I’m loving the availability of Hannah Moscovitch plays in Toronto right now. I saw Bunny at the Tarragon last week and enjoyed it – it certainly spurred a heated debate afterwards, so that’s always a sign of an intellectual winner – and have a date with Candace to see Things A Young Wife Ought to Know… since, well, she’s getting married and she OUGHT TO KNOW. Jeffrey, the Patron Services manager at Streetcar Crowsnest, said it was absolutely amazing, his “favourite show so far”, so now I’m doubly intrigued (update: terrific choice, she absolutely loved it, said that she had forgotten how much she enjoys theatre and that this rekindled something in her. Success. One down, a few to go…).
Also made a mental note to check out Bloom at Buddies (update: I loved it, found myself completely absorbed in the lead storyteller, and the set was fantastic with a particularly awesome manhole cover gobo that nailed the ambiance for me).
Near-April showers bring May flowers, and I think spring may have sprung, so we’ll see what the blooms bring.
Factory Theatre commissioned a terrific work by Kat Sandler, great aerobics for the brain, who somehow managed to pull off the near impossible task of making an audience laugh – guffaw, even! – while watching a piece about gun violence. In Canada. In 2018. In downtown Toronto. She’s basically a genius. Take a listen to some of the opening bits here.
Oh!, and I danced home after listening to Musica Nuda yesterday. This woman is a rock star. They both are. I hope to see more of this kind of magic. And this kind, too. It’s good shit. Like Farrah Fawcett hair.
Just came back from seeing Théâtre Français’ English edition of The [Post] Mistress at CanStage, and it was just wonderful. Beautiful, uplifting, lively, an astounding job by the sole actor on stage, who managed to captivate a sold out crowd for two and a half hours with her endearing charm, her juicy gossip and her killer pipes. The show was in a cabaret style, with the lead accompanied throughout by the playwright, Tomson Highway, on piano, and Marcus Ali on sax. Just fantastic.
There’s one number in there that just had me in stitches, a piece in which the empassioned lead sings about a sexy Argentinian man, Ariel Juan Eduardo Javier Manuel Rodrigo etc etc at which point I died laughing, since I know all too well a man who has a grand total of six given names. Spot on.
I had the pleasure of chatting briefly with Tomson before the show, and was very touched by his gentleness, his kindness and his wonderfully refreshing enthusiasm. He grabbed my hand, spoke of travels to Zimbabwe, and smiled a charmed smile before dashing off to ready himself for the show. A beautiful soul, with a beautiful gift that he just keeps on sharing. I love people like that.
Theatre lovers living on a dime take heed – Factory Theatre has launched their Toonie Tuesday preview extravaganza. Now there’s seriously no excuse to not go and enjoy these amazing Canadian productions.
Last night Mom and I saw David Yee’s “Acquiesce”, a play about a young man who must go and bury the father he barely knew in Hong Kong, and all the emotional turmoil that the experience brings up. I really enjoyed the performances, and for Mom and I it was good catharsis, as it deals with issues of abuse (Mom’s father, though a “good man”, was physically and verbally abusive to his family), the anger that comes from abandonment (I know my dad, but I don’t know my dad. I’ve seen him a handful of times in my life. My memories of him include a pizza and ice cream trip when I was a child and him being really angry at me for putting on nail polish before falling asleep and trying to kill everyone in the house with poisonous vapours) and the frictions that arise from straddling two vastly different cultures your entire life.
I have to give a giant thumbs up to the crew, who put together a fantastic modern, functional set, eerie musical interludes and terrific props and effects. Wonderfully done.
Well if this isn’t the most exciting news since I learned that you can buy Oreo cookies without the filling, I don’t know what is – admission to Canada’s National Parks will be free in 2017 to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary. That’s pretty amazing, and a great reason to pack up your car, make some PB&J sammies, and hit the road to discover all the beauty that this country has to offer.
I will be celebrating the occasion with a bunch of amazing people and amazing Canadian geography. Because what is Canada if not a spectacularly beautiful place?
We had the pleasure of attending the opening night of Skylight at the Berkeley Theatre last night, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It’s always great to see people who have been somehow involved in the production sitting in the audience, fidgeting nervously, anxiously awaiting the audience’s reaction and getting the pleasure of witnessing the fruits of their labour in full bloom. As usual, the Berkeley reception was a glorious, classy affair, with staffers and volunteers ensuring that every detail was tended to.
I love being exposed to new plays (well, new to me!) and novel techniques when I see a show. In this case, it was the fact that the main character cooked an entire meal onstage in real-time that impressed me (I was looking to see if certain elements were precooked, and couldn’t tell, to be honest) and completely embroiled me in the story. The kitchen is definitely the heart of my home and many an emotion peeks out as vegetables are chopped, plus it’s such an intimate act that I’m not sure if the characters’ closeness and comfort with each other could easily have been portrayed otherwise. It was a lovely choice – whether dictated by playwright or chosen by production team – but I applaud it vehemently.
And so, it seems, did Amy Pataki.
Saw a beautiful play at Factory Theatre last night, Trey Anthony’s “How Black Mothers Say I Love You”. It was amazing to see the turnout – I’m pretty certain that the entire run is sold out. I watched the audience as they poured into the theatre, excited and smiling and hugging each other in greeting. There was a good energy in the hall. I saw three and four generations of women coming in together, young girls holding their mom’s hands, with grandma close by, and great grandma making her way not far behind. The perfect Mother’s Day gift. It made me feel really happy to somehow be a part of it. As the play unfolded, I watched these women’s faces illuminated by the stage lights as they nodded vigorously in agreement during many scenes, laughed aloud at others, shook their heads in frustration at others. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a play resonate so strongly with the audience in a long time. People are often so reserved in theatres, you watch them and are not sure sometimes if anything really connects, and this audience was very different.
The subject matter is in part about what happens when mothers leave their children behind as they seek a better life for their families elsewhere, and how children view that perceived abandonment as they grow up. It’s difficult territory, but one that I could relate to, our family having gone through the same journey as mom ran away from the despair and “greyness” (as she always called it) of freshly post-communist Poland, leaving me in the care of others. I didn’t feel the same anger towards my mom as the protagonist in this play did, but I was definitely conflicted and struggled with self-worth. Of course understanding her choices was at times difficult, as was trying to belong to a culture that I often felt outside of. My dark era came when a friend referred to me as a “f*cking immigrant” at a dinner party, prompting a withdrawal from the life that I had built here and a reassessment of whom and what I value in life. At the root of it for me, all analysis aside, is the peace that comes when you simply love the people in your life who have tried their best with the cards life dealt them, and leave desires of perfectionism behind. I look at the people around me who gently nudge and support me, and I thank my stars for them, and love them dearly. I don’t say it enough, but I do.
Playing now until March 13th at the Factory, this beautifully uncluttered production of David French’s play left me in tears. Kawa Ada (whom I’ve already encountered this season in Bombay Black) is just breathtaking, as is his partner, the wonderful Mayko Nguyen, plus a remarkable supporting musical role by Ania Soul. Run folks. Run. The Globe and Mail reviewer loved it so much he bought himself a second ticket.
One of my favourite Toronto events is right around the corner! Winterlicious will be starting on Jan 29th and running for two weeks, packing restaurants during that maddening annual lull after the holidays and before Valentine’s.
Now, I know many chefs hate this tradition and bare their teeth at the cheap and classless clientele that they feel come in droves to their beautiful, carefully crafted establishments. I get that.
But I also remember how magical it was when my girlfriends and I (as we’re paying off loans, working six jobs at the same time, and anxiously putting aside our money) got this opportunity to fantasize about wining and dining in style. Not because our parents took us, not because a date could afford it, not because we were blowing off rent payments. It made us feel sophisticated, classy, and empowered, and motivated us to not only keep working hard, but exposed us to the incredible offerings of Toronto dining that would otherwise be completely inaccessible to us during that time.
I’m grabbing my ladies and making some reservations.
I’ve always been a big fan of escape games, and when the first live-action escape rooms started popping up in Amsterdam, I was beside myself. The opportunity to immerse myself in the creepy and crafty world of these puzzle games was impossible to turn down. I’m delighted, then, that Toronto seems to have a whole bucketload of these downtown. Some more legit than others, and several that appear to be full fledged theatrical productions. The one at Casa Loma, for example, looks amazing.
Now I must dash off, for I have been informed by those who love me well that there is a miniseries remake of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” with Charles Day and Noah Taylor, and knowing this does not allow me to sit here any longer. Love to you all in this new year – may it bring you as much intrigue and mystery as it already has brought me!