Monday, May 12, 2014



The current triumvirate of theatrical delight at the newly opened Theatre Centre is a marathon of intense theatricality that culminates in a wild ride through a macabre nostalgic ShakesPearean freak show. 

Beginning with a Kafka'esque corporate melange of movement, ruthless backstabbing and quirky heteronormative dialogue about wives and other objectified modes of desire, Business As Usual is beautifully performed by Victor Lukowski, Adam Paolozza, and Nicolas Di Gaetano. All three actors create mesmerizing physical presence as they weave an ensemble performance seamlessly directed by Lukawski. The script itself plays slight second banana to the cleverly choreographed use of props and set pieces, highlighted by an unforgettable sex scene between two desk lamps. 

For the most part text and physical prowess produces an erie and intriguing look up and down the corporate ladder. But there are times when the dialogue and rapid fire verbal warfare could use more textual nuance and character development. But at the end of this hour long barrage of relentless interrogation one is left with a medium and a message that is both haunting and engaging form start to finish.

ZOU Theatre Company

A surreal glance into the seedy underbelly of big business in a post -crash world, created by the company and directed by Viktor Lukawski (seen in Tarragon/TheatreRUN’s The Double and Old Trout Puppet Workshop’s Ignorance). A once-successful corporation is flying off the rails: the employees are running wild and the execs are drowning in the turbulent waves of their own excess. To the outside world, all is as it should be, but behind closed doors, a noose is tightening, tensions are rising, and the coffee pot is overflowing as this corporate Twilight Zone reaches unsustainable heights of madness. This is PTSD for the financial class. Lukawski is joined on stage by fellow co-creators Adam Paolozza (director/performer of The Double, Dora Award for Spent) and Nicolas Di Gaetano (seen in Ignorance, and the award winning Countries Shaped like Stars).

Ralph and Lina is a heartwarming, sharply physical performance piece for two characters that picks up on the great physical skill of the first offering of the evening. Dan Watson and Christina Serra have created a near mime like environment, with dialogue, with the support of writer/collaborator Michele Smith. The end result is a joyful, frequently up and down, near operatic story of struggling immigrants whose commitment to each other, and resourcefulness in a new and strange environment, is artfully reflected in the enormously engaging direction. Props, costumes, and set pieces conspire to create a truly startling and rewarding journey from one continent to another, from comic emotional mishap to charming interactive domestic bliss that brings the audience full circle in this delightful, timeless tale. Similar to the narrative of Business As Usual, there are times when the dialogue in Ralph and LIna might have investigated more complex notions surrounding immigrant experience. But the innocence and charm of the story win out as the characters capture each others hearts in the midst of a chaotic sequence of life changing events.

Ahuri Theatre

Produced by Dora Award winning Ahuri Theatre, is written by Michele Smith and real life husband and wife, Dan Watson (writer/director of Ahuri’s A Fool’s Life which earned six Dora nominations and won Outstanding Sound Design) and Christina Serra. The rough and tumble romance tells the true story of Serra’s grandparents – two Italian lovers and their struggles to stay together in the face of World War Two, forced immigration and old age. In the vein of early Fellini (La Strada), the award-winning creative team dives into their own family histories to explore notions of dependence and separation in a passionate acrobatic comedy that radically reinvents the modern melodrama. The play is directed by Smith and is performed by Watson and Serra.

Perhaps the most bizarre and startling production, placed wisely at the end of a long evening of unique theatre, comes in the form of two gifted performers of the clownish, stylized bouffant tradition. Nina Gilmour and Danya Buonastella are able to to push thier audince to the limits of expectation and onstage peculiarity, ultimately winning us over by the end through sheer physical determination, incredibly evocative makeup and costume, and an enormous charm and presence in the face of the truly gorgeous and the utterly grotesque. At one point near the end two spectators left the theatre during a particularly challenging baby scene. These challenging, uncomofrtable moments are brilliantly balanced as feminist strains filter in and out and provide the duo with the opportunity to reveal a riveting Ann Coulter inspired monologue that tears, with parodic brilliance, at right wing non-sensibility with clever and seething abandon. 
The recurring Ophelia/Desdemona theme gives the characters a strong foundation of nostalgia to work from, and yet, like all three offeings of the evening, lacks some narrative clarity that might have grounded them more firmly within their back stories. But once again, like the other two plays presented, the sheer physical brilliance of the performers and the ingenuity and genius of the direction brings it all to life in an action packed evening of unique and engaging physical theatre.
Play it Again Productions

Written by Danya Buonastella, Dean Gilmour, Nina Gilmour and Michele Smith (the latter three husband, daughter and wife who all performed in Theatre Smith-Gilmour’s Dora-nominated As I Lay Dying). This bouffon-inspired satire was a Patron’s Pick and held over as Best of Fringe (2013). It resurrects Shakespeare’s Ophelia and Desdemona from exile in the swamps of death to expose their “abusers” and “murderers,” and to destroy – with delight – the established values of a ‘Man’s’ society. It is directed by the Dora Award winning team of Michele Smith and Dean Gilmour and performed by recent graduates of École Philippe Gaulier: .

April 17th to May 18th, 2014 

at the Theatre Centre

1115 Queen St West

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