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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Review: Imprints

Posted by art On November - 23 - 2011

Imprints
Theatre Gargantua in association with Factory Theatre
Written by Michael Spence
Directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas
Starring Stephanie Belding, Cosette Derome, Conor Green, Ron Kennell, Kat Sandler, Michael Spence
Runs until November 26 @ Factory Studio Theatre

By Jen Handley

Although some of the publicity for Theatre Gargantua’s latest piece, Imprints, suggests that it is a ghost story, don’t go to see it with the expectation of finding the usual transparent disgruntled ex-beings in period garb; Hallowe’en and its cliché-heavy attendants have come and gone. Theatre Gargantua’s production has not only started from scratch to create its version of exactly what a ghost is, the company has set up the haunted house inside the unconscious mind of its heroine. In fact, Theatre Gargantua has managed to repurpose an Alice in Wonderland format to create something few ghost stories can: a sincere meditation on death. It’s unpretentious, inventively-premised, and, most surprisingly of all, with exuberant playfulness.

In the first moments of the play, the faces of a doctor and nurse, looming hugely as projections on a screen at the edge of the stage, are reassuring their patient as she drifts into what we soon find out is a medically-induced mental and physical “standstill” she has chosen in hopes of surviving until medical science can find a cure for a congenital disease which has killed every one of her paternal ancestors and is now coming for her. They promise the patient, a woman named Lily, that this suspension will seem like the blink of an eye, that she will experience nothing during this temporary death (a prediction many of us might find reasonably likely for regular death). However their masked faces blur into sinister, unfamiliar shapes, and as darkness envelopes Lily’s mind, we hear a horrified whisper, “Oh my God. Oh my God. Something’s gone wrong. I’m still here.” Moreover, she’s not alone. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Living Dances

Posted by art On November - 23 - 2011

Living Dances
Choreographed by James Kudelka
Performed by Rhonda Baker, Ryan Boorne, Valerie Calam, Michael Caldwell, Lauren EM Chin, Luke Garwood, Andrew Giday, Tyler Gledhill, Jones Henry, Laurence Lemieux, Daniel McArthur, Michael Sean Marye, Christianne Ullmark
November 12 @ Ryerson Theatre

By Tina Chu

Living Dances opened with Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, which saw Kudelka explore heterosexuality through male and female roles. Without a hint of cliché, the choreography’s simplicity lies only in the clarity of each duet and how Kudelka is able to capture and convey personalities without any excess in stylization where each gesture felt necessary and just right.

Admittedly, there were split seconds where certain duets felt ever so slightly dissonant, but overall the piece possessed a coherent and natural progression that allowed the fifteen duets to meld into and unravel from one another.

Particularly captivating were the duets of Valerie Calam and Daniel McArthur. Calam and McArthur were the only dancers to share the same partners throughout the piece and unsurprisingly so, as their compatibility as dancers were unmistakable and aside from Christianne Ullmark and Ryan Boorne’s duet, the pair seemed to truly steal the show. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: ProArteDanza’s Season 2011

Posted by art On October - 6 - 2011

Marissa Parzei and Tyler Gledhill perform in ProArteDanza's Season 2011 piece entitled En Parallèle. Choreographer: Roberto Campanella

ProArteDanza presents
SEASON 2011
Choreography by Roberto Campanella, Guillaume Côté, Robert Glumbek and Kevin O’Day
Performed by Johanna Bergfeldt, Valerie Calam, Marc Cardarelli, Tyler Gledhill, Louis Laberge-Côté, Ryan Lee, Marissa Parzei, Brendan Wyatt, and Mami Hata
Runs until October 8 @ Fleck Dance Theatre

By Tina Chu

When seeing a highly esteemed company such as ProArteDanza for the first time, there is always the question of whether one’s excessive buildup of expectations could outweigh and upset the experience of the performance.

And though anticipating nothing but the best from ProArteDanza, its Season 2011 still exceeded my expectations, with strong choreography from Robert Glumbek, Roberto Campanella, Kevin O’Day, Guillaume Côté and memorable performances from the company’s dancers.

The program begins with Glumbek’s Verwoben, a piece named in German, meaning interwoven. Initially, the title appears to refer to the dancers as they entangle and disentangle themselves from one another, but as the performance takes form, it becomes palpable how the title also lends itself to the idea of intertwining music and movement. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: A Fool’s Life

Posted by art On October - 6 - 2011

Haruna Kondo in A Fool's Life. Credit: Katherine Fleitas

A Fool’s Life
Written and directed by Dan Watson
Featuring Claire Calnan, Julian DeZotti, Haruna Kondo, Derek Kwan, and Richard Lee
Live percussion by Gaishi Ishizaka
Runs until October 8, 2011 @ The Theatre Centre

By Kerry Freek

Are you ready to be enchanted?

Inspired by the life and short stories of Japanese writer Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Ahuri Theatre’s A Fool’s Life is thoroughly delightful, balancing the right mix of magic, absurdity, and darkness with an impressive focus on movement.

Three stories, “The Nose,” “Horse Legs,” and “Hell Screen,” receive the Ahuri treatment. While Ryunosuke died in 1927, director Dan Watson crafts a modern spins when needed without losing Ryunosuke’s original magic. His well chosen cast is talented, funny, and energetic: Claire Calnan is delightfully expressive in the first vignette, playing a monk with an exceptional nose. In the second story, Derek Kwan grows horse legs with ease, galloping about the stage. Japan-based actor Haruna Kondo stands out: she’s particularly wonderful as a crazed, crippled old artist in the final story, writhing in agony and ecstasy as her character struggles to complete his ultimate work—a screen depicting Buddhist hell. Together, the cast performs its choreography with ease and humour, tumbling from one scene to the next. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: In The Next Room or the vibrator play

Posted by art On September - 30 - 2011

Ross McMillan, David Storch, Trish Lindström, Elizabeth Saunders, Melody A. Johnson. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

In The Next Room or the vibrator play
By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Richard Rose
Starring Marci T. House, Melody A. Johnson, Trish Lindström, Ross McMillan, Elizabeth Saunders, David Storch, and Jonathan Watton
Run until October 23 @ Tarragon Theatre Mainspace

By Jen Handley

While In the Next Room or the vibrator play might not be one you’ll want to see with anyone whom you’d have to explain the concept of a vibrator to, Tarragon’s (Canadian premiere) production is an extremely enjoyable version of Sarah Ruhl’s Tony and Pulitzer-nominated play, and well worth the viewing and occasionally awkward intermission talk.

The play centres around Dr. and Mrs. Givings, a well-to-do New York couple in the late nineteenth century. The dawn of electricity has had a tremendous effect on their lives—not only are they the proud owners of more than a few electrical lights, but Dr. Givings has entered (my apologies for this and all subsequent puns) the field of electrical massage, the nature of which should be fairly clear from the play’s title, for the treatment of hysteria in his well-to-do female (mostly) patients. The play takes place in their living room and, directly opposite, Dr. Givings’ operating theatre, in which stands a table covered with a lavish throw, and a contraption that looks a lot more like a prototypical dentist’s drill than a sex toy. Nevertheless, it seems to improve the moods of his patients tremendously; and soon his wife finds herself longer content to stay in the parlor. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: from thine eyes

Posted by art On September - 29 - 2011

from thine eyes
Presented by DanceWorks
Co-produced by Native Earth Performing Arts and Signal Theatre
Choreographed and directed by Michael Greyeyes
Written by Yvette Nolan
Movement dramaturgy by Kate Alton
Music composed by Miquelon Rodriguez
Performed by Michael Caldwell, Luke Garwood, Ceinwen Gobert, Sean Ling, Shannon Litzenberger, and Claudia Moore
Ran September 22-24 @ Enwave Theatre

By Tina Chu

Death and dying may be an indefatigably intriguing theme common to art, but as the subject matter for the opening production to DanceWorks’s 2011-2012 Mainstage Series, it comes as something of a surprise.

Thought it’s difficult and obviously sombre subject to approach, from thine eyes presents a collection of four narratives that examine the idea that the unknowable truths of one’s life and of oneself are revealed through the act of dying and that these revelations are the passages into death.

Directed and choreographed by Greyeyes and written by Nolan, the narratives are not only complex thematically, but incredibly dense in detail as stories. It first begins with performer Sean Ling portraying a drug abuser who recalls the experience of himself unleashed as a murderer in a sudden fit of rage. Then, the scene deconstructs into Michael Caldwell’s performance as an abusive man re-living the violent rituals he inflicted upon his partner Ceinwen Gobert, eerily juxtaposed against memories of the recitation of the wedding vows that would begin this traumatic relationship. Next, Luke Garwood and Shannon Litzenberger performs as a couple wrestling to cope with a miscarriage and straddling the line between preserving the memory of their stillborn and being consumed with a past that will never be, a past that could ultimately destroy their relationship. Finally Claudia Moore closes with her depiction of a doctor who, nearing the end of her life begins to be haunted by visions of patients she has lost in her practice, recalling and beginning to understand how their deaths will ease her into her own inevitable end. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sketch Com-Ageddon: Final Round

Posted by art On June - 19 - 2011

By Meagan Snyder

June 18: Finals

Fratwurst
Jape
The Hooligans
The Local Drysdales

Sketch Com-Ageddon had its final rose ceremony tonight, featuring the four sketch troupes that made it through Friday’s semi-finals – Fratwurst, Jape, The Hooligans, and The Local Drysdales. Each troupe performed their best 15 minutes, whether that meant many small sketches, or fewer longer ones. This time around there was no security blanket in the possibility of a judges’ pick – the audience alone was responsible for awarding one troupe $450 and a guaranteed spot in November’s Toronto Sketchfest. All jokes ironically aside, it was a great night for sketch comedy. The troupes were all at the top of their games, and the house was packed (courtesy of The Hooligans, for the most part, based on audience reaction to the mere mention of their name. Spoiler alert.).  Let’s take a look at each troupe’s contributions: Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sketch Com-Ageddon, Day Three

Posted by art On June - 19 - 2011

By Meagan Snyder

June 16: Rounds E and F

Round E:

Ladystache
Grade Eight Dance
Parker and Seville
The Regulars
Good Game
Emergency Bingo
A Classy Affair
Pagan and Eggs

Round F:

Haircut
Creedence Bathwater Revival
The Raisin Gang
The Local Drysdales
The Troupe of Seven
Corporate Elevator
Smells Like The 80s

Tonight marked the final two preliminary rounds of Sketch Com-Ageddon at Comedy Bar. Decisions were made, and yet another 11 sketch troupes were sent into the sketch comedy abyss to live amongst lost footage of Comedy, Inc… or WERE THEY? Stay tuned (or skip to the end of this review) (no, don’t) for an unprecedented Sketch Com-Ageddon TWIST! I haven’t been this shocked since Ashley decided to give out that one extra rose on Monday’s The Bachelorette. Regardless, I’m sure the unlucky performers that were eliminated will all rise in the style of Phoenix, one of the most resilient sketch troupes out there,  but in the meantime, let’s celebrate their best moments, as well as those of their better, more talented, funnier, champion peers. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sketch Com-Ageddon, Day Two

Posted by art On June - 19 - 2011

By Meagan Snyder

June 15: Rounds C and D

Round C:

Not on a School Night
100 and 50
The Hooligans
Vest of Friends
Two Weird Ladies
Shoeless
Obvious Rabid Machine

Round D:

Touch My Stereotype
Lonely
The Ugly Stiks
The Specials
Dick Wolfs
Jape
The Hemingways

11 more sketch troupes packed up their knives and left tonight as the preliminary rounds of Sketch Com-Ageddon continued at Comedy Bar. Tension was in the air as host Paul Snepsts delivered interstitial updates on the score of game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The tension, however, came out of the fact that a room full of comedy nerds didn’t understand the implications of any of these reports. Or, at least, that’s what I assumed. The laughs were plentiful tonight – Round C in particular was jam-packed with high-quality sketches, and I imagine the judges’ pick was not easy. Here are some highlights of the night: Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sketch Com-Ageddon, Day One

Posted by art On June - 16 - 2011

By Meagan Snyder

June 14: Rounds A and B

Round A:
Rulers of the Universe
The Adjective Nouns
The Migratory Salvation Show
Plum Thunder
Tough Crowd
Seventh Round Picks
Reverse Oreo

Round B:
The Cool Grapes
Warm Summer Hotness
Fratwurst
Colonel Mustard
The Temps
Tony Ho

The preliminary rounds of Sketch Com-Ageddon began June 14 at Comedy Bar, and let me just say that if the intensity of the Stanley Cup finals has been too much for you, STAY AWAY from Comedy Bar between now and Saturday night. Ba-rutal vibe. Just kidding, everyone was super nice and supportive of each other. After all, they’re all fighting the good fight for sketch comedy in Toronto. That fight was very enjoyable to watch – everyone clearly had fun on stage, the audiences were supportive, the host’s (Paul Snepsts, co-artistic producer of TO Sketchfest) interstitials were short and sweet, and energy was high. In MY heart, Sketch Com-Ageddon-ers, you’re ALL winners. That said, here are the highlights of Rounds A and B: Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Last Man on Earth

Posted by art On June - 3 - 2011

The Last Man on Earth
Co-created by Phil Rickaby, Dana Fradkin, Stephen LaFrenie, Janick Hebert, Ginette Mohr (Director), Richard Beaune (Dramaturg/Artistic Director), David Atkinson (Music), and Kimberly Beaune (Stage Manager/Production Manager)
Part of the Toronto Festival of Clowns
June 2 & 5 @ Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement

By Jessie Davis

We were led out the back door of Pia Bouman School of Dance, into a parking lot where the evening sun seemed determined not to leave us. Then, as our eyes adjusted to the burst of light, down into the darkness of the adjacent theatre. The setup, though cleaner and painted entirely black, is reminiscent of the freak show at Coney Island—a tiny, intimate space with a handful of amphitheatre-style seats—and we were fortunate enough to find ourselves in the front row.

Quite honestly, at the end of this grueling workday, I was happy just to sit down. I had no idea how thoroughly delighted and enveloped in whimsy I was about to become. Warning: this review contains an obscene count of the word adorable. There really is no better word to describe it. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Aleph

Posted by art On May - 31 - 2011

Diego Matamoros. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

The Aleph
Directed by Daniel Brooks
Featuring Diego Matamoros

Runs until June 18 @ The Young Centre for the Performing Arts

By Jen Handley

For all the richly detailed characters and emotionally resonant moments Diego Maramoros creates, the most impressive aspect of his performance in The Aleph is that you’ll believe anything he tells you.

And that’s saying a lot. Matamoros and Daniel Brooks adapted The Aleph from a short story by Jorge Luis Borges, a slow burner that might bring to mind a mid-twentieth century, Argentine version of one of Poe’s ideas. Without giving away too much, it’s safe to say that the play runs into a mind-bending twist, but it gets there so gradually and stealthily you barely recognize how fantastically outrageous it is even when it’s right in front of your nose. Read the rest of this entry »

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