Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Theatre Theatre!

What is going on in the world of Torontonian Theatre?   I haven’t re-capped what I have seen in a while.

Before Christmas, a friend and I saw Arcadia: the Tom Stoppard rubik’s cube that still hurts my brain when I think about it.  It was so transcendentally intelligent as it switched between the present and a room of scholars and the Regency.  It was a wild maze of philosophy and romance and ideas and I have trouble winding my brain around all that happened.  It was more an exhilarating brain-dance than a night out at the theatre and I could deconstruct forever the platitudes it hoists itself upon and the vulnerable lows and depths it scrapes with its fluent and fragile word-span.

I loved it.

A friend and I saw Spring Awakening at the Lower Ossington a few weeks ago and I wasn’t sold on it.  Prior, I think the last Torontonian show I had seen was the usual Wicked launch that shows up every few years.

c/o the Star

On Saturday night, we trekked down to the Berkeley to see How Do I Love Thee: a painfully beautiful exploration of the tragic love between creative forces Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.   Honestly, it was wrenching. First, it was light and airy as correspondence was exchanged between the two poets, name-dropping Wordsworth and Coleridge, and their letters (literally) filling the air.  To add, the director staged bawdy innuendo that flitted in perfect beat alongside the passionate letters crossing between them.   They intersected---emotionally and creatively--- and eventually decided to marry and take off to Italy. Penniless.  But, once they wed, Barrett Browning (Ba, to her friends) showed a side more Kubla Khan than Westminster Bridge: she was addicted to opium to laudanum and to brandy.   A love story more like a wretched passion piece, How Do I Love Thee takes the idea of two people trapped in a marriage unsure of how to make their creative minds soar while bound to the expectations of each other, their patrons and the world.  It also delves deep into the heart of addiction: made more tenuous by the fact that it propels creative juice.

One of the most vibrant and sensual pieces of theatre I have seen--- it is equal parts lusty and erudite, passionate and sizzling ---it buzzes with words and the two titular characters step into the skin of these Victorian romantics and move around so comfortably I was surprised I wasn’t watching an age-old film reel.

Definitely made me want to exhume all the bare bones knowledge I had on both from my time at University.

c/o Manitoba Theatre Centre 

Last night I saw the pre-Broadway production of The Heart of Robin Hood: a Shakespearian, cross-dressing acrobatic affair which reimagines the legend in more of the BBC vein than the Errol Flynn. Here, it is Marion who is the brains and guts behind the outlaw operation,  two steps ahead of the weaselly Prince John and the maniacal Guy of Gisborne.  Featuring the anachronistic musical flare of Parsonsfield, it is a buoyant but odd production that was a little too pantomime for my taste. That being said, the staging and the lush green set (used to within an inch of its life ) was breath-taking to behold.
I quite enjoy re-imagining Marian as a cross-dressing, sword-wielding force of nature more at home in the forest than in the traditional upscale life meted out for her in the castle.  There was a nice zest of feminism here tempered with the slow, expected romance---- but even as they wed you know that Robin will meet her on equal terms.

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