Reviews: SUMMERWORKS so far

by Lynn on August 10, 2015

in The Passionate Playgoer

Beautiful Man

At the Theatre Centre.

Written by Erin Shields
Directed by Andrea Donaldson
Starring Anusree Roy
Ava Jane Markus,
Brett Donahue
Melissa D’Agostino

The tables are turned in Erin Shields’ cheeky, sharply funny take on objectifying a beautiful man. He’s the accommodating boyfriend of a tv cop who is a woman. Her career is everything. They guy is window dressing. In Andrea Donaldson’s smartly directed production he’s on a raised platform behind three women beautifully dressed in white, who are first having a manicure and pedicure and then get toned at the gym.

They riff off each other telling the minute details of a the tv show about the cop and her relationship with the boyfriend. They know the cop is consumed with her job and getting the bad guys. They are consumed with every inch of the boyfriend and how physically excited or half excited he is.

Anusree Roy is smarmy, chic, and mildly sarcastic. Melissa D’Agostino is almost innocent and wide-eyed but knows how to float a zinger. Ava Jane Markus is matter of fact and still holds her own. Brett Donahue is eye-candy and dandy.

Beautiful Man is a wild romp.


At Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace

Written and directed by Len Falkenstein
Starring: Emily Boussé
Dani Brun
Rebekah Chassé
Jean-Michel Cliché
Alex Donovan
Jake Martin

Pristine land, untouched, remarkable glaciers, a greedy oil industry, carelessness in a dangerous workplace and a devastating disaster—Lac/Athabasca described as “A cross-country journey, written in ice, water and fire,” will leave you breathless—truly.

Len Falkenstein’s writing is vivid and arresting, in particular those scenes in which characters describe trying to out run a fire, or the effects of a train derailment on the people close to the scene. The events of the derailment will have echoes of the Lac Mégantic disaster but the play has broader implications and important things to say. Perhaps a bit of tightening is in order, but what is there and the way it’s presented is stunning.

Better Angels: A Parable

At Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace

Written by Andrea Scott
Directed by Nigel Shawn Williams
Starring: Akosua Amo-Adem
Sascha Cole
Peyson Rock

A story we have heard before but it still grips because of Andrea Scott’s tight, taut writing. Akosua comes to Toronto from Ghana to be the nanny for the children of Leila and Greg Tate. The hairs on the back of your neck begin to stick up when Leila asks for Akosua’s passport to fill in information on forms. She will keep the passport safe. They give her a room in the house that is very small (beautifully realized by Nigel Shawn Williams’s direction. Leila left a good job to become a writer. Her husband Greg is hard working and at his boss’s beck and call. The hairs on the back of your neck stick up more when Leila tries to explain why she won’t pay Akosua any money.

The performances are terrific. Perhaps a little quibble in the writing is that Greg assumes that Leila is paying Akosua and she has a chance to tell him Leila has not paid her at all, but doesn’t take the opportunity to tell him. I wonder why she doesn’t tell him since she challenges Leila with it frequently. Just a quibble.

Better Angels: A Parable tells a hard story with style and a twist.

The Hum

At Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace

Created by GzAp Collective and Theatre Gargantua
Original text, choreography, music and animation by the GzAp Collective
Directed by Jacquie PA Thomas
Performed by Jenny Aplin
Julia Aplin
John Gzowski

The show was inspired by the drawings of 10-year-old Jenny Aplin’s drawings. She and her parents Julia Aplin, the dancer and choreographer and John Gzowski, the musician and composer, went on a road trip in 2014 where they explored the environment, bonded, connected, sang, danced, played and Jenny drew all manner of things from nature to flowers, landscapes etc. And they experienced the hum of the earth.

We are welcomed into the theatre, where Julia Aplin is stretched in a dancer’s pose on the stage. John Gzowski plays a stringed instrument you know he made from an oar and Jenny draws on her I-Pad with the results projected on a screen above the stage.

Julia asks us to listen to the silence which is really the hum of the earth. John plays guitar. Jenny draws more. There are many projections of Jenny’s drawn flowers with their common names as Jenny says their scientific names.

They are obviously a close family. One senses that that trip was wonderful for the three of them as they looked, explored and wondered at their surroundings. But the structure and dialogue of the piece is so loose as to be formless. The point of why they would think this would have relevance to an audience of strangers (for the most part) is elusive. And while both parents are accomplished artists, watching this show was like being forced to look at hundreds of pictures taken on a trip along with commentary that had meaning only to the people who took the pictures.

All at Summerworks:

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