TIMON OF ATHENS: “riches to rags, generosity to despair” Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
Is friendship only as deep as your pocket?  What happens when you believe you are wealthy in friends as well as money – and then these friends desert you in your hour of need?  Timon of Athens, at Stratford, raises these questions, important for our time as well as Shakespeare’s. Timon is one of Shakespeare’s least performed plays; some scholars even think that the play was not written entirely by Shakespeare but in collaboration with another writer, perhaps Thomas Middleton. It has, however, been revived in the 20th and now 21st centuries, often set in modern dress, as in this production.    Photo by Cylla von Tydemann

      the cast of TIMON of ATHENS on stage

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“DRACULA”; like Cher, Elvis, or ‘Trump’, the name is eponymous. Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

Bram Stoker’s iconic 1897 Vampire story has given birth to countless Halloween costumes, non-quotes (I’ve come to suck your blood) and encouraged the formal wearing of capes (black, with red lining). Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s poet Laureate had re-written the original Stoker take on the 15th century Eastern European ruler Vlad Tepes, whose draconian rule incorporated impalement. Historically, his severity was an effective deterrent! Briefly, the plot deals with a Transylvanian who wishes to migrate to England in search of fresh virginal plasma to maintain his Nosferatu-ish eternal (& nocturnal) banquets.  Photo by Emily Cooper

Cherissa Richards about to nosh on Ben Sanders’ neck!

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Stratford’s “BAKKHAI” depicts searing conflict & tragedy Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
Bakkhai (aka Bacchae) by Euripides, presented at Stratford in a new translation & adaptation by renowned Canadian poet and writer Anne Carson, is a very powerful play. Indeed, it has been considered one of the world’s most powerful tragedies since its initial performance at the Dionysia drama festival in Athens, 405 B.C. E., at which Euripides was awarded a posthumous award.  Euripides (c. 486 B.C.E.-406 B.C.E.) is also the author of Medea, The Trojan Women, Elektra, and Iphigenia at Aulis, among many other works. Note that the plays I mentioned are not only about extreme situations, they also have women as central characters.

   Lucy Peacock & dance chorus members       Photo by Cylla von Tydemann

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“The Changeling”, a challenge to stage & witness Reply

Review by Danny & Terry Gaisin
            The seventeenth century play THE CHANGELING by Middleton & Rowley is arduous to stage, difficult to perform and grueling to watch. Despite the foregoing and being dated, Changeling is still popular enough for TV repetitions; radio broadcasts and – of course -stage representations. Stratford’s (& always SHAW’s) Jackie Maxwell has re-dated it to the pre-WWII practice-session Guerra civil- the Spanish Civil War. However, neither Franco’s right-wing forces nor the Falangists, anarchists, Fascist or Nazis involved in the struggle would have incorporated ‘thou’s or ‘maiden’ references into their vocabulary, even their Spanish substitute. So, time & lines seem anachronistic.

another on-stage tense dialogue moment in “THE CHANGELING

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1837: The Farmer’s Revolt, a SHAW innovation Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

Rick Salutin’s 1973 play recounting an Ontario event that took place thirty years before confederation, and when the Province was still Upper Canada colony; is based on fact and a part of history. It was administered under a socio/political arrangement known as the ‘Family Compact’ with the accent on family. In the Quebec (or Lower Canada) there was a parallel paradigm but it was the Catholic Church and the St Jean Baptiste Society oligarchs that were in charge.  Director Philip Akin utilizes the talents of nine company members to interpret not only the divisive Whig/Tory antagonisms & philosophies; but their individual struggles.

Ric Reid as W.L. Mackenzie exhorting the farmers to revolt

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“Toronto FRINGE 2017” – truncated Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin  (7/17/17)

For the past decade, The ARTS REVIEW has endeavored to cover at least ten percent of the ‘TorFringe’ offerings; using our own protocols or selection process to choose presentational offerings. Alas, the caprices that accompany the aging process have made it too onerous for us to undertake such a large task. Standing, waiting and travel distance have become arduous. However, we DID manage a day’s worth of ‘fringing’. God, & nature willing; we’ll do a better job in 2018 for the thirtieth Festival anniversary. Here’s our impressions on 3 closing-day performances.

A idealistic portrayal of Algonquin – NOT by the “Group of Seven”

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