Guys and Dolls

Directed by Donna Feore

Starring Evan Buliung as Sky Masterson, Alexis Gordon as Sarah Brown,  Sean Arbuckle as Nathan Detroit, Blythe Wilson as Miss Adelaide, Steve Ross as Nicely Nicely Johnson  and Beau Dixon as Big Julie

Donna Feore has again proven that no one can match her as the director and choreographer of musical comedy. The dancing, the singing, the costumes and the special effects were all terrific. I loved the switch from the black and white to colour. I loved the dance numbers, especially the strip tease number. And no one will forget the fantastic acrobatics of dancer Devon Michael Brown.

But even this terrific production did not convince me that this is the perfect musical. But if you like Guys and Dolls, you will love this one.

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Twelfth Night

Director – Martha Henry

Cast – Sarah Afful as Viola, Michael Blake as Sebastien, E.B. Smith as Orsino, Shannon Taylor as Olivia, Brent Carver as Feste, Lucy Peacock as Maria, Geraint Wyn Davies as Sir Toby Belch, Tom Rooney as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Rod Beatty as Malvolio.

In contrast to the production of Twelfth Night that we saw at the National Theatre a couple of months ago, this was not Malvolio’s play. Rod Beatty played a character among many others. Instead, this production used all the available talent to great effect. And it certainly had lots of talent to show. The cast list is a who’s who of not just the Stratford company, but of Canadian stars.

Lucy Peacock was a womderful Maria. Geraint Wynn Davies and Tom Rooney were hilarious as the two drunks.  Brent Carver was a wistful obsever Feste.

But the show belonged to Sarah Afful. She lit up every scene she was in. She was sad, she was funny, she was completely delightful. She is definitely one to watch!

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

National Theatre Live

Playwright Tom Stoppard,

Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire as R and G, witha stellar performance by an actor whose name we canno remember or find as The Player King.

I remember seeing this play when I was in university in the late sixties, but the title was more memorable than the play. As it had it’s first production in England in the early, mid sixties, it is surprising that university productions were able to get the rights. But then perhaps they did not bother with such niceties!

And I cannot imagine that I could have made anything out of the play at the time. I had never seen and possibly never read, Hamlet. As a French literature major, I had heard of Beckett and even studied En Attendant Godot, but never seen a performance. Without the background of those two plays, what could I have made of that university production? Not much, although I seem to recall enjoying it.

Now that I am much older and much better educated and experienced in the theatrical world, I completely loved the National Theatre Live presentation of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. The two actors were charmingly naive, waiting for someone to tell them what to do and to explain what is going on. Of course, no one ever does and they are left to wonder and wander aimlessly around the stage.

Stoppaard has a way of making you feel tremendously uneducated. (See earlier comments on Travesties). His plays are simple on the surface, but filled with allusions to literature, history and the world around. At least with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern I felt I had a chance!

 

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Midsummer

Written by Daniel Greig and Gordon McIntyre

Directed by Tamara Bernier Evans

Two people meet in a bar on Midsummer Eve in Edinburgh. One is a lawyer, the other a petty thief, but is spite of these differences the two connect in a wild and very funny weekend.  There occasional musical interludes.

Stars Brandon McGibbon and Carly Street both sound authentically Scottish, but both have long lists of Canadian experience.

This is not a deep play, full of important ideas, but it was great fun and such a relief after Crash the night before!

 

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Crash

Created and Performed by Pamela Mala Sinha

Directed by Alan Dilworth

Like our last play, 887, this play is about a memory, but it could not be more different.

887 was personal and political, but positive and happy.

Crash is also personal, but so intense that I hope it was written from the imagination and not from a real experience. Rape and the memory of rape and post rape behaviour have been much discussed in the last year, but I have never seen such a graphic  presentation of the after effects of a brutal assault on the woman and on those who love her.

Sinha presented this story in a calm and poetic manner, gradually revealing the horrific details. Never too much at once, or we would not have been able to bear it. Her performance was outstanding. The play was gripping and exhausting. I was glad we had to walk home afterwards as I needed the exercise to calm down.

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887

Written and performed by Robert Lepage.

Our second standing ovation of the year and it is only April!

Lepage has a well deserved reputation for creating interesting theatrical experiences. This play is no exception, although play is not really the right word. This is a personal memoir, a poem, and a political memoir all wrapped into one amazing box that opens and closes to reveal Lepage’s life.

Lepage has a wonderful voice and a great stage presence. He invites you into his life, tells you his stories and tells you stories you know about events of the day, but from his point of view. His performance of Speak White is worth the price of admission alone.

A fantastic show that had the whole audience listening enraptured to the very end when the standing ovation errupted.

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Kiss

Author – Guillermo Calderon; Director – Aslie Corcoran

Bana- Dalal Badr

Youssif – Greg Gale

Ahmed – Carlos Gonzalez-vio

Hadell – Naomi Wright

Interpreter – Liza BalkaN

Ameera’s sister – Bahareh Yaraghi

Described as a play within a play, Kiss is much more than that. Cultural confusion caused by assumptions based on very limited knowledge of another culture turns a comedy into a tragedy and a political statement.

This co-production with Theatre Smash & Arc was part of the Canadian Stage season and is a positive result from their move away from the safety of the old, white canon to plays that reflect the broader world we live in today. A Chilean born writer, who lives in the US, has written a play about a western cast misunderstanding a play supposedly written by a middle eastern woman. It points out the many preconceived ideas we all have and how hard it is to understand others.

Interesting play, well directed and acted.

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