Wednesday, 31 August 2011

TIFF is Coming!

Buying one or two tickets to the Toronto International Film Festival? Well, mark your calendars! These tickets go on sale on September 3rd.

By Phone: 416-599-8433 or 1-888-599-8433
In Person: Metro Centre, 225 King Street West (underground Concourse level)
On-line: (follow the links)

NB: VISA is the only credit card accepted by TIFF.

Image courtesy of:

Friday, 19 August 2011

ONE: A Rose-ie Winner at SummerWorks

When I took this picture with director, Eric Rose, we had no idea that he would win an award at SummerWorks. Congratulations, Eric!

SummerWorks Award Winner!
Canadian Stage Award for Direction

Sponsored by The Canadian Stage Company, this $500 cash prize is awarded for an outstanding piece of direction at the Festival: Eric Rose for ONE.

For a list of other award recipients, please visit:

Friday, 12 August 2011

SummerWorks Reviews: Hot Marmalade and Social Work

Mr. Marmalade
SW Description:
Comparable to an episode of Rugrats on LSD, Mr. Marmalade centres around Lucy, age four, and her abusive relationship with her imaginary friend, a violent, sex-obsessed drug addict. The play examines children pressured into adult situations. Our site-specific production takes audiences on the opposite journey, inside the walls of a kindergarten classroom.

Cast: David Storch, Amy Keating, Katherine Cullen, Sebastien Heins, Ishai Buchbinder, Jason Chinn, Producer: Simon Bloom, Designer: Jon Grosz, Audience Guide/Stage Manager: Ava Jane Markus.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars
My Review: Four year old Lucy knows too much about the sully side of adult life. Her vocabulary is full of phrases she has obviously overheard, and her adult imaginary friend, Mr. Marmalade (David Storch) is a manifestation of what she has absorbed. Absurd and heartbreakingly funny, we laugh at the well-acted performance of Amy Keating (Lucy) as we follow her character around a classroom filled with childish displays of innocence that are in stark contrast to Lucy's worldliness. There were a few times when the audience is forced to move too quickly from place to place and there needs to be more adult-sized seats for those with mobility issues, but for the most part, I appreciated the staging and thoroughly enjoyed this biting satire. Warning: This is an adult play with adult language.

Remaining Performances
St. Mary Catholic School.
20 Portugal Square (one block North of King and Bathurst).
Kindergarten Room 219.
Saturday August 13th 3:00 PM

SW Description: Three overwhelmed Children's Aid workers fight a hopeless battle against an ever-growing stack of cases. To catch up, they speak in truncated language, piling new thoughts upon unfinished ones, only to get stuck even deeper in the pitfalls of paragraphs, moral obligation, failed judgment and hidden self-interests. Borders between clients and caretakers begin to blur.
Cast: Ese Atawo, Miranda Calderon, Jacklyn Francis Set & Costume Designer: Ashley Corley Sound Designer: Lyon Smith

My Rating: 4/5 Star
My Review: Truncated lines reflect the fractured work and lives of the three social workers, and the broken world of their clients. A set cluttered with laundry and hanging newspaper enshroud the women further signifying an eternal Sisyphean connection between the two worlds. Unexpected humour helps to break up the tragic tone of the piece. Wonderful performances by a very talented cast.

Remaining Performances
Lower Ossington Theatre
Saturday August 13th 2:00 PM
Sunday August 14th 4:30 PM
August 4 - 14th
Various venues
Single Tickets $15
Box Office: 416.504.7529

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

SummerWorks Review: 5 Stars for This Greek ONE


SW Description: The events of the play surround two characters. One is a 23-year old Greek waiter named George who has a confidence issue when it comes to a girl he likes. The other is a 15-year old Greek kid named Kostas D.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Review: It was fun spending some time listening to the boys and men of the Danforth talk about cars, women, haircuts. They talk of borders as if they live in a world outside of Toronto, a world in which Greek culture comfortably flourishes with its sense of community, but also confines with its traditions. The cast is larger than needed (the female roles could easily have been played by one actress, for example), and the character of George is not well-acted, but I loved the actor who played Kostas, and enjoyed seeing this Toronto story on a mainstream stage.

Remaining Performances
Factory Studio
Friday August 12th 5:30 PM
Saturday August 13th 3:00 PM
Sunday August 14th 8:00 PM

SW Description:
A retelling of the Orpheus myth from his dead bride’s point of view.
My Rating: 2/5 Stars
My Review: I was really looking forward to seeing this play, unfortunately, it was a disappointment. There is nothing wrong with Sarh Ruhl's writing, but this staging of it has some rough spots. In this version of the myth, Eurydice is portrayed as a girlish young woman with a high pitched voice. I don't know why Kristina Nicoll directed Caitlin Driscoll to use this style of voice, but I found it irritating and distracting from the story. There is a fine line between portraying Eurydice as a naive young woman easily seduced by the Lord of the Underworld and depicting her as a girl. Further, the chemistry between Driscoll's Eurydice and Justin Rutledge's Orpheus is lukewarm, resulting in only a mild interest in their doomed love. Driscoll is at her best with actor, Hardee T. Lineham (Father). Lineham's performance is the strongest of the castmembers, exhibiting a profound sense of fatherly love for Eurydice and a touching determination to help her navigate the Underworld. The choral trio of the Stones add humour to the plot, but the actors lack the comic timing that should have made this trio into the scene stealers they were obviously meant to be.

Remaining PerformancesPasse Muraille Mainspace
Wednesday August 10th 8:00 PM
Friday August 12th 10:30 PM
Saturday August 13th 12:30 PM

SW Description: A critically-acclaimed theatre sensation. One is a visually stunning re-imagining of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth that follows the desperate journey of Philistine; a librarian whose devoted search for a lover ‘lost at sea’ takes her beyond the living world and into the strange and all-consuming world of the dead.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars
My Review: In contrast to Eurydice, ONE is a well-staged dance drama that captivates the eyes and the ears. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with viewing a work that achieves success on many creative levels. Amber Borotsik and Cole Humeny have the chemestry that makes us understand why Eurydice would want to go to the Underworld in search of her true love. The clever use of the record player as a keeper of memories, and the wonderful banter between Borotsik and Keith Wyatt as Charon is smartly and rhytmically staged. Rather than list everything I enjoyed about this interpretation of the piece I will simply urge you to buy a tickets and list thank the team for their excellent work by listing them all here.

Company: REDtoBLUE Performance
Playwright: Jason Carnew
Director: Eric Rose
Cast: Amber Borotsik, Cole Humeny, Kristi Hansen, Keith Wyatt
Associate Lighting Designer/Stage Manager: Lester Lee
Sound Designer: Matt Waddell,
Production Design: Snezana Pesic.

Remaining Performances
Factory Studio
Thursday August 11th 10:00 PM
Saturday August 13th 3:00 PM
Sunday August 14th 5:00 PM

SummerWorks Info/Tickets


Monday, 8 August 2011

SummerWorks Review: Hurray for The Trolley Car

Trolley Car
SW Description: In German-occupied Paris, impulsive Florence is drawn into a tempestuous love triangle with her husband’s cousin Inez. Originally commissioned and premiered by Solo Collective from Vancouver, this sleek three-hander presents a boldly theatrical look at the choices we make during frightening times—and our complicity in the events that follow.

My Rating: ****½ 4.5/5 Stars

My Review:
The familiar plot of the love triangle is given a refreshing polish by Amiel Gladstone’s script which offers the right amount of levity in apposition to the serious nature of the play. Gladstone may have borrowed some dialogue and the character of Inez from Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit, but this does not diminish the fact that The Trolley Car is Gladstone’s creation.

Monica Dottor hooks the audience from the very moment she steps onto the stage as Florence. Dottor’s vocal and facial inflections express perfectly Florence’s attraction to a life of parties and passion as well as the weighty consequences of her decisions. As Florence’s seductress, Rosa Laborde’s Inez is a shadowy woman who is both sultry and icy. As for Matthew Tappscott, it is not easy to play an ordinary man, a butcher with no significant high or low notes, but far from disappearing into the background, Tapscott’s stage presence makes his character memorable in a play dominated by the two women.

The set piece consisting mainly of rail ties visually reinforces the interconnectedness of the three characters and is a constant reminder of the theme of choice, a question that runs throughout the play. Kudos to the production team for creating a sound and lighting design that moves with Gladstone’s script and characters.

I took a chance on seeing this play because director, Ruth Madoc-Jones was attached to the project. My faith in Madoc-Jones’ strength as a director and her knack for choosing good work paid off with this brilliant three-hander.

Remaining Shows:
Factory Studio
Wednesday August 10th 5:30 PM
Saturday August 13th 12:30 PM
Sunday August 14th 10:00 PM

SummerWorksAug. 4th - 14th

Sunday, 7 August 2011

SummerWorks Reviews: Long Dark Night, Dancing, Still Life

SW Description: A film noir musical comedy set in the red light district of an anonymous city, Long Dark Night follows one night in the life of philandering alcoholic private detective Skip Tracer as he becomes entangled with the beautiful but dangerous Femme Fatale.

My Rating: Play *** 3/5 stars; Actress, Jessica Moss ***** 5/5 stars

My Review: Jessica Moss is the best reason to see this play. She is perfect in the role as Irene Pffeffener, the secretary in love with her drunken, not so bright, private dick boss, Skip Tracer (John McNeill). Moss has the right cadence for her 1940’s Gal Friday character and a good singing voice. Her comic timing and wonderful chops brings the right comic timing and vocal ability to the show’s first song, “Good For You”, an internal monologue in which she expresses her love for Tracer. Moss dominates her duet with Colin Murphy’s Frankie, a shady insurance man. Perhaps a body mic would help Murphy project beyond the front row of Theatre Passe Muraille, but his lyrics were lost to anyone further back. With songs that reveal character and further the plot, Murphy’s lack of vocal range has a negative impact on the play.

Her vocals don’t come in until late in the play, but Julianna Ozorio (Tuesday Mae) has voice has the right smokiness needed to play the role of an aging nightclub owner. Her first song offers up some advice that will never be forgotten. (Title is a spoiler). Besides her ability to sing, Ozorio can also act; she plays the part of a brassy dame with a few years on her like nobody’s business as demonstrated in another great song, “You Don’t Have to Go Home.”

Sonia Linder is adequate as Femme Fatale and there are a couple of scenes later in the play where I connected with her character, but she needed to add more va-va-va voom! to the role of a mysterious woman looking for her missing husband.

John McNeill shows that he has seen a few film noirs himself, parodying the genre’s gumshoes with evident delight. His Skip Tracer is soaked in just the right amount of booze and buffoonery to act as the perfect foil for Moss’s plucky gal friday, Irene.

Marring this amusing little play is the intrusive positioning of the slide projectionist at the back of the stage. Surely there is a better place for her to do scenery changes. Annoying!

Remaining Shows:
Passe Muraille Mainstage
Monday August 8th 8:00 PM
Wednesday August 10tth 10:30 PM
Friday August 12th 5:30 PM
Sunday August 14th 5:30 PM

dancing to a white boy song
SW Description:
3 actors, 3 stories, 3 arts forms…
A multidisciplinary theatrical creation exploring the issues of youth, immigration, culture and the tensions of ‘otherness’, told through the eyes, voices, and bodies of 3 characters through poetry, movement, visual imagery and spoken words.
Inspired by personal stories and experiences of the African immigrant.

My Rating: *** 3/5 stars

div align="justify">My Review: This play succeeds on so many levels that I really wanted to give it more stars. Actors, Simeon Taole, Esther Kamba, Keriece Harris give equally strong performances playing multiple roles, but the description promised 3 main characters and, regrettably, not all three are equally developed. The strongest of the three characters, is that of a young girl struggling to fit into Canadian school culture and dealing with a body that does not look like the other girls. Harris plays this role with versatility, humour and gravity. Taole is convincing in his role as a PHD student whose intelligence is and hyphenated culture is questioned in Toronto and in South Africa. Kamba is superb as the mother of the school girl, but her role as a single woman new to Canada does not offer her enough of a chance to show us who this woman is. This is a shame, since, there is no doubt that Kamba is a talented actor. Program notes suggest that this is a work in progress, so I am hopeful that this character is one that will be augmented in the next incarnation of this project. Maybe at that time I can give it the stars it deserves.

Remaining Shows:
Theatre Centre
Tuesday August 9th 7:30 PM
Thursday August 11th 5:00 PM
Friday August 12th 10:00 PM
Saturday August 13th 12:00 PM

Still Life
SW Description: After an attack, four twenty-something's are confronted with their truth. The experience of that night reveals the joys and struggles of being queer in Toronto today.

My Rating: *** 3/5 stars

My Review: Still Life is a relationship drama about love, infidelity, and queer identity. Steven the cook, (Andrew Aquino) is in a relationship with Matt (Indrit Kaspi), the dancer. Steven cheats on Matt with Andrew the artist and “kept woman”. Alisha Stranges plays Sarah, a woman trying to find her place in the LGBT and straight world; she is also friends with Steven and Matt. Stranges is the best of this quartet, with a natural style that seems effortless. Having seen her twice in two months, I have concluded that I will see anything to which her name is attached.

lemonTree theatre creation has invented a method called “authentic theatre” or ‘authenticism”. One of its eleven step manifesto is to “improvise to rmember whow to listen to one another.” In respect to Still Life, this ability to improvise delivers dialogue and body language that is realistic and for the most part believeable.

The play successfully reminds Toronto dwellers that discrimination against the LGBT community (and any “outsider”) is still present and thriving in our supposedly enlightened city. Safety and freedom of expression are only to be had in certain packets of the city and at certain times of the day. It is refreshing to see this topic espoused by a theatre collective of young people, so that their peers will realize that the battle for human rights is a continuous one.

A hand held light, often passed from actor to actor, highlights scenes of tension and violence, and sex. Stage furnishings of two or three chairs allow for a versatility of scene set-ups and the simple blocking of the actors result in creative use of the small stage. Bathhouse references and sub-themes of shade-ism (Steven is Asian), relationship roles (Andrew is a “kept woman”) and dressing like a “dyke” are nicely woven into the play, lending authenticity to this queer drama.

Where the play stumbles is in the dead-ending of some of the improvised dialogue. At times, lines were tossed but another actor did not run with the ball and the idea was lost. There were also times when actors spoke over one another and neither bothered to clarify what they said, so that the audience could understand what they missed hearing.

Remaining Shows:Theatre Passe Muraille Backstage
Tuesday August 9th 7:00 PM
Thursday August 11th 4:30 PM
Saturday August 13th 9:30 PM
Sunday August 14th 2:00 PM

Saturday, 6 August 2011

SummerWorks Review: Hero & Leander

Company: Common Descent
Lyrics: Wade Bogert-O’Brien, Music: Scott Christian, Book: Kevin Michael Shea
Director: Kevin Michael Shea

Description: Two would-be lovers must overcome the dangerous sea that divides them, and hide their affair from a disillusioned Venus. Common Descent turns ancient tragedy into romantic comedy in this musical about love, sex, and commitment.

My Rating: ** 2/5 Stars

My Review: There is a great story here, but as I watched the play unfold, I concluded that the current version wasn't ready to be told by this ensemble. With the exception of Rob Kempson, who plays Ganymede, a former prince, now love slave/boyfriend of the callous, non-monogamous Neptune, the cast is not strong enough to take the material to the heights and lows the scripts demand. The character of Venus should a Diva of a lush, with more bawdy dialogue than she is presently given. Actress Kimberly Persona tries her best, and her song about love "what is it?" should have brought the house down, but the role is too big for her and the number goes nowhere. Kaitlin Torrance in the role of Hero has a lovely voice and projects well, but she lacks the ebullience needed for the ingenue role. Fraser Elsdon has the athletic body needed for the Leander the lifeguard, but he doesn't sizzle with Torrance's Hero. Neptune, the debauched Olympian looking to foil the budding love between Hero and Leander is competently played by Rick Jon Egan, but in a play with such potential for delightful decadence, competent is just not good enough. this play is an ugly duckling waiting to be a swan.

Factory Theatre Mainspace
Saturday August 6th 7:30 PM
Sunday August August 7th 10:00 PM
Wednesday August 10th 7:30 PM
Friday August 12th 2:30 PM
Saturday August 13th 5:00 PM
Estimated Running time: 75 minutes
August 4 - 14th
Various venues
Single Tickets $15

I was reviewing past coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and realized that as good as it is to use social media, I m...