Reviews

  • Jayson McDonald wowed audiences at last year’s Fringe with his hit Giant Invisible Robot. By the time I decided to go see it, the shows were sold out. This year, I made sure Boat Load was one of the first I checked out. I made a wise choice because he has another hit on his hands.

    As a cat person myself, I was drawn to the plight of protagonist Gary, the struggling local actor with a very sick feline on his hands. And he’s broke. Through a series of scenes involving the people in Gary’s life (including a slacker friend,...

    Boat Load, exciting and new, come aboard we're expecting you.
  • Does anyone remember indie director Gus Van Sant's 1998, shot-by-shot, remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho?

    No, I didn't think so. But when it was released almost forty years after the original many film critics were scratching their heads and asking the same question: why bother? Van Sant couldn't improve on the original, so what was the point?

    One might ask the same question about Long's Hill Theatre's production of Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia. A deeply personal monologue, "Cambodia" was Gray's baby; it won him an Obie, a National Book Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. A film adaptation of the...

    Swimming to Cambodia: an exercise in why?
  • The Play:
    The Skinny Presents: Adventures In X-Ray Theatre, written and performed by Vancouver-based Jackie Blackmore, Michael John Unger and Darren Williams. They did not wear pants throughout their show - unlike the panel of reviewers you are about to meet.

    The Panel:
    Mike Vardy is a Victoria-based writer and performer who co-founded local sketch comedy troupe The 30 Cent Players. He is also behind Effing The Dog, a popular website that pokes fun at personal productivity.
    Paul McKinnon is currently a member of The 30 Cent Players, and is a veteran writer/performer...

    They're skinny and they don't like to wear pants.
  • A war. The sacrifice of a mother’s first born. The murder of a son protecting his sister. A love in exile. The disgrace of a noble general. Titus Andronicus starts off with enough conflict and blood in the first scene to have you checking for daggers in your own back.

    The first thing you see when entering the theatre is a French maid wiping the blood from the floor. It sets the tone for this bloodier-than-Macbeth piece. And if brutality and murder is to your liking, you will have your pie and eat it, too with this Bard on the...

    What's for dinner? Titus Andronicus: Jennifer Lines, Russell Roberts, Julien Galipeau, Bob Frazer; Photo: David Blue
  • In Metamorphoses Theatre Company's production of Chicago playwright Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses (based on Ovid’s myths of the same name), the ten actors constantly circle into and out of pool of waist-high water - a backyard children's pool edged with stairs and a faux-stone "deck" that functions as the stage.

    When bodies on stage have to deal with physical elements like wind orheat or water, they move differently, which changes the baseline forhow a story can be communicated. In this case the actors bodies -almost continuously wet – demand attention and don't easily fall backinto a neutral stance, and I enjoyed that...

    Pomona (Michelle Kim) caught in a moment of doubt. Photo: Alan Katowitz
  • (never underestimate) The Power, presented by One Reed Theatre and directed by Paul Thompson, is constructed from a series of monologues/vignettes created by writer-performers, Evan Webber, Frank Cox-O’Connel and Megan Flynn. An exploration of how three different characters were effected by and perceived the August 2003 Blackout (never underestimate) The Power, is set on Toronto’s Queen Street West on the day the power went out.

    The three characters – a directionless young man, a disenchanted factory worker and a Queen West chanteuse – share their perspectives on the world, their place in it and some scattered views on the “End...

    (never underestimate) the power of story-telling.
  • Why Not Theatre’s  I’m So Close It’s Not Even Funny is an exceptional piece of theatre but it’s difficult to write about as a whole because it contains so many different parts and pieces and so many different styles and ideas. The experienced company consisting of Katrina Bugaj, Troels Hagen Findsen and Ravi Jain created the piece and perform it with vigor, ease and delight.

    There is one through line with a paranoid and Groucho-stooped man, Bob (Jain), whose only companion seems to be his goldfish Max – played by an actual goldfish in a bowl. Bob has conversations with...

    I'm So Close It's Not Even Funny: what time is it again?
  • Frieda has Alzheimer’s or some similar memory-impairment – her nephew, Matthew, is a drug-addicted beggar who is probably homeless – they meet every Friday in a park, or they’re supposed to but Matthew has stopped showing up or maybe never showed up (it’s not quite clear) – he makes these arrangements by phone –

    now, some clean-cut guy named Frank, who’s in acquisitions in some tall tower (don’t you love it when playwrights talk business?) has his lunch on the same bench where Frieda uselessly waits for Matthew – Frank takes a shine to Frieda, visits with her at the...

    No picture.
  • Maybe it should be called the Sixth Sense effect. For the third review in a row, I feel obligated to issue a spoiler warning for something that happens in the final reel – er last scene – that impacts on the whole work. Fortunately, there’s no bloodshed involved in the reveal that is meant to unlock meaning in this three-hander.

    Not that there isn’t a death in Ablaze. And it’s not giving anything away to reveal that irreverent, wise-as-the-hills Grannie is about to die because, the whole play is a slightly mawkish deathwatch on the old bird (played well by...

    Ablaze: Rosa Laborde and Jayne Collins play sisters with bite
  • Does the modern world disappoint you at times? Especially when a consumerist society suggests that bought beauty is equal to integrity? Or when liberalism (a big hug to JS Mill) has been subverted by infantilism?

    Does it annoy you that you are part of a culture where people claim all their pleasures (rights) and dodge their pains (responsibilities and misfortunes) while masking their feelings in irony?

    If so, let me refer you to the writings of ancient peoples, who (without the calming distraction of cars, electricity, MP3s and email) sought to explain and account for the terrifying vagaries of the...

    Vaughn Jones & Leslie Brownlee as Eros & Psyche - the perfect couple. Photo: Pink Monkey

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