2009

I tend to veer away from Fringe shows that promise heavier emotional fare, but for some reason I found myself drawn to Doghouse Riley Productions’ staging of Israel Horowitz’s *The Indian Wants the Bronx*. It may be because I’m a sucker for a creative use of venue space, and the alleyway behind Honest Ed’s offered an excellent setting for the visceral one-act play.

Perched on a pile of stacked moving crates, I watched as Murph and Joey, a pair of drunk tough guys happen across Gupta, a lone Indian waiting for a bus on his first day in America. The...

An encounter out back Honest Ed's

The creators of previous Fringe hits _The Bible (Abridged)_ and _The Movies (Abridged)_ are back, this time minus their usual parenthetical. Despite it’s critical acclaim last year I was disappointed with _The Movies_, having found the abridged cinema spoofs to be generally flat and earnest. I thought I’d give the group a second chance with *Killing Kevin Spacey*, based on the assumption that this year they were creating a narrative themselves, rather than just finding excuses to reenact their favourite cinematic moments.

I was half right. Killing Kevin Spacey is about Charlie, a hangdog whipping boy who hates his monotonous...

But Kevin Spacey loves theatre!

After a hugely successful run with Blastback Babyzap in last year’s Fringe and winning the title of Best of the Fest at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival in December, Uncalled For returns to defend its status as one of the most innovative and reliable sketch troupes in the country with *Today Is All Your Birthdays*.

What sets their latest sketch revue apart from the competition is the intelligent and nerdy humour in which it revels - never before have Darwin, the Large Hadron Collider, and the space time continuum been so funny. Uncalled For’s all-male cast (it varies depending on...

Nerdy and intelligent members of Uncalled For

This quirky navel-gazing comedy from writer/director Maya Rabinovitch profiles an ensemble of neurotic characters using the stresses of air travel as a catalyst to extract their inner secrets and demons.

Fragmented monologues reveal the characters true selves in bits and pieces, leaving plenty of room for imaginative and visually attractive staging to compliment the sharp dialogue. Universally vibrant performances from the ensemble work hand in hand with dramatic lighting and a revivalist soundscape to create a surreal dissection of our hyper-anxious world. A polished and colourful work that elicits plenty of laughs along the way.

_I will not Hatch continues...

Justin found these guys universally vibrant.

This "Bard on the Beach":http://www2.bardonthebeach.org/index.html production of *The Comedy of Errors* is polished, breezy, and shamelessly anachronistic – in fact it is larded with unauthorized gags designed to provoke the audience to easy laughter.

In a production where the music of The Doors is juxtaposed against a world of Elizabethan fancy, where Shakespeare and the Devil appear on stage as bit-players, and where characters fight duels with skewers of rat shish-kabob – sold by chorus members with tongues firmly planted in their cheeks – there can be doubt that this is an incarnation of The Comedy of Errors that...

Ryan Beil and Shawn Macdonald, make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh

If the title of Sean Cullen’s mini-tour smacks of straight-faced obviousness, it should. Unlike some star-driven one man shows, there is no hokey pretense on which his presentation hangs, only an opening voice over that is as dramatic as it is obtuse: a fair description of most of Cullen’s material.

The musical comedian, who recently graced the stage of Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre, doesn’t operate on a signature theme or structure, but lets his mind wander into whatever direction it may, only brought back into line for his stage performance by the necessity of segueing into one of his catchy and...

This is the poster that was on paper for the man who is human who put on a show

One of Shakespeare's earliest (and shortest) works, The Comedy of Errors as performed by "Bard on the Beach":http://bardonthebeach.org/ is just a lot of fun. The carnival atmosphere of the Bard Village and the buzz of opening night set the tone perfectly for this comedy directed by David MacKay.

MacKay mixes the classic Elizabethan period with touches of modern song and a commedia dell arte style. His concoction is light, frothy and just the thing for a Vancouver stage where you can look through the set to see a kite dancing in the sky.

Much humour in this play comes...

Bard times two!

Putting ideas ahead of aesthetics when making art can be an interesting exercise. This kind of conceptual art tends to provoke questions about the nature of art, about what makes for good art, and about the boundaries of form and genre. But, if the resulting artwork doesn’t come up with many good answers to the questions it asks, then one has to ask what the point of the exercise is. If an artist isn’t in it for the aesthetics, and doesn’t do a great job of addressing the big questions either, then what is the value of such art? This...

Up on the roof: Fortier and Racine

On Saturday, June 6, *Skin Divers* & *Carmen* brought sexuality to the Four Seasons stage to rival the hottest bedroom. Skin Divers opens the senses to the body’s power to remember, and the mind continues to process it long after curtain. While this multimedia piece is sophisticated and stimulating, Carmen overwhelms audiences during the second half of the evening. This provocative interpretation of the famed opera is an eruption of passions so powerful they cannot be processed, simply absorbed.

*Skin Divers*
Performed by dancers of the German company, Kevin O’Day-Ballett Mannheim, Skin Divers physicalizes the poetry of Toronto-local Anne...

Heather Ogden and Noah Long in Carmen

There's a surprising theme that links this year’s mainstage shows at "Bard on the Beach":http://www.bardonthebeach.org/: twins. They feature in The Comedy of Errors, which opens next week. They also, perhaps unexpectedly, make an appearance in their sleek production of *Othello* directed by Dean Paul Gibson.

Where received wisdom sees Othello and Iago as opposites: the noble warrior versus the scheming underling, Gibson gives us with Bob Frazer an Iago who runs his intrigues not as a lowlife rat but rather like the general he aspires to be. The result is an Iago not as Othello’s opposite but rather his...

Twin Set: Michael Blake and Bob Frazer from Othello, photo by David Blue

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