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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Going On

On the road less traveled with Elizabeth Richardson

Posted By on Sun, May 20, 2012 at 9:54 AM


The middle of anything can be an exciting place, a vantage point from which to look both backwards and forwards and to make choices about the road ahead. In the one-woman play Going On, actress Elizabeth Richardson braids together vignettes from her years in an intense Buddhist retreat with her early experience as an actress understudying Uncle Vanya and Present Laughter while on tour with Peter O’Toole. It is a meditative journey that converges at the middle point of “now” and hints at what is to come. Richardson is a gifted actress who quietly commands the stage. She brings to life several characters including a comically-cadenced O’Toole and her loving, worried mother who voiced some of my own thoughts about the rigors of the retreat. The scenes from Vanya and Present Laughter are both comical and pertinent to the theme of aging. Going On is an amusing and touching look into one woman’s journey on the road of life.

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Friday, May 18, 2012


You'll fall for this play hook, line and sinker

Posted By on Fri, May 18, 2012 at 9:12 AM


Jeremy Webb is a very good actor whose greatest gift is injecting the characters he plays with his own rakish charm. This charm is much in evidence in his new play Fishing (written by Webb and directed by Alexis Milligan) where he plays a middle-aged divorcee named Paul Fisher who looks for love on an internet dating site. The writing is light and funny and the show features a great performance by Stacy Smith as all seven blind dates and as Fisher’s foul-mouthed, tender-hearted boss. Though the momentum lags a bit in spots making the play seem over-long, it will no doubt gel and compact over time. The set is simple and effective and projections keep the show visually interesting. Fishing contains Webb’s trademark audience participation portion that had an unsuspecting woman become one of his blind dates. Smith and Webb’s off-the-cuff humour and the woman’s game participation was a real highlight.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

I, Animal

Three characters linked by life's big questions

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM


In I, Animal, Daniel MacIvor’s newest work, we’re introduced to three characters: “Man in Scrubs”, “Boy in Hoodie” and “Woman in Prada”. Man is queer and black (Not gay and African American. It’s an important distinction for him). He’s dealing with questions about anger, death and love. Boy is inquisitive and angsty. His issues centre on death and friendship. Woman is privileged and a little shallow. She struggles with friendship and aging. These three never share the stage, have little in common, and presumably don’t know of each others’ existences, yet they are connected to each other, to us and to the greater world by their quest for answers to life’s big (and little) questions. The direct-address monologues perfectly capture the language of each character, and slowly draw us into the complexities of their lives. This play showcases MacIvor’s uncanny gift for unearthing universal themes from quirky, specific characters.

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Cancer as a song and dance man?

This is Cancer uses humour to explore our fear

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2012 at 9:01 AM


I know it’s kind of perverse, but I left This is Cancer feeling a little sorry for the disease. Well, sorry for the disease as imagined by talented funny-man Bruce Horak, who brings cancer to life as a gap-toothed, long-legged, lamé-clad lump. The premise of the show is that cancer believes himself to be beloved, and with all the T-shirts, events and websites with his name on them, why wouldn’t he? When he learns from the audience that he is actually despised, he leaves the stage in a huff with Festival Artistic Director Charlie Rhindress in tow. A very funny argument ensues outside the theatre space, and cancer grudgingly returns. (Probably the only time in history that that’s seen as a good thing!) Cancer is not funny, as Horak himself can attest since he has lost an eye and his father to it, but it is cathartic to laugh at—-and with—-it. Between the song and dance bits there are some very moving moments, making this show both entertaining, thought provoking and surprisingly uplifting.

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