Reviews

  • We earn love through time. We’ve all experienced love at first sight or an instant connection with someone but to have a true relationship with another person you need to experience things with them; to share joy, loss, trauma, even redemption. We are creatures of experience and memory.

    What on earth does this have to do with Pelee, a play about some island in Lake Erie? Well, for me the flaw in Pelee is that we are given no real time with the characters who are meant to emotionally anchor the piece. I believe audiences want to fall in love...

    Pelee, don't get too close; photo: Ed Gass Donnelly
  • The Panel:
    Alison Broverman is a playwright and arts reporter. She has a bee block in her backyard.
    Andrew Lamb is a Toronto-based director. You should go see In Darfur, the play he has directed for the Summerworks Festival.
    Daniel Krolik is an actor and man about town.
    The Show:
    The Beekeepers, an apocalyptic two-hander about bees and freezing to death by Jeremy Taylor.

    Alison: Bees! I'm going to betray my bias here - I think bees are fascinating and I'm a sucker for anything with bees in the title, including that dreadful Jerry Seinfeld cartoon...

    The Beekeepers do some decorating, photo: safe solvent
  • It has been a long standing joke among my friends that if I’m serious about getting out of this playwriting gutter, I should write a play about the First World War. Because Canadians of a certain age – the types who have season tickets to regional theatre companies – love the First World War. In response to our aging demographics, I’ve considered moving it up a notch by writing about the Second World War instead.

    The suspicion that theatre patrons of a certain vintage will come out in droves to work tailored to suit them was confirmed by the audience...

    No, it's you.
  • The “one-hander” is a standard of any theatre festival where the budget is slim and the shows are many. Any show that relies entirely on the skill of one performer requires an actor that is at once endearing, fascinating and impressive.

    In Rendezvous with Home, presented by Cric Crac Collective & Sofina Productions, the central personality is performer Djennie Laguerre. She offers all that you hope for in a one-person show: a mixture of classic storytelling styles; some (very light) audience interaction; a display of special skills (including different dance styles and fluency in at least three languages); and a...

    Rendezvous with Home, photo credit: Michael G Pierson
  • *The Panel*
    Alison Broverman is a playwright and arts reporter. She fears a zombie apocalypse most of all.
    Ann McDougall is a playwright and storyteller. She fears nuclear fallout where everyone mutates and slowly dies, but not before they go crazy and kill each other.

    The Show:
    Cozy Catastrophe, an apocalyptic farce from Vancouver theatre company Rumble Productions working in tandem with Theatre Melee. It is being presented as part of the National Series at SummerWorks.

    Ann: This play was so much fun! I worried we might be in for a pretentiously bleak post-apocalyptic drama or a...

    Cosy Catastrophe, Vancouverites bring blood and poop jokes to Toronto.
  • I saw The Emergency Monologues immediately after seeing Talk Sixty to Me. I left that show, which used the words of sixty year olds in a highly mediated-form, wondering if the audience had really felt as if they’d experienced something authentic. If they had, then I wish they’d come next door with me and listened to the stories of Morgan Jones Philips.

    The Emergency Monologues is about the experiences of a Toronto paramedic. Morgan Jones Philips is a Toronto paramedic. Really, he is. And if what he said on the night I saw his performance is true,...

    Trust me, I'm a paramedic, really; The Emergency Monologues; photo by John Philips|
  • So, we all heard about the aborted (pun intended) great Pastor Phelps Project Protest of last week. How the real life Pastor Phelps (the subject of the Pastor Phelps Project by Ecce Homo) and his chums from the Westboro Baptist Church were going to come to Toronto and picket the SummerWorks production only to be turned back at the border.

    The anti-Phelps protest protest went ahead regardless and there’s a great article on the Blog TO website, complete with photos, if you want to know more.

    I hope I’m not alone in being thankful that...

    Get out of my head! Pastor Phelps Project, Carey Wass is Fred Phelps, photo: Alistair Newton
  • The Show:
    The Pastor Phelps Project, which, thanks to the real threats of protest by the Westboro Baptist Church, is the most notorious show at this year’s SummerWorks Festival.

    The Panel:
    Alison Broverman is a playwright and arts reporter with a shameful secret admiration for Tyra Banks.
    Daniel Krolik is a Toronto-based actor.
    Kate Hewlett is a Toronto-based actor and playwright.

    Alison: So THAT'S what Canadian theatre has been missing - live re-enactments of The Tyra Banks Show! Really, why doesn't that happen more? Why doesn't every single SummerWorks show have a...

    The Pastor Phelps Project; Carey Wass as Fred Phelps; photo: Alistair Newton
  • In 1918 Igor Stravinsky wrote a music theatre piece "to be read, played, and danced". The libretto, which is based on a Russian folk tale, was written in French by the Swiss universalist writer C.F. Ramuz. It is a parable about a soldier on leave, who trades his fiddle to the Devil for a book that predicts the future of the economy, a moral tale of greed and punishment.

    Due to the lack of resources available following World War I, the piece was written for a small ensemble of seven musicians and four performers with minimal production costs....

    A Soldier's Story
  • A re-telling of Ovid’s story of Tereus, Philomela and Procne, Groundwater Productions' If We Were Birds opens with Philomela (Tara Rosling) appearing from behind an overturned table. She opens her mouth and blood spills from her lips. The echo of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (which was inspired by the same source story) is unmistakable. Unlike poor Lavinia, Philomela has had her tongue sewn back in so she can tell us her tale.

    And what a tale it is.

    While I admire Titus Andronicus in the same way I might admire a Quentin Tarantino film, I can’t say it’s...

    If We Were Birds

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