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.
Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is the story of a scholar whose impatience with his studies lead him down a dangerous path. Frustrated with the futility of classical philosophies, Faustus delves into necromancy in order to give his soul to Lucifer in exchange for power over the demons of hell.
Officiated by his proxy Mephistophilis, Lucifer is more than willing to accept this deal, giving Faustus twenty-four years to use these powers for his own selfish ends. However, when the contract expires, will Faustus repent his sinful course? Or shall he be cast down to hell, to suffer with the demons below?
Sock ‘n’ Buskin Theatre Company’s adaptation of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus is a splendid blend of traditional verse and comic acting. The less serious nature of the performance allows the actors to take what few foibles there were in stride, adding to the humour and giving each performance a unique twist. Read the full review.
Before Anna of Arendelle, there was Anne of Green Gables; both outspoken, free-spirited young redheaded orphans with strong romantic ideals. While Anna lived trapped in her palace, longing for the love of her sister, Anne moved from foster home to foster home before ending up in an orphanage desperate to find a real home of her own.
Which is where Anne of Green Gables begins, with Anne arriving in Avonlea to be adopted by Matthew Cuthbert. This comes as a surprise to Matthew, who along with his sister Marilla, had planned to adopt a boy that could help run their small family farm (Green Gables) as they reached their late 50s.
Anne of Green Gables was first published as a novel in 1908. It has been translated into 20 languages, been adapted into movies, tv series, and live theatre, and has captured the hearts of Canadians and people around the world as an ingrained part of our culture.
The simplest way to describe The December Man is that it’s depressing, from beginning to end, or a better way to put it would be from end to beginning. Following the events of the Polytechnique Massacre, The December Man is a play which pays tribute to the women who lost their lives in that horrific tragedy, and also those who had life-long scars in the days, months and years following. The December Man follows Jean, a young and promising Engineering Student, whose daily life is upended as he starts to relive the nightmares that he witnessed on the fateful day, wishing he could transform himself into a hero to put an end to the haunting visions. The play works backwards through time, opening with a vignette that holds no punches as it very quickly and graphically shows the fates of our three main characters.Read the full review.
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.
The Lakeside Players’ most recent panto, Camelot, is a zany exploration of Arthurian myth and pop music. The story begins in the early years of Camelot, before the Knights of the Round Table and before Prince Arthur is able to overcome his own social awkwardness when it comes to women. With his wife-to-be Guinevere already on her way to Camelot, Arthur and his friends must find a way to woo this woman who is not particularly happy over the fact that she’s been given away in marriage.
It has been awhile since I’ve seen a panto, but I enjoyed having the chance to sit down and enjoy the simple humour of the evening. Entertaining throughout, the production noticeably picks up in the second act, employing a choreography and scripting that is animated and engaging. From the very first musical number, you can tell that the energy and drama is going to be much higher than it was in the first act.Read the full review.
Flare Path revolves around the troubles of three military families stationed at an RAF bomber base during WWII. While there is always the shared fear that their husbands may one day be shot down, each of these families has their own unique marriage problems to worry about.
From infidelity of the heart to fears of the future, these troubles are kept secret by the wives from the husbands who fly over enemy territory at night. At the best of times, life still manages to impersonate contentment, but calm veneers begin to crack when the latest bombing run fails to go as planned.
The conflict between desire and duty plays a major role in this narrative. However, for a story based upon such inner turmoil, the drama of this performance feels rather subdued.
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.
The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God finds Rainey, played by Lucinda Davis, fighting to make her way out from rock bottom. Three years after the sudden and unexpected loss of her daughter, marred in a divorce and suffering from severe mental health issues you would typically find on a TLC show, Rainey finds herself back in her hometown, a small Cottage country town in Western Ontario along the shores of Negro Creek. It’s here where Rainey encounters a whirlwind of activity which draws her from out of her haunted past into the present and may just make her step away from the ledge.
The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God is a very ambitious project that The National Arts Centre English Theatre has decided to open their 2015-16 Season with. It’s a show that relies heavily on a very talented and enthusiastic chorus, who are on stage 99% of the time. It’s a show that has a fairly large cast and a unique group of different characters all with their own motivations and goals. It’s a show that runs nearly three hours long, yet within it’s extremely long run time has very little actual content. The plot of this play could be told in just over an hour if we were to cut out all of the singing and dancing, which while it definitely does add to the quality of the show, also makes the show drag out longer than it needs to be.Read the full review.