On a stage furnished simply with two desks, the story of Andrew and Melissa’s relationship unravels through a series of letters read aloud. At face value, Love Letters doesn’t sound especially exciting but thanks to the talents of stars Lucy van Oldenbarnveld and Pierre Brault, it’s an engaging piece of theater. These brilliant actors fire up our imagination with vivid characterizations and a stirring portrayal of complex emotions from start to end.
Like any good crime drama, The Murder Room starts off with someone being, predictably enough, murdered. The culprit cleverly spends the next few scenes diverting the attention of law enforcement officers before realizing the perfect crime wasn’t nearly as perfect as planned. Act two is more mystery than procedural with end revelations that are as dizzying as they are far-fetched. The story is satisfyingly silly and strange making for an excellent start to 2016.
Devoid of snowmen, reindeer, or carols, Angel Square is not an obvious Christmas play. Set in 1940s Ottawa, it takes place over one winter when young Tommy finds himself following in the footsteps of his favourite radio show detective, The Shadow. A brutally anti-Semitic beating has taken place in sleepy Lowertown and since his best friend’s dad was the victim, Tommy is determined to find the culprit. Along the way, we meet his family, a motley crew of teachers, his gang of multicultural friends, the love of his life, and more.
Thanks to holiday movie marathons on cable TV, many people are already familiar with the plot of A Christmas Story. For those without this cinematic tradition, the tale is simple: Ralphie wants a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time” for Christmas. His desires are thwarted time and again by overly cautious adults convinced he’ll “shoot his eye out”. Ralphie dreams, schemes, and does everything a kid can to get his way. Will Santa pull through?
So This is Christmas presents a different perspective on the upcoming holiday: one that is more appropriate for adults than families, with a focus on what Christmas means instead of how we celebrate it. Both plays could have easily taken place at any other time of year but fit nicely together as a start to the season.
The 2015/2016 season of TACTICS opens with two performance pieces about important contemporary issues: (off) Balance by Naomi Tessler tackles mental health problems while Amelia Griffin’s feelers addresses gender relations. Both are semi-autobiographical shows presented with honesty, grace, and charm.Read the full review.
On the 60th anniversary of D-Day, we meet Isabelle, a ten-year-old girl with “the most important job in the world” who lives in Normandy. She’s vivacious, genuine, and almost instantly lovable as she shares her excitement for the arrival of veterans to Juno Beach. Despite her obvious enthusiasm, Isabelle’s grandmother wants her to leave the veterans in peace. But of course she disobeys and rushes off to meet Jake, a newly arrived foul-mouthed Canadian who hasn’t stepped foot on Juno Beach since that fateful day.
Jake’s Gift shows us the development of a strong friendship between Isabelle and Jake over his brief stay in Normandy. Jake’s storytelling takes us on a journey from his decision to enlist, to the fun he and his brothers had in dance halls, to how he’s coped with the traumas of war since returning home. Meanwhile, Isabelle’s comments show us the gratitude, honour, and love that consume survivors of the war and their families. This is a beautifully-written show full of compassion, respect, and understanding of everyone affected by war. Read the full review.
Over the course of three weekends one summer in the early 1990s, we meet eight gay men at various points in their careers and lives.
As far as action, not much “exciting” happens in this play. Lovers cheat and quarrel, relationships crumble while others grow, and through it all, the preciousness of life and the beauty of friendship is highlighted time and again. In other words: Love! Valour! Compassion! (LVC, as it is affectionately known to some) is a poignant examination of human relationships, growth, and change and doesn’t need an action-packed adventure or non-stop laughs to keep us hooked.
Join four local actors as they show us two very different characters in this double-bill of one-act plays. First meet Hannah, a bag lady living in the Toronto subways, who has a shocking and terrible collection of secrets. Then befriend Stanley, a friendly, slightly-alcoholic bloke whose life hasn’t always turned out the way he hoped but he sure has some stories to tell!
Endings is an evening of two one-act shows loosely linked by the theme of “life stories”. The first, Mind the Gap, is a humanizing look at a Torontonian ‘bag lady’. As she sleeps in the subway, we see her past via a scene from a mental hospital. Jodi Morden plays the energetic, determined, younger version of our protagonist and brings a spirited sense of fun to the stage. Hannah is almost instantly likeable thanks to Morden’s charming acting, which makes Beverley Wolfe’s portrayal of the current day Hannah all the more tragic. Read the full review.
Letting your partner meet your parents for the first time is a big, scary moment in any relationship but it’s even more harrowing when your mother’s opinionated. “I’m Not Jewish But My Mother Is!” shows one particularly nightmarish dating disaster when an unexpected visit from Christopher’s mother interrupts his evening plans.
“I’m Not Jewish But My Mother Is” opens with Christopher (Steve Martin) dancing around his bachelor’s apartment in his underwear, excitedly preparing for a date that evening and gleefully proclaiming that nothing can wreck his mood save for a call from his mother. Cue: call from his mother, who barges into his living room shortly thereafter. Read the full review.