Community, conflict & discovery in New Ideas funny & poignant Week 3 program

NIF 2016It’s the final week of Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival (NIF),  and the Week 3 program features an extra bonus show: a lobby play. So get to the theatre early (around 7:30 p.m. to get a good spot in the lobby near the staircase to the mainstage) for this extra NIF treat.

The Nurse (lobby playby Francine Dick, directed by Mandy Roveda and featuring actor Margaret Rose Keery). A delightful short solo piece, and very meta as actor Keery plays an actor reluctantly preparing for a callback for Romeo and Juliet. She starts out being certain she’s not right for the part, but as she enlists assistance from the audience to read with her while she prepares – against her will – she learns something about the part and possibly about herself. Strong, engaging work from Keery.

Provenance (by Linda McCready, directed by Pam Redfern). Disillusioned chef Alicia (Fleur Jacobs) has high hopes when she makes a trip to Webster’s Falls with art professor Martin (Eric Edquist), who she hopes will authenticate a painting she plans to sell in order to fund her own Italian restaurant. Jacobs brings a lovely sense of sass and adventurousness as Alicia; and Edquist’s is adorkable as the awkward, precise and decidedly not outdoorsy professor. A sweet two-hander with some interesting and surprising discoveries.

Trying (by Norma Crawford, directed by Juliet Paperny). The double meaning of the title of this very funny and touching play becomes evident very quickly as three at-risk young adults wait for their yoga teacher (part of a mandated social services program). Great work all around from the cast: Michelle T. Baynton as the energetic, medicated handful Tracey; Adam Malcolm as the new guy Brent, conflicted and itching to get to the casino; Evan Walsh as the sweet, introverted misfit Jimmy; Susannah Mackay as the troubled, mysterious surprise guest Lily; and Annie McKay as their put-upon, prim teacher Beth. All are struggling to find their way – even the teacher.

Sick Kids Wanna Talk to You (by Carolyn Bennett, directed by Jennifer McKinley). A Sick Kids hospital street canvasser goes head to head with an irate passerby. Great combination of hilarity and devastating honesty, with a stand-out cast: Wendy Fox has excellent comic delivery and spunk as canvasser Makayla; and Lydia Kiselyk goes well beyond the straight man wither her performance of Joan, a woman of hawk-like intensity and focus, with more brewing beneath her tightly wound surface. As their initial adversarial dynamic shifts and changes, both come to important realizations.

Four Hours (by Joan Burrows, directed by Helen Munroe). An abduction? A carjacking? When a neighbour’s young child goes missing, local residents pull together and apart. Hoping for the best for the missing boy, residents can’t help but fear this is just one more example of how crime and safety have become critical issues in their area. The play pulls from the headlines (a very recent one, coincidentally) of amber alerts and discrimination, particularly against Muslim immigrants, as secrets and fears emerge among neighbourhood residents. Lovely work from this ensemble cast: Samantha Adams, Armand Antony, Nikki Chohan, Julia Haist, Mitchell Janiak, Tina McCulloch, Zachary McKendrick, Chris Peterson and Rebecca Wolfe. Stand-outs include Janiak, as young new resident Shu, the narrator of the story; and Chohan as Farah, the neighbourhood newcomer who’s forced to defend her own son against residents’ suspicions. Conflict, confessions and closure in this moving, insightful play.

Community, conflict and discovery in New Ideas funny and poignant Week 3 program.

The Week Three program continues to March 27, with talkbacks following the Saturday matinée performance. Also on Sat, Mar 26 is the noon reading:  Omission (by Alice Abracen,  directed by Michela Sisti).

For ticket info, visit the website. Tickets can also be reserved by calling the box office at 416-364-4170 (press 1) or in-person one hour before show time (cash only). Advance booking strongly recommended; this is a popular festival and the Studio is an intimate space.

Check out the Week 3 trailer:

 

Sex, magic, intrigue & spies in New Ideas Week One program

NIF2014-banner-1024x725A new year and another edition of Alumnae Theatre Company’s New Ideas Festival of original, short plays.

Caught the Week One program last night. Sex, magic, intrigue and spies figured prominently in this week’s roster of plays – here’s what was on the menu:

Be Careful, There’s a Baby in the House, by Nicholas Sgouros and directed by Seane M. Speake, is a sharp, fun commentary on modern family life. What starts out as a pre-planned – and secret – night of passion becomes something else entirely. Sex After Kids meets The Honest Toddler. Nice work from actors Andre de Carvalho, Caroline Concordia and Sara Jackson.

Elsa and Marigold, by Marissa Spada and directed by Janet Kish, is the story of two hormone-driven, romantic-minded and curious teen girls whose attempt at creating the perfect man takes an unexpected turn, all under the cloaked and watchful eye of their Headmistress. Meagan Tuck and Julie Cohn do a nice job of capturing the energy of the young women, and Arianna Leask is both sexy and mysterious as their crop-wielding Headmistress.

I’m Still Here, by Ramona Baillie and directed by Dahlia Katz, brings more sexy intrigue when an aging movie starlet, anxious to not disappear from the public eye, surprises an ambitious young journalist looking to make a name for himself with a hot story. Great work from Susan Q. Wilson as the still fetching movie star Dahlia Day, and Adam Cresswell as the driven, cynical journalist Tyler Watts. And Razie Brownstone is a delight as Dahlia’s impish housekeeper Maria. We need to have more plays where we hear Brownstone say: “X-rated photos!”

In a Time of War, by Anne MacMillan and directed by Brett Haynes, is a tale of adventure and intrigue, set against the backdrop of WWII Scotland, as two imaginative young girls make a discovery after a bombing raid. This is also a story of family, friendship, and keeping a stalwart heart in the face of fear and loss. Will be interested to see where this one goes – great possibilities for a full-length play. Shouts to Jordi O’Dael and Annelise Hawrylak for their very convincing portrayal of the energetic girls Elspeth and Pat, and to Kit Boulter (Elspeth’s mother Rose), Reese Presley (Elspeth’s father Will), Morna Wales (Grandma Tess) and Franz Robinow (Grandpa Mungo) for their engaging and entertaining performances as the grown-ups.

The Week One reading – Norma Crawford’s Royal Seasons, directed by Nina Kay – has its performance today (Mar 15) at noon.

All happening up in the Alumnae Theatre studio, the New Ideas Festival Week One program runs until tomorrow (Mar 16) – to be followed by the Week Two (Mar 19-23) and Week Three (Mar 26-30) programs and readings. Reservations are strongly recommended as this is a popular festival.

Call 416-364-4170 or visit the Tickets page on the Alumnae website.