2009

A young cast gives new life to Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme. This production by The Canadian Opera Company charmed audiences if not critics at the opening April 17 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Director Maer Gronsdal Powell and lighting designer Stephen Ross shoot for understated realism. No special effects or grandiose characters sweep the stage – just a handful of artists, portrayed with controlled naturalism as they try to survive in 1830s Paris. Unfortunately, other aspects of the staging don’t match this down-to-earth vision and realism itself doesn’t fit into Puccini’s melodrama with its the ups...

Frédérique Vézina as Mimì and David Pomeroy as Rodolfo La Bohème; photo: Michael Cooper

David Mamet is often considered the godfather of machismo, his works populated by the manliest men to ever grace stage and screen. The ‘Mamet Man’ is a chest-thumping, fast-talking, swaggering force of nature, and this is never more evident than in his masterpiece *Glengarry Glen Ross*, currently being staged by Toronto’s "Soulpepper Theatre Company":http://www.soulpepper.ca/. In Mamet’s world you’re either predator or prey, and it’s thrilling to watch his characters battle it out to decide which category they fall into.

Director David Storch has a superb cast to attack Mamet’s script about a team of Reagan-era real estate salesmen clawing...

Albert Schultz and Eric Petersen are macho men

In the 1997 film "Sick":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/index.html?curid=1713997, performance artist Bob Flanagan nailed his penis to a board, cracked jokes and urinated on the lens of the camera that was filming him. I saw this excerpt of the film and it made me cringe. But here’s the thing, Bob Flanagan was a sado-masochist who had cystic fibrosis and spent much of his life making art about how he used pain to live with the pain of his disease. Does this make for good art? I’m still not entirely sure, but at least it was purposeful.

Also in 1997, "Gaetan Charlebois":http://www.canadiantheatre.com/dict.pl?term=Charlebois%2C%20Ga%EBtana Montréal...

Pierre-Paul Savoie and Marc Boivin in Mi-un ni d’eux.

This "Ruby Slippers":http://www.rubyslippers.ca/ production of Serge Boucher’s *Life Savers* (translated by Shelley Tepperman) is like a puzzle where the pieces don’t quite fit together. Although the production is super slick, the script itself has the rare distinction of hitting not one but two of my pet peeves. First peeve: shows that purport to be exposés of suburban life that are really just extended, mean-spirited sneers.

I have no particular agenda on behalf of the suburbs, I’ve lived my whole life in cities but my sense is that people who live “out there” are just as capable of complicated, emotional...

Life Savers, families can be murder: Colleen Wheeler, Wendy Morrow Donaldson, Deborah Williams, Maria Oldeen, Mike Wasco, Naomi Wright, Kevin McNulty, Patti Allan

Occasionally, a live theatre piece is so physically and visually stunning that I cannot imagine a better medium for presenting beauty. *Studies in Motion* by the "Electric Company":http://www.electriccompanytheatre.com/ is one of those pieces. The play is an explosive collision of theatre, dance and multimedia centered on historical figure Eadweard Muybridge, a late 19th century photographer who captured the beauty of animals and humans frozen in time.

Written by Kevin Kerr and directed by Kim Collier, the piece tackles both the life and the work of the eccentric Muybridge. With respect to his scientific and artistic work – the investigation...

Studies in Motion: the beauty of theatre

“Is this how artists think of science?” remarked my scientist roommate as we exited the mixed-media show *Dedicated to the Revolutions* by "Small Wooden Shoe":http://www.smallwoodenshoe.org/index.html, “as a series of convenient metaphors to explain life?" The production was founded upon the ambitious manifesto of understanding the effect of scientific progress on our world, and I'd asked my roommate along to contribute his expertise in the field.

Existing in a state of aggressive obliviousness regarding all things science myself, I’d thought a more seasoned perspective might help to interpret this science-based show. Ultimately my anxiety proved baseless; the performers opened the...

Dedicated to the Revolutions, science as understood by artists

At the outset of *News of the World*, a clip from "Flight of the Conchords":http://www.conchords.co.nz/ plays. It is their song _Issues (Think About It)_. It sets the tone for what presumably will be a funny irreverent take on the issues of the world and the news that delivers it to us.

The press release calls it to be topical, in your face and funny. Well it certainly could be all those things had it not been for the over reliance on who shows up in the audience.

You see, *News of World*, produced by "Felix Culpa":http://www.felixculpa.bc.ca/ is not...

David Bloom and Tricia Collins have news of the world

Cancer - a deluded, egotistical ASS - goes on his own journey of denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance when he discovers that the whole world hates him. That's the description of *This is Cancer?* the play that I'm just about to watch.

Yup the big C word, so there's already an air of unease before anything even starts, and when it does start, it does so very eerily. Through a prolonged black out, we sit in silence, just listening to each other breathe and shuffle.

Suddenly we hear a "Hello". A voice speaks to us through the darkness, very off...

Bruce Horak as Cancer

The one-person show can be a tricky format to navigate. The best of them are intimate and unfettered; the worst are akin to being stuck in an elevator with an irritating bore. Toronto presently has two one-person shows on stage that are markedly different in style and content but provide an interesting contrast.

Layne Coleman’s *Tijuana Cure*, playing in the "Passe Muraille":http://www.passemuraille.on.ca/ backspace and based on a real life tragedy, has the unfortunate distinction of being a missed opportunity for the audience to connect with that tragedy, while Joan Macleod’s *Another Home Invasion*, at the "Tarragon Theatre":http://www.tarragontheatre.com/, is...

I hope I look like this at 50, Ivea Lucs in Tijuana Cure; photo: Martha Haldenby

After the thoroughly disappointing touring production of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang":http://plankmagazine.com/review/theatre/chitty-chitty-bang-bang-all-car-..., there is a collective sigh of relief amongst Toronto’s musical fans that "Mirvish Productions":http://www.mirvish.com/ has imported a new production with a great deal more bite. *Spring Awakening* is that toothy show and although it may not wholly live up to the hype of its eight Tony awards, it is still a vibrant and dynamic work that pushes the boundaries of the often doughy musical genre.

Based on the nineteenth century German play of the same name, Spring Awakening tackles the topic of adolescence and all its rebellious...

Finally, a musical for horny teenagers, Spring Awakening

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