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Archive for the ‘Jessie Davis’ Category

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: Oleanna

Posted by art On February - 6 - 2011

Sarah Wilson and Diego Matamoros. Photo by Bruce Zinger

By David Mamet
Directed by László Marton
Starring Diego Matamoros and Sarah Wilson
Runs February 3 – March 5 @ Soulpepper Theatre

By Jessie Davis

Upon entering the Michael Young Theatre, the asymmetrical, discordant office set reminds the audience that nothing is what it seems. In keeping with this theme, we’re introduced to the professor and his student. Unfortunately, these crucial first moments that should give the audience context are instead filled with lines like, “yes, but-” and “can’t you-” that are completely infuriating and disorienting. In fact, it’s doubtful that either character completes a full sentence in the first ten minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

A Curmudgeon’s Nuit Blanche

Posted by art On October - 3 - 2010

Burning Buddha

Continuing in the fine tradition of years past, the MONDOarts department dispatched three writers to cover this year’s Nuit Blanche and their escapades during said event. Enjoy!

By Jessie Davis
Photos by Kevin Lynn

We swore it wouldn’t happen again this year, yet here we were, 11:30 on Saturday night, completely unprepared for the evening. My partner and I also swore we’d go it alone this year so that we wouldn’t be at the mercy of a slow-moving, impatient group, yet somehow found ourselves amidst a gaggle twice the size of the one we traveled with last year. How did this happen? It seems that Nuit Blanche has become more of a chance to socialize and reconnect than a celebration of art – due in no small part, I suspect, to the fact that exhibits are so spaced out that we spend more time wandering around the city chatting than actually seeing art*.

We started at Nathan Phillips Square to see Daniel Lanois’ Later That Night At The Drive-In and arrived just in time to hear three of the new Neil Young tracks he showcased. Standing there surrounded by people in the middle of Toronto’s nucleus, I stood alone, eyes closed, swaying and swooning under Young’s spell. The projections were helpful as we neared the stage and found it nearly impossible to see Lanois but for the mirrored crane-held ceiling showing us a reverse bird’s-eye view of the setup. As Young’s last song finished, Lanois began an ethereal, haunting solo guitar piece before welcoming Trixie Whitley to play and sing some bluesy alt-country tunes with him. A lovely sound, but we were becoming restless. One friend, on his first-ever Nuit Blanche adventure (and having more experience at electronic music festivals) joked, “Where’s the techno tent?” and a few moments later, we began to make out the dull thud of bass from a location just north of us that begged investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotiabank CONTACT 2010: Persuasion of Men

Posted by art On May - 9 - 2010

Brian, by Drasko Bogdanovic (via CONTACT).

Persuasion Of Men
Drasko Bogdanovic
GRASP Erotica Bar (543 Yonge St., Level 4)
Runs May 7–31

By Jessie Davis

In our culture where sex sells most everything and “sexy” is generally portrayed as a smooth, slim, attractive woman, the male body has often been disregarded and even censored. In fact, it is probably the last remaining taboo in mainstream film and television. Drasko Bogdanovic stares down this taboo with his camera lens, creating his series Persuasion of Men (see YouTube preview here, potentially NSFW) to encourage the audience’s curiosity about the male form, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

It’s difficult to move into this gender and preference-neutral territory, however, given that the show itself is housed in a re-purposed former bathhouse on the outskirts of Church and Wellesley Village, with gay porn being shown on the television behind the bar. Add to this the fact Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Hush

Posted by art On February - 22 - 2010

By Rosa Laborde
Directed by Richard Rose
Starring Conrad Coates, Vivien Endicott-Douglas, Tara Rosling and Graeme Somerville
Runs February 9 – March 21 at Tarragon Theatre

By Jessie Davis

There are languages we speak in the dark — lovers travelling each other’s landscapes, a child caught in a dream that is both blissful and terrifying.  These are languages we could never reproduce willingly, almost as though they’re waiting inside of us to be tapped at the moment when logic shuts down and we let go of our senses.  It’s the moment when instinct and ancient memory take over and guide us through the darkness until we reach safe harbour.  Rosa Laborde’s Hush has come from this place, appearing as a dream to the playwright and presented as such to the eager audience.

The lines are blurred here between dream and waking life, between Harlem (Graeme Somerville), his daughter Lily (Vivien Endicott-Douglas), his lover Talia (Tara Rosling) and his friend and colleague Andre (Conrad Coates).  Together they ponder the existence of God and debate the concept of a hereafter, all against a backdrop of evolving human relationships and the collective terror or bliss that can accompany those changes. Read the rest of this entry »

Nuit Blanche: An anti-itinerary approach

Posted by art On October - 7 - 2009

Union 1Continuing in the fine tradition of years past, the MONDOarts department dispatched four writers to cover this year’s Nuit Blanche and their escapades during said event. Enjoy!

By Jessie Davis
Photos by Kevin Lynn

Our Nuit Blanche group stood divided; half wanted to follow THE PLAN – an itinerary detailing exactly where to be and when, with bike routes, little red points on the map and brief installation descriptions for further reading. The other half was on a more freestyle mission:  no plan, no time frame, no commitments. Just synchronicity and spiritually altering experiences. I was part of the latter.

From Queen, my group flowed north on Bay Street, where we met the itinerary half of our group in line to see Battle Royal in the bus terminal. The line stretched around the terminal onto Edward Street, and while it seemed to move quickly, our half of the group decided to keep moving in search of The Blinking Eyes of Everything at the Church of the Holy Trinity. In fact, this was what had inspired us to let our Nuit Blanche guide itself. A few of us had been discussing stroboscopic machines recently (also known as Dream Machines), and were really excited to get to see and hear one in real life, so soon after the seemingly-random conversation. Alas, this line wove back a few rows across the courtyard and my group just couldn’t sit still long enough to make it in there – even if there was the possibility of divinatory visions and hallucinations. Read the rest of this entry »

Fry Guy on a Fire Truck: Legoland Reviewed

Posted by art On November - 25 - 2008
Amitai Marmorstein and Celine Stubel in Legoland.

Amitai Marmorstein and Celine Stubel in Legoland.

By Jacob Richmond
Directed by Jacob Richmond and Britt Small
Starring Celine Stubel and Amitai Marmorstein
Runs November 18 – December 6 @ Theatre Passe Muraille

By Jessie Davis

When political and social commentary can be made through the exploration of popular music, the results are strikingly impressive. When the commentary is made by puppeteering, interpretive dancing, gangsta rapping tweens, it’s more than impressive — it’s Legoland.

In just one act, the Lamb siblings (played by Celine Stubel and Amitai Marmorstein) take the audience along for the ride as they metamorphose from happy, home-schooled children living peacefully on a Saskatchewan hippie commune into pill-pushing, boarding-school brats who bus it to Orlando, Florida while strung out on Happy Meals TM.

Throughout the play, Penny and Ezra Lamb share unique societal observations as only children can, using dolls, action figures, and kitchen utensils to explore the superficial nature of the outside world they call “Legoland.” Expecting the towns and people from their research — Penny had read Anne of Green Gables in preparation for their trip to the outside — the Lambs are instead faced with the plasticity and vulgarity of the modern world.

Adapting to an unwelcoming environment can be a shock to the system, and imagining the hostility of the current socio-political climate is enough to make even the most strong-hearted individuals weak in the knees. Imagine then, being kept from all of this, sheltered and nurtured all of your life and then being thrust into the real world at the worst possible time: the teen years. Penny and Ezra just can’t seem to adjust; their peers label them freaks (and in Penny’s case, the class “feminazi” lesbian). Their teachers suggest psychiatric help. The psychiatrists prescribe cocktails of pills.

The only thing that keeps Penny going is her love for Johnny Moon, one-fifth of the boy band 7-Up. Her discovery and description of music as universal comforter brings you back to the moment in your formative years when that one song changed your life and made everything make sense, when you could feel the ache of every other human soul who’d ever felt the same way, the commonality of rhythm, melody and lyric.

When the band splits up and Johnny releases a gangsta rap album as “JK-47,” Penny sets off to find him, Ezra in tow, to tell him he’s making a huge mistake. Selling their prescription meds to fuel their trip, the siblings travel by Greyhound from Saskatchewan to Florida, singing and dancing their way through the story of each stop on the route and the toy inside each McMeal along the way. Fry Guy on a fire truck amuses Ezra to no end. In Texas, however, he is mystified by his junior NRA membership.

After the laughably disturbing meeting of the Lambs and JK-47, Penny explains the intensity of her passion: “love is the closest we can ever get to someone else.  It’s the closest we can ever get to being someone else.” The nature of love is multi-faceted, each shimmering corner sending blinding rays in every direction. Lovers, friends, siblings: no two people will ever love each other in exactly the same way. Penny and Ezra demonstrate this multitude of possibilities for human connection so well because of their inability to connect with others in the outside world. They must be each other’s confidant, rule-maker, nurturer, cheerleader, and voice of reason; they stand behind one another no matter what.

In all its dark humour, Legoland manages to reveal society for the surreal house of mirrors it is, and expose the absurdity of what is considered normal — all in a sing-song, vaudevillian style that bewilders and thoroughly entertains right until the very end.



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