Truscott play a wake-up call Reply

Review by Judith Robinson

The characters in Soulpepper’s production of “
Innocence Lost; a play about Steven Truscott”, are collectively evil, ignorant and frightening. Director Jackie Maxwell creates a stunning ensemble masterpiece and a community chorus of condemnation reminiscent of the Greek tragedies in her depiction of Beverly Cooper’s docudrama.
While most Canadians might find it hard to believe, that an innocent 14-year-old boy would be wrongly convicted of rape and murder in their neighbourhood, this play reveals that it’s a likely possibility.
Nancy Polk’s compelling portrayal of Isabel LeBourdais, the writer who spent many years attempting to acquit Steven Truscott after his 1959 conviction, demonstrates that justice seekers are an unpopular lot.

The Police ‘mugshot’ of a young Steven Truscott

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“GIRLS LIKE THAT” could be you, or your daughter Reply

Review by Ellen S. Jaffe

 

 

Evan Placey’s play Girls Like That, now at the Tarragon’s Mainspace, is a play of paradoxes – and a powerful, captivating theatrical experience. It is a feminist play written by a man, and rings true both psychologically and socially. It depicts adolescent girls who live by their cell-phones and social media, yet it appeals both to teenagers and to older women — and men. I attended a matinee where most of the audience were high school and university students who said that the play reflected their lives. There were, however, a number of audience members older than the “social media generation,” who said they, too, identified with the characters and action.      Photo courtesy of Cylla von Tiedemann                                                                   The ensemble of “GIRLS LIKE THAT” More…

‘MA RAINEY’-Alana Bridgewater’s breathtaking Blues Reply

Review by Judith Robinson

Countless obstacles contrive to stop Ma Rainey, the real life mother of soul, played by Alana Bridgewater, from recording her music in Soulpepper’s powerful production of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In a 1927 studio in Chicago, Ma is beset with car accidents, racist cabbies, bullying police officers, equipment failures, unfaithful lovers, ambitious underlings, impatient bosses and unfair pay. (While Ma got $200 for her session, Al Jolson would have gotten $10,000.) Though Ma’s spirit is strong, she is on the edge, due to the endless barriers keeping her from getting what she deserves. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

   Stewart,  Griffith & Bridgewater in’ MA RAINEY’

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“PAINTING CHURCHES”, the play – not the job! Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin
About fifteen years ago, I had the opportunity to see Virginia McEwen & Vince Carlin counterpoint each other in D.L. Coburn’s ‘Gin Game’. Their chemistry, professionalism, and acting skills were obvious. These qualities are even more apparent in Tina Howe’s PAINTING CHURCHES. This 1983 Off-Broadway sit-dram, (sic) presented by ‘Act of Faith’ Productions is an intense yet delicately directed effort that made this scribe recall a succinct observation by an insightful relative who observed that ‘Growing old is not for the faint-of-heart‘. Her husband was experiencing what acclaimed poet ‘Gardner Church‘ was experiencing… the onslaught of early dementia.

Saulez making an on-stage point with Carlin & McEwen

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“Bedtime Stories”, giggles interspersed with drama Reply

Review by Terry Gaisin
Prolific (52 & counting) Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s “BEDTIME STORIES” is a challenge not only for a director, but for audiences as well, given that format and plot lines are so contrived and web-like in coherency that concentration is highly mandated.
The six vignettes are totally diverse yet intermingled via a radio broadcast and by familial relationships. Personas that we meet prove to be someone mentioned, referred to or a character seen in a previous sketch. Foster does not telegraph these contrivances; thus the needed engrossment in order for the viewer to stay cognizant.

The BLT cast of “BEDTIME STORIES”

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“Little shop of (Hilarious) Horrors”; by Burloak. Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

The ridiculous concept behind the 1960 B-movie and subsequent off-Broadway presentations led to a big-budget film 25 years later directed by Frank Oz of Muppet & Sesame Street fame. A voracious Venus Flytrap; an amateur botanist; a failing flower retailer located in the slums; and a terrific trio of back-up singers provide all the ingredients for an evening of mirthfulness and entertainment…but only if done as professionally as possible. BurlOak Theatre group and director Mike Ranieri have staged something faultless. Attending a final dress rehearsal meant that this scribe was accorded the opportunity to observe the stage manager’s (Greg Stanton) last chance for his ‘technical tweaking’.

The cast of BurlOak’s “Little Shop of Horrors”

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