by Lynn on December 30, 2011

in The Passionate Playgoer

The top 10 plays and honourable mentioned, and other news worth noting were broadcast on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011. CIUT 89.5 FM, The Friday Show with no name.
The host is Damon Scheffer.

Good Friday morning, and time to see what’s on the mind of Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer.

Hi Lynn. Last week you told us about what you were looking forward to in the New Year. What do you have for the last Friday of 2011?

Why a look back of course. T’is the season to when everybody is doing a top 10 list. So I’ll do one as well which might be different from the norm in many cases. But isn’t that what we do here—march to a different

2) OK you have your marching orders. What are your picks and why?

Here are my top shows of 2011. So I won’t rank repeats because I talked about them already probably at a different radio station last year, although let me mention four :

ASSASSINS by Stephen Sondheim about the various assassins of American Presidents. Adam Brazier was the director. He’s a very gifted actor but he is shining as a young director.

MONTPARNASSE by Erin Shields and Maev Beaty who also acted in it. About nude models in Paris in the 1920s. It’s richly written, evocative and beautifully acted. It was first done at Summerworks a year ago, where it was also one of my best of picks. It was presented this year by Theatre Passe Muraille.

RIDE THE CYCLONE from Victoria BC. A wild, off the wall play with music about the lives of 6 young teens who died riding the Cyclone, a ride in an amusement park. Also co-produced this year at Theatre Passe Muraille.

And YICHUD by Convergence Theatre about the various rituals surrounding an orthodox wedding. Again co-produced by Theatre Passe Muraille. It’s beautifully written by Julie Tepperman who also stars in it. Aaron Willis directs and stars in it with his real wife Julie Tepperman. They play the nervous bride and groom.

So those are four shows I liked even more a second time around but won’t rank them with the others.

3) Ok let’s get to the ranking. What are your picks of the best of 2011?

In alphabetical order because I had enough trouble just sticking to a top 10.

BROTHEL #9 written by Anusree Roy and she also played a part in it. She is such a gifted writer. This was about a brothel in Calcutta and the prostitutes there and how they coped. It was unsentimental and unflinching in showing us a lifestyle in a country miles away from us, but Roy is such a good writer and actor that she and her cast mates put us in that world. Produced by the Factory Theatre.

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF by Tennessee Williams at the Shaw Festival. It crackled with fireworks and tenderness. It was beautifully directed by Eda Holmes and acted by Moya O’Connell as the sultry, lonely Maggie; Gray Powell as the wounded Brick; Jim Mezon as a raging Big Daddy and Corrine Koslo as desperate Big Mama.

MY FAIR LADY was revelatory in this Shaw Festival production directed by Molly Smith. A MY FAIR LADY for the 21st Century with Eliza Doolittle played by Deborah Hay—feisty, wounded, probably beaten by her father, and elegant.

OUR CLASS produced by Studio 180 one of the most consistently provocative companies. About the history of Poland and anti-Semitism as seen from the point of view of a class of young Polish and Jewish children. Unsettling, hard hitting and beautifully done.

THE LAST 15 SECONDS by MT Space from Kitchener and presented by Theatre Passe Muraille. My jaw dropped when I saw this. About a man who died in a suicide bombing whose spirit confronts the bomber. The imagination involved in this work was astonishing. So good was it that I will seek out MT Space whenever and wherever I can possibly find them.

4) Ok that’s five. Halfway there.

THE LITTLE YEARS by John Mighton, directed by Chris Abraham at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. About a bitter woman who loved math and science when she was a teen but had that enthusiasm and curiosity beaten out of her by lack of moral support and constant criticism from her bitter mother. It changed when her 14 year old niece told her that she (the aunt) was an inspiration. The power of love to transform.

THE MAIDS by Jean Genet and directedby Brendan Healy for Buddie’s in Bad Times Theatre. About two maids in Paris who take turns pretending she is the mistress and the other is the maid. Healy is a fine director, digging deep into the play. And he is opening up Buddies in Bad Times Theatre to other communities. Foreword thinking.

THE NORMAL HEART by Larry Kramer, directed by Joel Greenberg and produced by Studio 180 company. An angry, play about frightened characters and their fears about living with HIV Aids in the 1980s. A tightly directed, emotionally draining production.

THE PRICE by Arthur Miller, directed by Diana Leblanc. About two brother’s who are dividing up the
estate of their late father, and selling the furniture. The price refers not only to what the price is for the furniture, but what will one pay for a secure future.

WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING by Andrew Bovell directed beautifully by Peter Hinton for the Shaw Festival. About the complex intertwining of several people, their younger and older selves, past hurts and forgiveness. A difficult, dense play made easier by Hinton’s crisp, clear direction.

5) I believe you have some honourable mentions?

I do. HIGHWAY 63-the Fort McMurray story. About the Tar Sands, made clear by the writing and directing. Seen from the point of view of the people who live and work in Fort McMurray. Again produced by the feisty Theatre Passe Muraille.

THE JONES BOY by Tom Walmsley and directed by Peter Pasyk; surface/underground theatre. About a jumpy man waiting for his drugs to be delivered. In your face in an intimate space in which the actors are inches away from you.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MACKENZIE KING written and directed by Michael Hollingsworth for VideoCabaret. History made palatable, funny, informative, gut twisting and the most moving of the shows to come out of VideoCabaret.

THE MIDDLE PLACE, a collective of a script by Project Humanity, Canadian Stage and Theatre Passe Muraille. About teenagers in a housing facility. Their hopes dreams and fears. Beautifully done. It gives a human face to the street kids we don’t look at twice.

THE STORY written by Martha Ross, and directed by Jennifer Brewin for Theatre Columbus. Based on the Nativity story but given a modern sensibility. The script is irreverent and the setting of the Evergreen Bricks Works is both spooky and evocative. I love the daring of the piece and the huge imagination that goes into making this a must see show.

6) Any pet peeves; announcements you are awaiting?

We await the announcement of two Artistic Directors: At the National Arts Centre Peter Hinton will be leaving the NAC at the end of 2012. He’s an intellectual, eclectic, had a certain vision for the place and it was certainly never boring.

And at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Des McAnuff will be leaving at the end of his contract in 2013.

Two huge jobs. It will be interesting to see who fills them.

Peeves? Texting and cell phones in the theatre… Hype over substance really irks me…In which something light and insubstantial is hyped to the skies and the hype is believed without question by both the public and the media. Fascinating and frustrating. I wrote a blog about it earlier this week.

Thanks Lynn. That was Lynn Slotkin our theatre critic and passionate playgoer.

You can read Lynn’s blog at:

Hear the full (often unscripted) broadcast by going to and click on schedule and then on the Friday Show with no name.

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