Okay, so – wow. Still wrapping my brain around the vast array of theatre I saw in three very different shows this past Friday night/weekend.
Friday night was Hart House Theatre /Canopy Theatre’s production of Lysistrata – the sex strike at their usual spot along Philosopher’s Walk. This is a frolicking modern adaptation of Aristophanes by Germaine Greer and Phil Willmott, directed for Canopy by Andrea Wasserman. Sexy, fun and political – women from all sides of the battle take over Athens during wartime, banding together to withhold sex from their husbands and lovers until a peace treaty is signed. Sexual politics galore in Act II, during which all the men are visibly hot and bothered under their bath towels – some more noticeably so than others – and getting no relief.
The large ensemble cast includes Claire Acott, Anna Black, Kathleen Black, Andrea Blakey, Rob Bril, Rob Candy, Josh Cornwell-Mott, Dylan George, Thomas Gough, Gaby Grice, Carolyn Hall, Conor Hefferon, Chris Murray, Brian Postalian, Natalie Novak, Lesley Robertson, Lauren Shepherd, Laura Vincent and Nicole Wilson. My Alum pals will recognize Candy, Hall, Hefferon and Vincent – from various Alumnae Theatre productions, including New Ideas.
Lysistrata – the sex strike closed on Saturday, so if you missed it, look out for them next year. In the meantime, you can check out the rest of the Hart House season: http://www.harthouse.ca/hart-house-theatre
Saturday, I got out to my first SummerWorks show You Should Have Stayed Home, written and performed by Tommy Taylor, and directed by Michael Wheeler. The play is a first-hand account of Taylor’s arrest and detention during the G20 in Toronto last year, adapted from his 11,000-word Facebook post on his experience. It’s mostly a one-man show, but he also includes a chorus of detainees (which included Sochi Fried, among others). The show is billed as a G20 romp – and this holds true in that it’s not as grim as the subject matter might imply. Having said that, it’s a seriously inspiring, moving – and, yes, funny – piece of storytelling. The grim part is that it really happened – and it shouldn’t have. Many of us only know about what happened during the G20 through the news reports and footage we saw. Taylor was there – and it’s an important personal story to hear. You Should Have Stayed Home continues this week at the Theatre Centre as part of the SummerWorks festival: www.facebook.com/G20Romp
On Sunday I saw another SummerWorks show, Little One, based on some word-of-mouth and the fact that I got a postcard from one of the production folks when I was at Tommy’s show on Saturday. Written by Hannah Moscovitch and directed/dramaturged by Natasha Mytnowych, and featuring actors Joe Cobden and Michelle Monteith, and young pianist Kaylie Lau, this is an intense family drama with some dark comic moments, accompanied by a haunting live soundtrack supplied by Lau on a toy piano. The story focuses on an adopted brother/sister dynamic within a family that is terrorized and torn by the sister’s mental illness, possibly the result of an abusive early childhood with her birth parents that she can’t or won’t remember. Tender and terrible at the same time – a very powerful piece of theatre. Little One also continues at SummerWorks this week – see the festival site for details: http://www.summerworks.ca/2011/festival-theatre.php Also, check out this piece about Moscovitch and the play from the Globe & Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/theatre/what-upstages-canadian-playwright-hannah-moscovitch-try-an-elk/article2120153/
The other great thing about summer theatre festivals is the folks you see in the audience and/or out and about. This weekend, I saw a whole bunch of theatre-related folks: Rosemary Dunsmore, Judith Thompson, Linda Griffiths, Joseph Ziegler, Nancy Palk, Rick Roberts, Jon Kaplan, Tal Gottfried, Jenny Young and my pal Heather Allin (who acted in a New Ideas play Tommy Taylor directed a few years ago – Asleep at the Wheel).
I’ll be out at a couple more this week, as well as Driftwood Theatre’s production of Macbeth. What would you recommend at SummerWorks?