Soulpepper’s Ibsen version lost in translation Reply

Review by Judith RobinsonreviewerJudith Robinson
Why would a modern woman, from a prominent family, have an emotional fixation on a domineering Trump-style male? While this scenario might fascinate reality TV watchers, Frank McGuinness’ 1996 adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House fails to effectively translate the genius of the classic drama. The original Nora Helmer, circa Ibsen’s 1879 Norway, was a strong woman who had little choice but to stay with her controlling mate because of the societal dictates of her day. But in McGuinness’ 1990’s UK, Soulpepper’s Katherine Gauthier’s ‘Nora’, would have had plenty of options.      Photo courtesy of Cylla von Tiedemann

Matamoros; Morris; Gauthier & Oladejo in "A DOLL'S HOUSE"

     Matamoros; Morris; Gauthier & Oladejo in “A DOLL’S HOUSE”


Who wouldn’t want to live in ‘OUR TOWN’? Reply

Review by Judith Robinson

The characters and situations in Thornton Wilder’s classic play, Our Town, are a true to life depiction of a tightly-woven North American community, at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Shaw Festival’s production of the 1930’s drama is authentic, heart-wrenching and honest. The play was written to be delivered as an ensemble piece whereby the cast functions like a choir—singing a song in which everyone plays an essential role. Individual characters seldom stand out… Wilder is celebrating life itself – the trajectory of individuals is of secondary importance. Director, Molly Smith, does a fine job of conducting the choir in the manner the playwright intended.  Photo courtesy of David Cooper

Wright; McGregor & Flett; residents of "OUR TOWN"

Wright; McGregor & Flett; residents of “OUR TOWN”


Shaw’s “BLACK GIRL…” searches for meaning 2

By Judith RobinsonreviewerJudith Robinson

             The Adventures of The Black Girl in Her Search for God – Lisa Codrington’s adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s 1932 short story – is an over-the-top satire on western civilization’s attempts to convert Africans to the Judeo-Christian model. And the Shaw Festival’s lunch hour production is zany, outrageous and through provoking. Director, Ravi Jain, kept the energy high. Characters moved in and off the stage, through trap doors, across the balcony and through the audience. The tone and pitch was intense and the actions at times frenetic. The third wall was frequently smashed.  Photo by David Cooper

the cast of 'BLACK GIRL..."

the cast of ‘BLACK GIRL…”


Artword Artbar celebrates Toller Cranston Reply

By Ellen S. JaffeReviewerEllen S.

 TOLLER  (Toller-on-the-run Productions), written and directed by Sky Gilbert, is about figure-skater Toller Cranston as he muses on his life and times. The piece was inspired by Cranston’s 1997 memoir Zero Tollerance: An Intimate Memoir by The Man That Revolutionized Figure Skating. Gilbert premiered the play at the Artword Artbar in November 2015 and remounted it for the Toronto Fringe.  David Benjamin Tomlinson re-creates his brilliant portrayal of Toller, talking about isolation, identity, sexuality, art and beauty, in language that conveys both sparkle and shadow.  More…

“The TORONTO FRINGE, 2016” Reply

As in previous years our Ontario Arts Review will endeavor to cover as many of the entries as our time and writer-availability will permit. Having received venue and backing support from Honest Ed’s, the Fringe Administration has decided to caricature the store’s famous logo in the late Ed Mirvish’s honour. We’ll be adding and updating our critiques on a daily basis, so be sure and check out the column regularly.  Remember, many Fringe-style offerings (including Toronto’s) have gone on to mainstream performances. ‘The Fantasticks’; ‘Urinetown’; and ‘Drowsy Chaperone’ are just the most renowned.  If you see us and notice our Press accreditation badges – say hello! We’re Terry, Danny, Jordan, Ellen & Michael.

Finge 2016 Bannerhead


“The Hero of Hunter Street” builds hope from ashes Reply

Review by E. Lisa MosesReviewer E. Lisa
    The world premiere of Maja Ardal’s play, The Hero of Hunter Street, tackles one of the biggest industrial catastrophes in Canadian history. Massive explosions, and a four-day fire in a Peterborough, Ont. Quaker Oats plant, killed 24 men 100 years ago, and left the community reeling. Directed by Kim Blackwell, the play at the 4th Line Theatre in Millbrook leverages the talents of 47 professional and volunteer actors – from an infant to an octogenarian. Their 75 characters treat the poignant story, intricate characterizations and profound emotions with sensitivity and grace.

a moment of comedic relief during "Hero of Hunter St."

A moment of comedic relief       Photo by Wayne Eardley (Brookside Studio)