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The Colony of Unrequited Dreams

Nothing Unrequited Here – Love for a “Rock”-Solid Production

With all due respects to Mr. Telford—who did an admirable job back in the day in my gifted history program—if only all Canadian history was this dynamic and entertaining, we’d have a nation that truly appreciates the richness, diversity, and—yes—intrigue of our national past. Fortunately, we have productions like Artistic Fraud’s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams to bring our past—both real and imagined—to vivid and entertaining life.

Ostensibly, the play is the story of Joseph Smallwood, the self-proclaimed Last Father of Confederation who is best remembered as the person who spearheaded the drive to bring Newfoundland into Canadian confederation in 1949. Colony is not …

Art

Art: From a Blank Canvas Springs a Multi-Hued, Multi-Layered Delight

Art is, on the surface, the story of a trio of friends who are forced to re-evaluate their beliefs, their actions, and the very foundation of their friendship, precipitated by one character’s purchase of a white-on-white painting. But despite the monochromatic nature of the catalyst, the play is one imbued with rich hues of colour and texture, thanks to a combination of flawless performances, and deft direction and lighting.

The stage itself is minimalist by design. The three actors interact on a starkly adorned set: a couple of grey couches, a pair of movable drops (which are manipulated by the actors with skill and alacrity to mark location transitions), and a black …

Cherry Docs

Ninety minutes is not a lot of time to unpack the motivations behind racism, the challenges of balancing social responsibility with personal beliefs, and exploring personal growth and understanding. And though the Procunier Hall venue should serve as an ideal setting for such a study of intimate emotions, Cherry Docs suffers from a superficiality that’s magnified by acting, directorial, and set-related challenges.

Cherry Docs is the story of Danny (Kyle Stewart), a liberal Jewish lawyer assigned to be the legal aid representation of skinhead Mike (Derek Barr) who has confessed to the murder of an Asian restaurant employee. The production centres around the interaction between the two as they deal with their individual demons and try to …

Jenny’s House of Joy

Prostitution may be the world’s oldest profession, but it’s also one with its own ideas of propriety, ambition and politics. This play is an enjoyable exploration of that kind of life, a comic tale with a refreshingly non-judgmental tone laced with a genuine humanity.

In the Old West, Jenny (Colleen McGeough) runs a successful brothel with the naively socially ambitious Anita (Bronwyn Wilson) and the hard bitten Frances (Charlene McNabb) as her employees. Suddenly, the refined and desperate Natalie (Kaitlyn Rietdyk) comes pleading for a job and proves, after some adjustment, to be surprisingly talented at the profession. However, Frances suspects there will be trouble ahead with this addition, and it does come, both from within and without.

Considering that …

The Secret Garden

Modern adaptations of classics of children’s literature can be a minefield, with sometimes jarring cultural attitudes or a numbing preciousness that has nothing to relate to. Thankfully, this does not apply to this play, which is tuneful and even moving story about a girl learning the power that can come from empathy and personal faith in an ideal guided with a little perspective.

After being orphaned in an cholera epidemic …

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me

Being a prisoner in too many countries can involve extreme privation for an agonizingly long and indefinite time. To cope, you might have only your own mind and what it can provide for some kind of way to maintain your humanity. This play is a creative, if rather slow, psychological drama of a trio of such prisoners trying to do just that.

In the early 1990s, two prisoners in Beirut—American Adam Canning (Jeremy Hewitson) and Irishman Edward Sheridan (John Reid)—have been confined for some time with little hope of release. Now, they have a companion, Briton Michael Watters (Stephen Flindall) who is now in the same situation. With nothing else to do, the trio use their imaginations to the utmost as they find some solace in …

La Ronde

Love is an emotion often rife with impulse, pretensions and deceptions depending who is both expressing it and reacting to it. This play is a passably entertaining linked anthology of characters in various romantic situations even when the material struggles to make an emotional connection.

In 1914 London, Ontario, romance is in the air for all sorts of people. To illustrate that, there is a series of episodes where romantic assignations occur throughout the city with the newcomer of the previous story meeting someone in their own encounter. In each, there are plenty of the same elements including flowers, sweets, and promises they don’t intend to keep …

Joni Mitchell: River

Appreciating Joni’s Lyrics and Music

The show Joni Mitchell: River is the season opener on stage at London’s Grand Theatre. Before I can tell you about it, I need to tell you what it’s not.

It’s not the story of Joni’s life; there are no words spoken, nor any account acted. It’s not an impersonation or impression of Joni; each singer is himself or herself. It’s not a re-creation of Joni’s songs; none of the songs actually sound like Joni. It’s not a musical; it’s a concert.

Now, here’s what Joni Mitchell: River is—it is an enchanting evening, presenting a fascinating interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s songs. It is three powerful singers who draw you into the lyrics. It is four impressive musicians interpreting the compositions.

If you grew up listening to Joni on pop radio in the 1970s, you might not recognize the songs in this show—there are several I’m …

The History Boys

The History Boys Shows London’s Theatrical Future is in Good Hands

If anything, Calithumpian Theatre Co.’s inaugural production, The History Boys, shows that the future of local theatre is promising, courtesy of a well-paced, entertaining production of the Alan Bennett play.

Some outstanding youthful casting, complemented by a pair of key performances from more veteran actors and deft direction by John Gerry, ensured that the two-hour-and-40-minute-long preview performance of the play thoroughly entertained.

The History Boys is a play about the contrast between learning and education, set in a British grammar school. A supply teacher is brought in by an aggressive, results-seeking headmaster to complement the teachings of an eccentric English teacher. It pits the headmaster’s desire to …

Prelude to a Kiss

For the happiest of couples, the time when one doesn’t seem like themselves to the other can be the most sustained traumatic time to test any love. This play is a powerful fantasy about one such couple facing a bizarrely premature version of that situation, one told with emotional heft and special insight.

After a young man named Peter (Matt Green) meets and falls in love with the eccentric cynical woman Rita (Charlotte Weeks), they agree to be married. However at the wedding, an elderly stranger (Alan Legg) requests a kiss from the bride and something strange happens. Suddenly, Rita acts nothing like …