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Showing posts from July, 2010

35th Toronto International Film Festival Launch

At the launch of the 35th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this morning, festival co-directors, Cameron Bailey(left) and Piers Handling, announced some of the confirmed Galas, Special Presentations and one Master that will be screened at tiff 2010. As usual it was the big names that were announced: films directed by the likes of Robert Redford, Woody Allen, Francois Ozon, Mike Leigh, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Mahamat-Selah Haroun and stars such as De Niro, Hoffman, AAmir Khan, Om Puri, Helen Mirren, Hilary Swank etc...The name tossing doesn't confirm who is actually setting foot on the red carpet in September (those details have to be worked out over the next several weeks), but the films are confirmed. When asked if the Mel Gibson film would be making an appearance at the tiff, Piers Handling diplomatically stated (twice) that its his policy never to discuss films that haven't been selected for the festival. (Big laugh in the room, by the way, when those question…

Kurosawa is Sweet!

You know how you sometimes hear about how wonderful and influential a director is? Well, let me tell you that every praise that you have heard about Akira Kurosawa is justifiable. Thanks to Cinematheque Ontario ( a division of TIFF: Toronto International Film Festival), you will have a chance to see for yourself how deserved these accolades are. Cinematheque is screening Kurosawa films at Jackman Hall this month, and the big screen is best way to see any Kurosawa film.

I'm not usually a huge fan of dramas shot in CinemaScope; Westerns, musicals, yes, but I find it's use in dramas gimmicky in the hands of most directors. Thankfully, I can say that Kurosawa has the wisdom and skill to use the widescreen technique to it's full visually capacity. He knows how to block a scene in order to communicate aspects of his storytelling that cannot be done verbally. It was my absolute pleasure to watch his kidnapping masterpiece, High and Low* last night. I was completely absorbed in the…

Fringe Festival: It's a Wrap

So, my attendance at the Fringe Festival ended on July 11th amidst the cheering for Spain's victory and hoots and hollers up and down Bathurst Street as I walked from the Tarragon down to the Randolph Academy.

You may have noticed that I stopped reviewing a few days ago. Well, life and laziness intruded. I didn't stop going to plays, I just didn't post. So, for the curious, and because I like closure, here is a list of my last few plays. As usual please feel free to leave your comments, especially if you disagree with me:-)

by Rob Salerno
presented by Ten Foot Pole Productions from Toronto

DESCRIPTION:You’ve NEVER heard the hot new Canadian rock duo ALL-POWERS?! They’re HUGE in Germany, and they’re just about to break it in Canada – unless this show bankrupts them first. A rock comedy about friendship, fame, love, sex, pornography, money, and following your dreams. From the playwright/star of Balls (“4.5 Stars: seriously hilarious” SEE) and Fu…

Fringe Festival: Patron's Picks Announced!

Source: Toronto Fringe Festival.

Patron's Picks
Patron's Pick Performances are one more chance for you to see the shows everyone’s been talking about. On July 11th, each venue has an encore performance of the venues’ most attended shows. NOTE: 100% of these tickets are available in advance by phone, online or at the Advance Ticket Box Office starting the final friday of the festival.

For the first, and likely only time, FringeKids! will be host to a Patron’s Pick performance due to the cancelled run of One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes. Fairy Tale Ending, (FringeKids’! top selling show) will be given a bonus performance in their timeslot, which is Sunday July 11 at 11:00am. Playing at the Palmerston Library Theatre.

The 2010 Fringe Patron’s Pick Performances Are:
Tarragon Mainspace – Leacock Live! at 9:15pmTarragon Extra Space – Morro & Jasp Gone Wild at 9:15pmRoyal St George’s – Freudian Slip of the Jung at 6:45pmBathurst Street Theatre – Joe White & the Seven Divorcees at 9:1…

Fringe Review: "Waiting for Andre", A Hidden Gem

by John Arthur Sweet
presented by Hard Times from Montréal, QC
Genre: Storytelling
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Language

DESCRIPTION: A seriocomic meditation on love, art, and theatre, this is the story of Chris, an idealistic young actor who is hired for a bizarre publicity stunt promoting a production of WAITING FOR GODOT. Last performed in the Czech Republic, the Prague Post called WAITING FOR ANDRÉ “a beautifully crafted coming of age piece” and said “Sweet is a wonderful

MY REVIEW: A "seriocomic meditation"? How about "a smart, frickin', hilarious performance about an actor being hired to wait"? Because that's how I saw and the handful of people that were in the theatre would agree with me. We were cackling up a storm! You would think there were more of us in the room, but no, it was just us five giving free reign to laughter at the various situations described by Sweet in this one-man performance. Going back and forth in …

Fringe Review: "Phone Whore", Another 5 Star Performance!

by Cameryn Moore
presented by Cameryn Moore from Boston, MA
Director: Elizabeth DuPré
Cast: Cameryn Moore
Genre: Comedic Drama
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Content, Language

DESCRIPTION: Hey, there. … How are you doing? …. Yeah? Well, hang out with me for an hour and I will rock your f***king world. …Truth and taboo collide in this intimate visit with a phone sex operator. Listen closely: she may change your views on sex forever.

MY REVIEW: So know the title and you've read the description, so it wont' be a surprise to you when you go see the show that the language and phone scenarios are sexually explicit. What may surprise you is strength of the writing and the polished acting: no basic sex ad chatter that you find in the classifieds, and no fake, over the top, cutesie acting. What you get in PHone Whore is honesty and a script that questions society's standards, taboos and hypocrisy in relation to sex and sexual fantasies. "Hi, this i…

Fringe Reviews: Of Broken Brains, Bellydancing and Bewilderment

by Tamara Lynn Robert
presented by P.K. Pin Up Productions from Toronto
Director: Laura Anne Harris
Genre: Play-Comedy
Audience: Mature Audience
Warning: Content, Language

DESCRIPTION:Tamara is a mood disordered, medicated sweetheart of a mess and she needs help. On her journey towards healing she battles a legion of demons, wacky therapists armed with ridiculous treatments and one shapeshifting, grotesque monster called Stigma. Her guardian angel is her ever present comfort as she tells her comedic, heartwarming tale of living with mental illness.

MY REVIEW: Considering the stigma that still shrouds mental illness, I applaud anyone who can make their diagnosis public, let alone transform the fact into a one-woman performance. Tamara Lynn Robert's has written a clear, personal narrative that will inform as well as entertain without any demands for self-pity. Pills and psychiatry may help with mood disorders, but love and human (or pet) interaction can go a lo…

Fringe Festival Review: word!sound!powah! My First 5-Star Review

d'bi young's word!sound!powah! is my first 5 star review at this year's Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival. What she brought to Theartre Passe Muraille today, was nothing less than her usual brilliance. Building on her previous works of blood.claat. and benu, word!sound!powah! (wsp) is the work-in-progress conclusion of her Sankofa trilogy. young's method of storytelling is called dub theatre, a form developed by her mother, Anita Stewart (two of her original pieces are featured in wsp) and her mentor, director/dub poet/b.current founder, ahdri zhina mandiela.

young plays several characters in this performance that deals with the political, economical and mental state of Jamaica 18 years after its independence from England in 1962. At the heart of young's work is the question of what has happened to the country's strong sense of self and pride. After all, this was the island where the Maroons staved off the Spanish and the British, that was emancipated from slavery…

Fringe Reviews: Whores, Funny Men, An Innocent Man

As I have mentioned in other Fringe reviews, attending the Toronto theatre festival is a crap shoot: you never know what level of artistic merit the play/performance you are going to see will have. The festival is un-juried, and participants are chosen by lottery not by how good their productions are. That's what I love about this festival, and why I keep going. When you discover a fresh new talent, you share that with other festivalgoers as you stand in line comparing notes before the start of a show. A buzz can be created by word of mouth that can make a certain plays become hot ticket, must see festival fave. So, if you've seen anything you want to let others know about or if you disagree with any of my reviews, please, please leave a comment.

A Tale of Two Humours

CACTUS: The Seduction...
Created and Performed by Jonno Katz
( &
presented by Jonno Katz - Epicworlds from Melbourne, Australia
Directed by Mark Chavez from the Pajama Men.

Fringe Reviews: Not Just For Kids

This is my first year covering FringeKids! and like the rest of the Fringe you get the good with the bad. When you have a festival based on a lottery system that's just the way things work, and it's also what I like about the Fringe. The fact that you never know what you're going to get when you walk through those theatre doors. With FringeKids! I was bored, bewildered and beguiled. Read on...

The Blackheart Princess
by Nelson Yu
presented by Sunny Leo Productions from Toronto
Genre: Musical

DESCRIPTION: Princess Buttercup’s kingdom is under attack by a vicious dragon, Leonard. So when she meets a rapping pirate,
Blackheart, she convinces him to visit its treasure-filled lair to slay it. When Leonard hears of this plan, he snatches her away to The Cave of No Return. Blackheart goes to rescue her, but he discovers a secret more valuable than gold.

MY REVIEWThis one is definitely for the kiddies. They had a ball watching this play. One little boy in the audience w…

Fringe Reviews: Part 1

So, I've had a chance to see 5 of the 9 plays that were featured on my 5 Minute Fringe Special on June 19th. Each person had 5 minutes to tell you why you should see their show; now it's my turn to tell you whether or not I think you should spend that $10 ($11 if you buy on line).

Kissing Swinburne
by Mark Huisman and Claire Frances Muir
presented by Lady Trevelyan’s Circle from Toronto
(at left)Mark Huisman as Ethel and the mask was created and built by Karen Rodd. Photographer: Claire Frances Muir.

DESCRIPTION: Puppets, live action, masks and multimedia transport you into the imagined, sadomasochistic world of Victorian poet Algernon Swinburne and his love-struck companion Theodore Watts. To win Swinburne’s love, Theo must compete with a lusty first cousin, the school mistress - who paddles with enthusiasm, a preacher who wants a nibble, and an array of lascivious puppets!

MY REVIEW:This imaginative drama has lots of bawdy sexual humour and first-class ac…

2010 Dora Award "Recipients" aka Winners

Well, the Dora Awards are over for another year, and although only Louise Petre won for one of the nominated plays that I have covered on my show (or this blog), I wasn't disappointed to be in the audience to see the "recipients" (as host Jian Gomeshi was scripted to say) take the stage to express their gratitude. I especially liked the words of encouragement that Costume Designer (The Marriage of Figaro) Martha Mann gave to the youthful crowd: if they hang around long enough, in 40 years, they, too might win a Dora. Speeches such as Martha's and Clinton Walker (Turn of the Screw) who thanked actor, Philip Riccio for dropping out of the play so he could win the Dora, kept the very long evening from dwindling into a huge yawn. Kudos also to Jian Gomeshi for his humour and handling of the interactive audience and, ahem, for taking off his shirt.

And the Recipients ARE:

Outstanding New Play
Michael Healey  Courageous

Outstanding Production