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Showing posts from July, 2015

FringeTO: The Women of Tu-Na House Deserve a Warm Welcome

Even in death, Nancy Eng's beloved cat lives on. Eng conceived The Women of Tu-Na House as a therapeutic medium to cope with the loss of her  pet after their nineteen year relationship. The piece has since evolved from its three actor stage to a solo show that has played to appreciative audiences in the US and now Canada, thanks to the Toronto Fringe Festival.

Exploring the private world of sex and massage trade workers, Tu-Na House focuses on the lives of several women and one man. The stories are varied and fascinating, and Eng plays them all with the individuality and clarity that is demanded of a solo show. With the ring of a bell, a quick costume change and interspersed with recorded poetry that lends further insight into the lives of each character, Eng moves from one persona to the next with ease.

All the characters resonate with me, but a personal favourite is the tea server with Peking Opera roots. His reminiscences about his artistic past made me long to hear more abou…

FringeTO: Twelfe Night or What A Romp...

William Shakespeare's Twelfe Night, or What You Will is one of my favourite plays, so naturally it was on my To See list for this year's Fringe. Then, when director Joshua Stodart revealed on my show that they were presenting the play on a thrust stage, I was sold.

It was a packed house tonight at St. Vlads Theatre, and as the actors tread the boards (literally in this case), there was laughter and applause aplenty. The manipulative triumvirate of Sir Toby Belch (Tim MacLean), Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Matt Shaw) and Maria (Andrea Massoud) with the aid of Feste the clown (Jake Vanderham)  generate mirth with their on point line delivery and physical antics as they plot  mischief against the pompous Malvolio (Tal Shulman. The boisterous drunken "riding" scene, for example, induced belly laughs that filled the house.  As for Tal Shulman's Malvolio: priceless. Fooled into thinking
that Lady Olivia (Hilary McCormack) is in love with him, he makes a complete ass of him…

FringeTO: Becoming Burlesque is All Strip And No Tease

I was really looking forward to seeing Becoming Burlesque tonight, anticipating a rowdy titillating experience that I would be sharing  with a Fringe Festival audience--theatre goers who are up for anything; sadly, I have to report that the show just did not work.

Right away, upon walking into the Al Green Theatre, I wondered why director, Jackie English had decided to place action in the pit while the stage remained bare. In my seat near the back of the theatre, I was even more at a loss because I couldn't hear the pre-show dialogue that was happening in the pit/dancers' backstage dressing room. It was the equivalent of a cell phone call cutting in and out. As the house lights came down and the spotlight came up on the stage, I felt relieved that backstage was going to be just that--an area where the dancers would go after performing. Well, I was partiality right: they used the stage for the dances, but there was action in the pit as well. My guess from what I could pick up …

FringeTO: Waiting For Alonzo

As the title suggest, Waiting For Alonzo references Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, the mid-Twentieth Century absurdist play in which two characters endlessly anticipate the arrival of a third party.

Starring Victoria Urquhart as Doctor Zanita,  Hayley Malouin as Bielke and Kevin Chew as Andre, Waiting For Alonzo is set in a future where pollution and climate change has destroyed planet Earth and all that appears to be left of the home world are these three characters drifting through space: two human women, a scientist whose lust to create perfection has lead her to regenerate her body parts to the point where they barely function; her desperately lonely sycophantic assistant, and a sexy humanoid mainframe who runs the spacecraft.

Victoria Urquhart demonstrates an adeptness at physical comedy in the stilted movements of her character's vain attempts to defy age and gravity. Her robotic antics are displayed at their humorous best when, without the aid of Bielke, she has t…

FringeTO: My Thoughts on "A Nurse's Worst Nightmare"

I kicked off the Toronto Fringe Festival with Zabrina Chevannes's "A Nurse's Worst Nightmare." The comedian and nurse, who hosts and produces a regular show, "Things Black Girls Say" at the Comedy Bar, took an intimate audience at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace through the trials and tribulations of her life. The best part of the show is her imitation of her Jamaican father. "You called the wrong Black man!" is his response to a paying $30, 000 to get his son released from a Mexican jail. As a comedian, Chevannes shares with us the fact that she can't help but put these things in her show because while they are negative, they are just so bizarre that her comedian brain automatically saves them for her stand-up routine. This stance on sharing even includes such elements as the heartbreak of dealing with a husband whose mental illness changed the dynamics of their marriage to racist elderly patients who "don't like" people l…