Friday, March 4, 2016

Dogs of War

It's really amazing just how much theatre there is in Toronto right now.  Mooney's is not even able to get around to everything, and the Star has lost its mainstay critic and are getting some reviews from a freelancer.  I would probably be tempted to go see Blithe Spirit, but we saw the big budget version at Mirvish last year, and I just don't see the need.

While the reviews for Salt-Water Moon have been quite good, I still feel it is stunt casting, and then they added this narrator who reads out the stage directions while the actors sometimes do and sometimes do not follow the directions, which sounds like a ridiculous conceit to me.  The one thing I disliked about Steppenwolf's staging of McCraney's Brother-Sister Plays was the characters reading out their own stage directions and the company often taking a deep breath all at the same time.  I virtually never like devices that draw attention to themselves (away from the acting) and emphasize the artificiality of the theatre experience.  So on those grounds alone, I am going to pass on this production.

I am back from Richard III (Wolf Manor) playing upstairs at Tarragon.  I would recommend it.  It is incredibly intimate, two rows of seats only on three sides of the stage.  They have a device or a gimmick, which is most of the performers are emphasizing animalistic traits and they may come up to Richard on their bellies (like a snake perhaps or a very abject dog) and a few others were doglike in other ways.  This had the benefit of making it clear that much of what was going on during these wars of succession really was one pack against another (Plantagent vs. Lancaster -- did I get that right?).  I was getting a bit bored of the device in the second act, though I think there is a solid payoff at the end, which I don't wish to spoil.  There was a lot to like about this production, but beware that if you sit in the front row, you will almost certainly have Richard come right up to you and speak at least a few lines directly at you.  So not for the shy...

It's really hard to beat the price, and who doesn't want to get up close and personal with one of the most villainous characters Shakespeare portrayed?  Richard III runs through March 13, so about a week and a half to go.

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