“MARINE LIFE” plumbs climate change & human relationships Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe

Marine Life, written and directed by Rosa Laborde in collaboration with Aluna Theatre and now playing at Tarragon Extraspace, is a fable for our times. Through witty and perceptive dialogue, excellent acting, and an amazing set featuring both factual projections and touches of magic realism, this one-act piece shows us the interplay between the planet’s damaged oceans and the characters’ damaged lives. Despite these themes, the play is (as the playwright notes) a comedy in the true sense of the word – it provides some hope for redemption (at least partial). Not traditional theatre, but exciting, provocative, and well worth seeing.   Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

Matthew; Justin & Nicola in MARINE LIFE

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“Skin Flick”, or perhaps ‘Porn Yesterday!’ Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

Forty years ago, there was a highly popular movie titled ‘Fun With Dick & Jane’ that starred George Segal and Jane Fonda. The story was about a successful couple, (the Harpers); who when affected by a recession both lost their jobs. To create income, they decided to become bank robbers. Unlike the infamous Willie Sutton, they didn’t have the talent nor much success. Three decades later, Canadian playwright Norm Foster paraphrased the concept in ‘SKIN FLICK’. This incarnation was non-felonious but definitely as funny. No ‘stick-em-ups’, instead along with their single (and also unemployed) neighbour decide to create a porno DVD.

l-r   Wouthuis; Cook; Edwards; Redfearn & Fortman in SKIN FLICK

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“PICTURE THIS”, Soulpepper’s silent movie shenanigans Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
Picture This, now at Soulpepper, is like a Hungarian strudel: crafted with expertise and love, sweet but not saccharine, a bit flaky, and containing a filling that is both delicious and nutritious. The play, adapted by Morris Panych and Brenda Robins from Hungarian writer Melchoir Lengyel’s 1937 script, The Battle of Waterloo, is a “love-letter” to motion pictures, theatre, and all the arts.  Clever dialogue, brought to life by Panych’s insightful, well-paced directing, an excellent cast, and a creative set, combine to make this an enjoyable evening in the theatre.   Robins, part of the Soulpepper ensemble since 1999, also acts in the play, in a double role as film director’s assistant and wardrobe mistress.   Photo by  Cylla von Tidemann


the cast in a scene from “PICTURE THIS”

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Me and my Girl” a great SHAW date opportunity Reply

Review by Danny  & Terry Gaisin
                        Noel Gay’s “ME AND MY GIRL” may be dated and certainly not the most (With some exceptions) musically memorable. But given its creative re-writing; imaginative directing and extremely talented cast- this is sure-fire entertainment. The SHAW Festival’s rendering, given the somewhat popular premise, has made a unique take on the story seem almost contemporary.  Granted, British snobbery and rigid caste systems are supposedly passé; wealth and prestige still resonates with us unwashed masses. The concept of a lower class individual wanting or having to elevate levels is nothing new. G.B.S. incorporated it in his Pygmalion, and NATURALLY the original Pygmalion utilizes the idea.

Photo by David Cooper

 Therriault & Frank dancing ‘formally’, rather than “Lambeth Walking”

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“HMS Pinafore” – all the ‘♫Whys & Wherefores ♫’ 1

Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin

The first time we saw Gilbert & Sullivan’s 1881 operetta ‘HMS PINAFORE’, it was presented by a community theatre group that considered the lyrics remedial for folks with some speech challenges, and certainly singing was more fun than reciting tongue-twisters! The play has a strong but subtle message and denigrates ingrained British snobbism and oligarchic political attainment (think today’s White House). Stratford’s Lezlie Wade meticulously underscores the play’s comedic bent with impacting visual images; a creative and functional set, plus acute physical activity. Her choreographic utilization of the set’s two curved staircases will remind older individuals of the Busby Berkeley routines from the late fifties.

Admiral Laurie Murdoch chastising Captain Steve Ross before the crew & all those sisters/cousins/aunts!

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“TWELFTH NIGHT”, a convoluted five-some affair. Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
            Shakespeare’s four century-old comedy still manages to interest audiences and undergoes innumerable incarnations…even at Stratford. Folks still remember the musical version with Brian Dennehy as ‘Toby’. The present version also has music and sung dialogue with accentuation via bell-like crystal emphasis which is occasionally aurally hurtful. The major plot deals with separated siblings and a necessitated transsexual disguise. She; as a he, loves her boss – a duke; he adores a countess who falls for the girl thinking she’s a male, and finally, the villain of the piece, aptly named Malvolio. For our viewing, the intricacies were exacerbated by five casting replacements.

E.B. Smith & Sarah Afful arguing before Shannon Taylor & other cast members

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