“Androcles”- Some Aesop, a lot of GBS, & SHAW’s version. 1

Review by Danny Gaisin

Theatre attendance for a critic is supposed to be work, i.e. a chore, an obligation and a duty. Watching SHAW’s director Tim Carroll put his own slant on the 1600-year-old fable is such fun that the concept of being ‘work’ never enters the equation. From the pre-opening intercourse between audience and performers this is eponymous farce and except for two moments of serious didactic dialogue, sniggers chortles & full giggles are the Courthouse Theatre atmosphere. The action takes place on the thrust stage, but commentary; opinion and interaction are all solicited from the spectators. The action actually goes right up into the aisles.

Jeff Irving restraining Michael Therriault while Patrick Galligan and the others watch

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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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“Vimy” captures fractured Canadian psyche Reply

Review by Judith Robinson
Soulpepper’s production of Vern Thiessen’s play, Vimy, is about conflict – not just the one referred to in the play’s title between the Allied powers (Canada, Great Britain, France) against the Central (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire) during WWI. There are almost too many conflicts in this play for the audience to digest – French versus English – gay versus straight – Indigenous versus Caucasian. The list is endless. The question is can all of these issues be navigated effectively in one production? Although only one of many story lines, the Anglophone/Francophone conflict at The Front was by far the most compelling.

The famous Vimy battle scene painted by Richard Jack, April 9/12th 1917

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“CARMEN”, tempts Don José; seduces him & dies 5

Review by Terry Gaisin

Bizet’s 1875 opera ‘CARMEN’ is undoubtedly the most popular and beloved of the genre. Understandable given the libretto by Meihac & Halèvy; exceptional music and unrivalled lyrics. Who can’t instantly recall the memorable “ Toreador-a, don’t spit on the floor-a, we have a cuspidor-a; that’s what it’s for-a ♪ “!
The plot deals with a conscientious Spanish soldier, engaged to a hometown girl. He meets a sexy Gypsy; and is ordered to arrest her. Falls head-over-heels and lets her escape. After release he re-joins her, but she meets a popular bullfighter. The soldier is jealous and stabs her -Curtain & rousing applause.

Carmen (red dress) seducing the entire local constabulary

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Shaw’s WILDE TALES; Avenue “Q” it ain’t! Reply

Review by Danny Gaisin

Oscar Wilde was a creative writer whose children’s stories were decidedly not Victorian. For SHAW and director Christine Brubaker, the half-dozen actors humorously present vignette-style stories that also include hand puppets, ridiculous costumes and theatrically delightful commentary. One of the major characters is an item of fireworks with a ‘Sheldon’ of “Big Bang Theory” Asperger’s psyche. His (it’s) portrayer is Sanjay Talwar and his demeanor and facial expressions underscore all his dialogue. The nightingale puppet is voiced and warbled by Emily Lukasik whose vocal control is operatic in tone and purity.  Photo courtesy of David Cooper

Sanjay Talwar as ‘pffft” and PJ Prudat as the dragonfly

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