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Review: The Time of Your Life

Posted by art On March - 23 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Stuart Hughes, Kevin Bundy and Joseph Ziegler. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann.

The Time of Your Life
By William Saroyan
Directed by Albert Schultz
Featuring Douglas John Alan, Derek Boyes, Kevin Bundy, Ins Choi, Tatjana Cornij, Oliver Dennis, Stuart Hughes, John Jarvis, Trish Lindström, Jeff Lillico, Alyson MacFarlane, Abena Malika, Toby Malone, Krystin Pellerin, Gregory Prest, Karen Rae, Brenda Robins, Mike Ross, Michael Simpson, Denzal Sinclaire, Jane Spidell, Brendan Wall, William Webster and Joseph Ziegler
Runs until June 15 @ Soulpepper

By Jen Handley

In 1938, The Time of Your Life, which is being remounted at Soulpepper this month after a successful run two years ago, was first performed, it won a Pulitzer Prize. To a public that had just undergone the Great Depression and was gearing up for World War II, playwright William Saroyan offered a celebratory portrait of mid-century American culture, set within the secure confines of a friendly bar, with representation from almost every type of beloved stock character in the book and ending in a quiet affirmation of the States’ righteous military strength. Soulpepper’s choice to produce The Time of Your Life for contemporary audiences is an interesting one, and the performers bring a lot of intelligence and passion to the show. However, The Time of Your Life often wobbles on the line between nostalgia and schmaltz, and I can’t help but think that it must have been a lot more poignant when ideas like “prostitutes deserve compassion” and “capitalism can result in theft” were juicier propositions. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Nohayquiensepa

Posted by art On March - 20 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

L-R: Chris Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Mayahuel Tecozautla, Beatriz Pizano. Photo: Katherine Fleitas

Nohayquiensepa (No one knows): A Requiem for the Forcibly Displaced
Directed and designed by Trevor Schwellnus
Choreographed by Olga Barrios
Featuring Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Lilia Leon, Victoria Mata, Beatriz Pizano, Chris Stanton and Mayahuel Tecozautla
Sound design by Thomas Ryder Payne, Costumes by Andjelija Djuric
Runs until March 27 @ The Theatre Centre

By Kerry Freek

For just under an hour last Tuesday, audiences plunged into a purgatory inhabited by victims of corruption, both dead and alive, in a place of confusion and terror.

Inspired by violence in a Colombian river town and reports on the activities of Canadian mining conglomerates, Aluna Theatre’s Nohayquiensepa is a tattered eulogy expertly layered with dance, theatre, projection and sound. It premiered last week at The Theatre Centre. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: More Fine Girls

Posted by art On March - 13 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Severn Thompson. Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann

More Fine Girls
Presented by Theatre Columbus and Tarragon Theatre
Written by Jennifer Brewin, Leah Cherniak, Ann Marie-MacDonald, Alisa Palmer and Martha Ross
Directed by Alisa Palmer
Set and costume design by Judith Bowden
Lighting design by Andrea Lundy
Runs until April 3 @ Tarragon Theatre

By Daina Valiulis

Creating and performing with a group of women you have known very well for a long time is a risk–especially when the result is built out of recorded improvisations that are eventually sewn together to create the patchwork of the finished piece. This challenge defines More Fine Girls, the reunion of the Fine sisters: eldest, Jojo (Martha Ross), middle child, Jayne (Ann-Marie MacDonald) and youngest Jelly (a role created by Leah Cherniak, but performed by Severn Thompson). As the follow up to 1995’s hit The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls, this show has the sisters facing each other 20 years later. In The Attic, the Fine sisters fight as they make their way to the attic of their parents’ house after the death of their father. Now, we find them trying to deal with each other as they face off in the basement. Read the rest of this entry »

I Am Number Four Reviewed

Posted by film On March - 10 - 20114 COMMENTS

I Am Number Four
Director: DJ Caruso
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron
Dreamworks SKG, 2011

So apparently this is based on a book or something?  I had no idea and had never heard of it before it existed in movie form, but I did become suspicious when they ending was left so wide open you could drive a fleet of sequel trucks through it.  I’m somewhat curious about the book now, if only to discover if it’s as badly written as the movie.  I need to know which writers to throw constructively critical bricks at.*

Anyhoo, I Am Number Four is a sci-fi alien movie that has a mini-crush on Twilight.  There are nine refugee alien children on our planet, you see, on the run from the other aliens who exterminated their species.  You can tell the refugee aliens are “good” because they look exactly like humans (except, you know, impossibly good looking) and that the other aliens are “evil” because they look like giant tiger shark-people in black overcoats.  The nine kids, now teenagers, each have their own protector to keep them safe until they reach adulthood, at which point the children will gain awesome super-powers.

This is handy, because the protectors don’t seem to have any powers whatsoever, unless you count getting the crap beat out of them whilst holding blue-glowing mini-scimitars.  One of them even gets beaten up by a couple of fat computer nerds, for God’s sake.  Anyway, for reasons that are never explained, the nine are being killed in a specific order.  So when Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) has a vision confirming that Number Three is dead, he knows he is next on the Big Mean Alien Hit List.  Immediately he and his protector (Timothy Olyphant) flee, with their hunters in pursuit. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Are You Okay

Posted by art On March - 8 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Michael Healey and Peggy Baker. Photo: John Lauener

Are You Okay
Peggy Baker Dance Projects, in association with Necessary Angel
Choreographed by Peggy Baker
Written by Michael Healey
Performed by Peggy Baker and Michael Healey
Directed by Daniel Brooks
Runs until March 13 @ Factory Studio Theatre

By Tina Chu

Described as a kinetic conversation and a mutual autobiography in space, Are You Okay is a continuous, hour-long, physical and verbal dialogue created and performed by Peggy Baker and Michael Healey, which ponders, like an unending late night debate, irresolvable questions surrounding human faculty, artistic creation and its significance.

Matching bare thoughts with minimal set, the performance is witty and candid, fortunately lacking the kind of austerity and aloofness that could easily swallow up such dissections of artistry. Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #96: March 2, 2011

Posted by Comics On March - 6 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Brightest Day #21
Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi (w), Patrick Gleason, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado (p), Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, Norm Rapmund, Christian Alamy (i), Peter Steigerwald, Nathan Eyring (c). DC Comics.

Someone reminded the writers of Brightest Day that it was close to wrapping up, so they had to actually do stuff with issues. There was definitely a lot of filler here — I bet this whole series could have been distilled into an excellent 12 issues (unquestionably so if they dropped some of the weaker story arcs — like the Hawkmen story at least!). That said, it wouldn’t be Brightest Day, and it really wouldn’t be Geoff Johns, without a bunch of epic splash pages.

There are three two-page and one single-page splash images making up the high points of the story. I can just imagine an orchestra conductor swinging wildly at these moments (uh, that’s if this story was a movie I guess… uh, with an orchestrated score), and like that conductor, I’m tired!

The big splash image, when used appropriately, is the high point of the issue — it’s what makes the comic make sense, but we’re zigzagging all along here. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: Ross Bonfanti

Posted by art On March - 6 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

This weekend, we talked with Ross Bonfanti, one of the artists taking part in The Artist Project Toronto (March 3-6) at the Queen Elizabeth Building on the Exhibition grounds.

What draws you to toy parts? They’re often used as a medium for your pieces.

Toys symbolize innocence, youth and generally in some way prepare us for some aspect of adulthood. The use of doll heads in particular is a way of representing the universal anybody.  The way I distort them symbolizes people’s own particular perception of reality.

You also use concrete. Why?

Not only do I like concrete for its aesthetic qualities, I like to use it as a symbol of an urban existence. It is heavy, cold, and in its liquid form can be manipulated into a multitude of things. Read the rest of this entry »

L’ Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres performs Tom Waits
Presented by The Theatre Centre
March 2-5, 2011. 7:30pm. 1087 Queen Street West.

By Miles Baker

If you’re a Tom Waits fan living in Toronto, it’s time to face a harsh reality—with each passing day it’s less and less likely that we’re going to get the chance to see him live. With that in mind, I suggest you go see L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres Performs Tom Waits. It’s not the man himself, but it’s his spirit and his songs manifested before you with great joy and imagination.

L’Orchestre d’Hommes-Orchestres are a Quebec-based, self-described multidisciplinary workshop. The group, composed of Bruno Bouchard, Jasmin Cloutier, Simon Drouin and Simon Elmaleh (and joined onstage by the New Cackle Sisters, Gabrielle Bouthiller and Danya Ortman), began as a music ensemble but has gone onto incorporate elements of theatre in their performances.

I’m just going to throw this out there because it will bug Waits purists—four French Canadians sing and talk in the style of Tom Waits. Their accents peak through as they tell Waits-esque stories and jokes. I was skeptical at first, but works for me as a celebration of Waits rather than just a lame imitation. Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Dow as Leigh Bowery in Of A Monstrous Child: a gaga musical. Photo by Alistair Newton.

By Jen Handley

In keeping with Buddies’ “Sublime Outcast” motif this season, many of the pieces produced at the 32nd Rhubarb Festival these past two weeks over explore the challenges of claiming and defining your identity, especially when you’re a repressed farmer’s daughter or a fugitive in an totalitarian fantasyland or Lady Gaga.

Godwin’s Law is an extraordinarily complete portrait of deeply religious person living in secular culture, but both the play and the character have a dark and outlandish streak that isn’t completely visible until the very last word.  The play is also extremely funny, in large part thanks to Claire Calnan’s subtle and increasingly anxious performance.

Run Like Hell is a two-man Dadaist (or at least Dada-ish) piece that cuts from idea to idea as quickly as possible.  Beginning with an intricately-worded speech muttered by a man who claims to have met God and to have learned how to “save all mankind—you ladies too,” it goes on to tells the story of a world traveler constantly on the run. Read the rest of this entry »

X is for X-Factor

Posted by Comics On March - 2 - 20111 COMMENT

The Alpha Review

By Andrew Uys

I’ve heard that trade paperbacks — a run of comic issues collected into a graphic novel — are all the rage today. But which ones are worth your time? This column aims to put the spotlight on the spectacular trades — at least according to this writer. And just for fun, we will start with the letter “A,” and each subsequent review will follow with the next letter of the alphabet. While you might object to my taste or my opinion, I hope that this column will help save you time and money when you are next buying a trade paperback, as well as effort in alphabetizing.

X is for X-Factor Vol. 1: The Longest Night
Peter David (w), Ryan Sook and Dennis Calero (a). Marvel Comics, 2007.

The third”volume” of X-Factor, this series has a much darker, noir edge to both the storylines and the art style than the first two. Spinning directly out of the events of House of M and Decimation, the comic focuses on Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) re-establishing the team as a private investigation agency. Returning members include Guido (Strong Man), and Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane). New additions to the roster are M (Monet), Siryn, a recently de-powered Rictor, and the enigmatic Layla Miller. And while the team’s primary focus is discovering the cause of the Decimation, the title’s more gritty, street-view perspective, makes this series a truly different read from other X-comics. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Denise Liu

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, Vol.1:
Pterror over Paris & The Eiffel Tower Demon

Jacques Tardi (w+a), Fantagraphics, 2010 English translation.

Originally published as Adele et la Bete, and Le Demon de la Tour (1976, Sud-Orient).

Read if you like: mystery, adventure epics, dinosaurs, French fiction, anti-heroes, comparing the book to the movie, carriages careening off bridges.

It’s said that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I guess we all need to be reminded that ugly people also have worth, feelings, a soul yadda yadda, but the relation just doesn’t stick for me. As an ugly person, I am offended that anyone would even presume that I have a soul. Quit looking for my redeeming qualities!

Sincerely now, the quality of a book’s cover design is absolutely crucial to piquing my interest while I’m browsing for the next read. Is anyone else here a sucker for Chip Kidd’s work? He had nothing to do with this book but, it seems that from the other reviews I’ve read, one look at this cover might tip you off as to whether or not you’ll like the Adele Blanc-Sec stories. It’s an 18th-century French woman with a pistol taking on a charging pterodactyl, for crying out loud — either you’re already appreciating the parody of adventure comics, or you’re going home… or back to the uggies’ corner (totally not judging). Read the rest of this entry »

MONDOcomics #95: February 23, 2011

Posted by Comics On February - 25 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

Amazing Spider-Man #655
Dan Slott (w), Marcos Martin (a), Muntsa Vicente (c), Marvel Comics.

I heard an interview with Dan Slott on World Balloon today in which he said that Amazing Spider-Man #655 was the best thing he had ever written. After reading it… fair enough, this is a phenomenal book. Starting out as a tribute to a recently-departed character the book evolves to become a monument to Peter’s guilt. It works very well and gives us a great sense of the weight that Peter is always carrying inside him. There are plenty of nods to the character’s long history, but not in a way that that I felt overwhelmed (despite only having read the book for the last couple of years). At the end, though, the character comes to a decision that makes the issue feel like it was building to something, rather than just wallowing.

What puts this issue over the top, though, and what makes it one of my favourite issues of Amazing Spider-Man EVER (I’m not exaggerating) is Marcos Martin’s artwork. It perfectly captures the melancholy feel of the story while at the same time feeling lush and beautiful. The opening sequence shows how even a place as familiar as one’s home can suddenly feel sad and lonely after the loss of a loved one. In fact, the sequence reminds me quite a lot of Chris Ware’s work, another artist that can bring out the sadness of everyday rooms. There’s one double-page spread that I expect is going to get most of the attention from this issue, and with good reason. You’ll know it when you see it, since it’s jaw-dropping. I keep turning back to look at it again and again. Read the rest of this entry »



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