Friday, September 22, 2023


A masterful ensemble takes the stage and immediately draws the audience into a mesmerizing kind of corporate rapture, doublespeak, and high stakes ecological impairment as one watches Michael Healey's brilliant new script take flight in a unique blend of theatre and high tech power point presentation that balances evenly and seamlessly with the onstage action scrambling below.

 The entire cast shines with intense energy and a mistakenly placed birthday-cakeface standout moment nearing the end as one of the performers moves breathlessly and manically through intricate, breakneck blocking with their leg in a cast and a seamless, unbreakable, comic flair. 

Recent news of the greenbelt debacle and its surprising yet welcome turnaround in the hands of a suddenly apologetic real estate mongering premiere, alongside frequent news regarding a plot of geodesic dome- covered, former semi-amusement park memories resting on island-like landfill being stolen from the 'public' by Northern European spa enthusiasts, when the landfill perhaps never should have been put there in the first place and the land was stolen land in the first place - all of these run-on monumental tidbits become the mocking merriment of earth-shattering dirt re-arranging that indirectly-cum-directly connects to the woes of Toronto as an ever-growing urban carnivale-like assortment of waterfront (and beyond) developments that have been littering the political and geographic landscape for decades. 

As Healey's script points out, with its impressive mass of historical/political information, the century old re-direction of  the Don River, and the ensuing problems with that unsound environmental move, plays a part in Healey's satirically drawn script as the big waterfront players collide on a crash course with Google and its plans for a SMART future for urban centres replete with moveable sidewalks, potentially unwieldy data storage, and views of a lake that must be exhausted by all of the age-old, unnatural changes to its immense, breathtaking shoreline. Remember when Front Street was a beach and the island wasn't an island? Google it!

And then there's the Gardiner Expressway as it makes a cameo appearance with its own tale of woesome, un-winsomely handled land acknowledgement - rich in colonizing intent within a not so subtle sub-text as the final moments refer to a deal made with indigenous land stewards that becomes redundant in the hands of the fumbling corporate players on both sides of the US/Canadian border.



Based on JOSH O'KANES book Sideways: The City Google Couldn't Buy THE MASTER PLAN is far beyond my reach of political intelligence and information intake, which is a very good thing for challenged spectators such as myselfbecause it plays with the facts, delights and appalls the imagination with ingenious theatrical flair, and takes the stage in a spectacular array of blocking and technology masterfully arranged by director Chris Abraham and a team of actors and arts technicians/designers in a way that leaves one breathless with an entertaining mixture of disgust, dismay, bewilderment and glee with each new morsel of factually based big business repartee and real estate wrangling. 

And all of this motivates one to read the book, do the research, and learn more and more about the ongoing machinations of a city - of so many cities in turmoil - on a planet where urban development has consistently ravaged the land as we try to imagine climate change as just another challenge for the ages - and if there is anything we can possibly do about it.

And then there's the priceless fleeting little remark about New York City's much lauded - yet infrequently critiqued as  unremarkable - High Line (and surrounding over-priced environs) that jumps out at you and tickles the not so funny bone in a most delightfully scathing way.



In 2017, when the public agency Waterfront Toronto decided to put up a parcel of land for development, Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s Alphabet Inc., swept in with a proposal to create the city of the future. Waterfront Toronto jumped at the opportunity to advance housing sustainability and affordability by exploring Alphabet’s innovative technology and data-driven techniques. But the project quickly started to fall apart from uneasy partnerships, sclerotic local politics, and an overwhelmingly negative public response.

In this biting comedy about the failure to build a smart city in Toronto, Michael Healey lampoons the corporate drama, epic personalities, and iconic Canadian figures involved in the messy affair between Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto. Based on the bestselling expos√©, Sideways: The City Google Couldn't Buy by Josh O’Kane, The Master Plan exposes the hubris of big tech, the feebleness of government, and the dangers of public consultation with sharp wit and insightful commentary.

Crow’s Theatre presents

The World Premiere of a New Comedy
Written by Michael Healey
Based on Sideways: The City Google Couldnt Buy by Josh O’Kane
Directed by Chris Abraham

Featuring Christopher Allen, Ben Carlson, Philippa Domville, Peter Fernandes, Yanna McIntosh, Tara Nicodemo, Mike Shara
September 5 to October 8, 2023 (HELDOVER UNTIL OCTOBER 15TH)


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