I'm not going to pretend I understand what POLITICAL MOTHER, the latest (and pretty great) rock, modern dance show presented by Canadian Stage, is about. While watching it I was reminded of prisoners, both of war and of every day life, dictatorships, Hugo Chavez, Guerrilla Girls, PTSD, bi-polar disorder and loss. Quite eclectic.
Maybe none of that is correct, or perhaps all of it is, but I don't really think what's "correct" matters, I think it's more of your personal experience with the show that counts.
My personal experience taught me that the ensemble numbers with all of the dancers were my fav. Strength and power exuded both physically with their precise movements that changed dramatically on a dime, but also emotionally through their physical presence as a group on stage.
I couldn't take my eyes off of them and suddenly the music that was so loud it was felt in my chest, didn't seem so loud any more. I stopped trying to intellectualize what was happening and I just let their precision and grace wash over me; my favourite part of watching dance.
The last 10 (?) minutes of the show are a quick rewind of everything we'd seen so far. The dancers do the entire (mostly) show in reverse and on hyperspeed - and it's very cool.
One of the lead, and best, characters in this show is Lee Curran, the lighting designer. Curran created absolute beauty on stage and carried it through for the entire show. There wasn't one moment were the stage wasn't lit dramatically and effectively (except when the lights were off) and wasn't interesting to watch. It was stunning.
My personal experience also taught me to advise others to bring earplugs with them, especially if you're seated on either of the far sides of the orchestra. The music is LOUD. Intentionally so, but still.
This is modern dance not often seen in Toronto (Fortunately, Canadian Stage seems akin to that kind of thing) so get to it while you can!
POLITICAL MOTHER only graces us with her presence until October 28! See it at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (27 Front St. E.). For tickets call: 416-368-3110 or click here.
I confess that I really love Neil Simon plays. They never fail to make me laugh out loud even when I'm reading one of them, and the old lady in me finds it quite comfortable and refreshing to giggle at some good, clean if sometimes, cheesy humour.
LOST IN YONKERS isn't my favourite play by him (but it did earn him a Pulitzer) and I read it so long ago I forgot what much of it was about, so I was pleasantly surprised as I watched the production by the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company on stage now at the Jane Mallet Theatre.
The show started off slow but gradually warmed into a full, heartfelt performance about family and the often-confusing blood-ties that bind us.
Much of the play's charm can be credited to Finnerty Stevens, the last-minute casting for the character of Bella. Stevens replaced cast-member Linda Kash who had to bow-out of the role due to a sudden death in her family. Steven's portrayal of the seemingly simple and naive Bella, lit up the stage whenever she graced it, and was the emotional anchor of the show, providing the much-needed audience empathy for the sometimes unsympathetic Kurnitz family unit.
Marion Ross, the star-factor of the production was GREAT as the steely matriarch. I found her unrecognizable from any photo I've ever seen of her (including the one plastered all over the show's marketing materials), which I think added to her believability as the fierce matriarch who hatches vengeful ideas that "Damages'" Patty Hewes would be proud of. She created a character that you simultaneously loved and hated, never quite sure where your emotions should lie or how you would handle Grandmother if you had to go up against her yourself.
The supporting characters were all stage-worthy - shout-outs to the brief, yet hysterical role of Gert inhabited by Sheila McCarthy. She turned a schticky, small character into a person with depth, and to Uncle Louie (Ari Cohen) the fast-talking gangster who ruins his independent, care-free demeanor in the end by revealing his affection and concern for younger sister Bella.
Although some moments were over-acted and occasionally the humour was played more for the result than for anything else, LOST IN YONKERS was overall a good, clean night out at the theatre.
If somewhat cheesy at times. Just what a Neil Simon should be.
LOST IN YONKERS is on stage now at the Jane Mallet Theatre (27 Front St. E.) until June 10.
For tix call: 416-366-7723 or click here.