Sunday, May 3, 2015

Short term (May-June) theatre scene

I've been scanning ahead, and I have to admit that next season doesn't look all that thrilling pretty much anywhere.  I don't think I'll be able to piece together a subscription at Tarragon or Soulpepper when I am interested in only one or two plays at each place.  Classical music may end up being a better draw.  Of course I have my own writing to focus on, as well as doing more exploration of the independent theatre scene (and ultimately these two may end up overlapping).  I will say that, whatever may have been the case in the past, the Toronto Star now has started covering indy theatre with some regularity, including this cover (of the arts section) story on RedOne Collective at the Storefront Theatre and Coal Mine Theatre (apparently right at Pape and Danforth).  I'm a bit pleased that I actually have found my way to the Storefront before it became so well known, though I truly had no idea there was a theatre at Pape and Danforth.  Their current offering (Strindberg's Creditors) doesn't thrill me, so I'll probably wait until next year to see what they are up to.  It does seem that Red Sandcastle is maybe just not rising to the same level of competence, but it's worth keeping an eye on them as well.

Anyway, we are back from the George F. Walker double bill.  It was pretty intense, but basically a fairly standard Walker play -- people acting kind of strange under intense stress, all the people in the play hustling to some degree or other, some very implausible events and some very dark moments, ultimately resolving in a perhaps upbeat ending.  (Maybe this isn't entirely true of Problem Child...)  I don't really have the interest in going through these plays in detail, but I agree with the NOW and Star review, which both seem to indicate that the second play on the bill (The Bigger Issue) is a bit stronger (and weirder) than the first one.  It was generally a bit less "shouty," which I appreciated.  I also thought the speech by the principal who dreads having to go back into the trenches and teach (if everything goes south) was very real.  I still remember dreading teaching when I was just out of college, and I have a lot of sympathy for teachers (though rarely teacher union representatives).  There were clearly a few teachers in the audience, and hopefully word of mouth will bring out more before the plays close in about two weeks' time.

I am off to see Needles and Opium tomorrow at Canadian Stage, and I think it is about jazz musicians, refracted through Robert LePage's sensibility.  Not entirely sure what it will be like, but it should be pretty entertaining (I hope).*

There is a play at the Storefront (Liver) where the ad campaign has me really turned off, even a bit sickened, and I had no intention of going, though the Star is giving it a rave review.  I'll have to think long and hard about going, since I think there is only one more week to go.

I am looking forward to the Bollywood version of Much Ado About Nothing.  And in June, I'll go see Soulpepper's remount of Of Human Bondage, which was supposed to be pretty good.  There are two plays in the meantime at Soulpepper that I am skipping.  I never was that crazy about Bedroom Farce by Ayckbourn, which I saw in Chicago.  I also saw Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice in Chicago, and while I wouldn't mind seeing it again, I just don't have the funds.  I guess I would go if I received review tickets (hint, hint).  (The same thing is even more true of The Alchemist at Stratford.  I'd love to see it, though I'd love to see it even more if it gets transferred to Toronto, as I already have two overnight visits to Stratford this summer.  Definitely a record for me.)

I think that covers all the main things I am looking into until the summer, when the action shifts to Stratford and Shaw.  Not much point in belabouring how I am underwhelmed by future seasons, but I'll list a few things I am likely to try to see next season and beyond in a future post.

* It was good but LePage places a much higher value on spectacle than on plot.  I thought The Far Side of the Moon had more plot and even character development.  I guess it didn't help that there was a guy behind me that loudly protested that part of the script was left in French and we had to read the translation in projected subtitles.  I really wish he hadn't been in the audience, as he harshed my mellow.  LePage has reworked this a bit, making the abandoned lover a bit older (and thus more vulnerable.)  As far as I can tell, the script (either in the original or this reworking) has not been published in either English or French.

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