

Theatre Review – Blyth Festival 2019/Jumbo by Sean Dixon

Photo by Terry Manzo

The kindest thing
to say about the Blyth Festival’s world premiere of Jumbo is that the play is not ready for prime time. Yet it should
have worked, given the talent behind the project such as accomplished writer
Sean Dixon and talented director Gil Garratt. I suspect that a lot of time was
spent on design issues, such as how to present a giant elephant on stage, at
the expense of a cogent script.

There is a great Jumbo story somewhere, but Dixon –Read More

Theatre Review – Blyth Festival 2019/Cakewalk by Colleen Curran

Photo by Terry Manzo

Apparently, Cakewalk
by Colleen Curran, which premiered at the Blyth Festival in 1984, and was
remounted in 1986, has been one of the company’s most requested revivals. I
actually saw both those shows and remember them fondly, so Curran’s zany comedy
redux was welcome news. Happily, I can report that this 2019 production is right
up to the mark.

Curran’s plot revolves around a small town baking
competition, which is part of a wider Canada Day celebration. The grand prize
is a trip to Paris –Read More

Theatre Review – 4th Line Theatre/Bloom: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fable by Beau Dixon

Photo by Wayne Eardley

4th Line Theatre’s latest production, Bloom: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fable, is another
entertaining evening from this most enterprising of summer festivals. The piece
is filled with music and dance as it traces the journey of a small town rock
band from nothingness to near greatness to oblivion again. Perhaps the story is
a bit predictable, which always happens when a girl gets between two band guys
and wrecks a friendship, but Bloom lopes
along at a fast clip, thanks to director Kim –Read More

Theatre Review – Factory Theatre & Obsidian Theatre/Angélique by Lorena Gale

Photo by Andrew Alexander

The touring production of Lorena Gale’s Angélique (1995) is a class act. Originally presented by Montreal’s Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau D’Hôte, the classic play is performed with both earnestness and imagination. It has taken over two decades for this important play to make it to Toronto, but given the excellence of the production, the wait has been worth it.

Marie-Joseph Angélique was a 29-year-old slave who was
tortured and hanged in 1734 for burning down 46 buildings in –Read More

Theatre Review – Modern Times Stage Company & Crow’s Theatre/The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov

Photo by John Lauener

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Modern Times Stage
Company’s production of Anton Chekhov’s The
Cherry Orchard
is near perfection.

Modern Times is one of my favourite companies in the city. I
particularly love director Soheil Parsa’s take on the classics. He goes right
to the heart of the matter, and you come away from a Modern Times production
completely satisfied because you have experienced the playwright’s intention in
the purist sense. Such is the case of Parsa’s The Cherry Orchard where Chekhov’s human comedy has –Read More

Theatre Review – Puzzle Piece Theatre/The Little Prince: Reimagined, translated and adapted by Richard Lam

Photo by Barry McCluskey

One of the delights of The
Little Prince: Reimagined
is that it is a low-tech production. It is quite
amazing what you can create out of paper airplanes, and the clever use of
flashlights. This enjoyable children’s theatre features a paper puppet show of
immense imagination.

Richard Lam translated and adapted the script from the
beloved 1943 novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He also composed the
light-hearted music, and appears on stage as the pilot and various other
characters. Kira Hall, with her adorable mop –Read More

Theatre Review – Native Earth Performing Arts & Bound to Create Theatre/Isitwendam (An Understanding), co-created by Meegwun Fairbrother and Jack Grinhaus

Photo by Joe Bucci

Before getting into the relative merits of the play, the
production of Isitwendam (An
Understanding)
has one of the finest integrations of theatrical values I
have witnessed in many a moon. The set (Hans Saefkow), lighting (Melissa
Joakim), projections (Andy Moro with Joakim), and sound (Marc Meriläinen) move
together with the precision of a military tattoo. When actor/playwright Meegwun
Fairbrother is added to the mix, a fifth element becomes totally synchronized
into the whole. If I had to sum up the visual/aural impact of –Read More

Theatre Review – Pulse Theatre/The Woods Are Dark and Deep by Mladen Obradovic

The Woods Are Dark and
Deep
is one of those plays whose heart is in the right place, but one that
needs work.

Clearly, playwright Mladen Obradovic is passionate about his
subject – the little known fact that during World War 1, Canada put 8500
immigrants into 24 internment camps, including whole families, who had
passports from the enemy combatants. Given the scope of empires, this included Germans, Italians, Ukrainians, Croats,
Serbs, Austrians, Hungarians and Turks.

Mostly men, these immigrants were used as a manual labour
force, –Read More

Theatre Review – Canadian Stage/Unsafe by Sook-Yin Lee

Photo by Dahlia Katz

Unsafe is billed
as a performance documentary that is an inquiry into censorship and art in
Canada. It is also the story of its own creation, as it were, because we follow
how the idea behind Unsafe, grew into
the show now being performed at the Berkeley. It is also, of course, something
much more. Unsafe may fly off in tangents,
and at times be unruly, but it is a fund of fascinating information that leads
to provocative questions.

Polymath Sook-Yin Lee, who is credited –Read More