Friday, September 28, 2012


I am an animal...

A playful quality,  drawing one into the beginnings of D.A. Hoskin's I am an Animal, is a delightful and deceiving introduction to a powerful piece of dance theatre that dares to move from fancy free to furiously quirky and romantically challenged at the drop of a hat. Cabbage patches (romaine in fact, but cabbage sounds better) and sofas unite as a quintet of dancers take turns at mesmerizing spectators with a panoply of movement and vocalization that interrogates the naked body with precision, athletic endurance, and beautifully nuanced movement. Hoskins has created solos and duets for his ensemble that flow with such precision and sensitivity from each inidivdual body - it feels like the movement has been created as a unique, personalized gift for each performer to skillfully unwrap.

from L to R - Fabien Piche, Paul Charbonneau, Andrew Hartley, Mariana Medellin- Meinke, Emily Law

Fabien Piche commands the stage with a powerfully ambiguous gender presence, impeccable technical prowess, and disarmingly  beautiful vocals that allow him to inhabit a variety of complex choreographic roles. Paul Charbonneau possesses an athletically defined ethereal quality in one solo segment as his intensely, measured, introverted, and fluid movements travel delicately through a soft, formidably haunting sequence. Andrew Hartley initiates the many magical moments of nudity - moving in and out of clothing, with the help of the ensemble, with a kind of unassuming grace and exquisite, limber, subtlety that infuses his performance with an emotionally and physically engaged presence. Mariana Medellin-Meinke delights the eye and ear as she races, cavorts, and softly engages with Hartley in a sensual duet. Her comic timing and her amazing agility render her role a strong, unabashed study in a diverse form of corporeal dignity. Emily Law rounds out the ensemble as her hair and body are rendered mutable and irresistible bodily agents that she very skillfully manipulates through gorgeous movement and a piercing, enviable charm. When Fabien Piche delivers a series of frank, at times comic love quips to her, the stage becomes a kind of kinetic tableau vivant testament to the intricate nature of love, romance, feigned disenchantment, and the will to control one's frequently fickle romantic destiny.

The ensemble is aided by diverse musical selections ranging from Streisand to Roberta Flack, giving the overall piece a kind of nostalgic dance/slumber party feel (of the erogenous kind) that includes an onstage turntable beside a sofa large enough for all five performers to lounge and laze as they move toward an unexpectedly poignant and gorgeously written finale - a finale possesses a brief monologic segment that tugs at the heartstrings with a relentless and moving charm. Written by Hoskins himself, this   celebratory, requiem-like segment adds a rich, moving texture that acts as a beautiful counterpoint to the dominant playfulness of the choreography -

the beginning of one’s finality of desire
is when one dies.
not as easy as one thinks
It can be hard work to die... 

It is an exquisite death
It is an exquisite death

the recognition of this fleeting existence...

And so what do we do?
we graze
we graze

Ultimately, the piece is framed by a disarming joviality that impeccably cushions the full frontal eclecticism Hoskins is famous for. With wardrobe coordination by Mikey G. and 'mother nature' this is a sexy, exciting, funny, and poignant selection of explosive meditations from the Dietrich Group that embraces jovial interplay and beautifully reverent/elegiac moments addressing romance and mortality in a provocative, enlightening, and thoroughly entertaining way.  

running at the Citadel at 305 Parliament until Saturday Septemebr 29th

Thursday, September 27, 2012


“It is not exactly factually autobiographical. It is emotionally autobiographical.”

David French

Alistair MacLeod's No Great Mischief, currently running at Tarragon Theatre, is a very moving and precariously joyful journey concerning the semi-fictional lives of the MacDonald clan. Through a series of scenes that move back and forth between past and present encounters, R.H. Thomson and David Fox lead a stellar cast of characters, against all odds, toward a strangely life-affirming end. Fox runs the gamut of emotions with superb vocal skill and physicalization. One scene has him seated beside Thomson during an explosive narrative moment that reads like a gorgeous example of modern dance theatre as two powerful masculine bodies  deliver impeccable emotion, then fall silent long enough to render a memorable and moving tableau.

Mike Ross (composer) and Todd Charlton (sound designer) have orchestrated a series of wonderful musical interludes and tumultuous sound effects that punctuate the closeness of a family and a community struggling to survive. Playing multiple roles, the ensemble sings, dances, and acts their way in and out of a variety of familial dysfunctions that reveal the tight knit, topsy turvy world of a clan the playwright considers to be "the Celtics football team of their time...the big team [who] really affected history, because if they would go, or wouldn't go, or would support you or not support you, it would change things."

J.D. Nicholsen and John Dolan as the grandfathers are diverse studies in paternal order. Their presence in the ensemble moves seamlessly in and out of minor roles, always veering skillfully back toward the strong, distinct symbols of grandfatherly grace and love that holds the family together. 

Ben Irvine's California cousin brings an energy to the second act that raises the stakes and moves spectators toward a powerful, double-edged realization that our American cohorts have played multi-faceted and wildly entertaining parts in our collective Canadian lives. Irvine's rendition of The Times they are a Changin', with the aid of the entire ensemble, exemplifies the immaculately directed, choreographed sequences that bring a powerful musical subtext to the overall piece. Director Richard Rose, with the aid of Charlotte Dean's beautifully evocative set and costumes, has created a truly inventive and powerful collection of scenes that rely upon a form of performance oriented theatrical strategies that utilize the stage as a kind of studio/workshop for the exploration of complex familial interaction.

Stephen Guy-McGrath and Daniel Giverin provide further diversity through music, dance and secondary characterization that rounds out the troupe with physical and vocal diversity and flair. 

Nicola Lipman, as the lone feminine presence, is strong throughout, and has a powerful and moving scene with R.H. Thomson so skillfully written and performed that it becomes one of those bittersweet life affirming moments that teaches spectators so much about memory, love, and aging.

In an upstairs room at Tarragon, until the end of this month, a tribute to David French speaks multitudes on the heritage so many Canadian playwrights have crafted from their lives and the lives around them. One quote rings true for so much great drama. As French has said about his own dramaturgy chronicling the lives of The Mercer family - “It is not exactly factually autobiographical. It is emotionally autobiographical.” Both French and MacLeod have mastered the art of storytelling in the theatre in a multi-facted way that embraces a kind of universalized heritage that bears the marks of a distinctly 'Canadian' experience - as that experience draws from a variety of cultural truths and semi-fictions.  

No Great Mischief runs until October 21st

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Julie Sits Waiting

It's all sweat and flesh...
 It's violence and death...
 It's love at first sight.

In a house under renovation, Julie and Mick discover extraordinary intimacy - and colossal disaster.

Julie Sits Waiting is dirty opera: the tape gritty and raw, the voices both cracked and lyrical, offering a rare and intimate experience in Theatre Passe Muraille's Backspace.

Good Hair Day’s current production of Julie Sits Waiting is an intimate, expressionistic tour de force performed by seasoned performers in full command of their finely honed vocal and physical skills. Fides Krucker as Julie and Richard Armstrong as her moody paramour deliver intricate performances that range from bold, lyrical operatic strokes of great beauty to corporeal contortions and powerful stylized vocalizations that move spectators far beyond the boundaries of traditional opera and into a panoply of sight and sound, gradually building toward a powerful climax. Composer Louis Dufort has created a complex, penetrating score that challenges performer and spectator alike as a non-stop panorama of mixed emotion emerges throughout.

Tom Walmsley’s spare, poetic libretto, combining forms of conversational naturalism with poetic disjuncture, is well suited to the impact of Heidi Strauss’s and Alex Fallis’s tightly blocked, intricately conceived direction. Projection design by Jeremy Mimnagh, lighting design by Rebecca Picherak, with sets and costumes by Teresa Przybylski are in perfect sync with the overall sense of an expressionistic mise en scene that moves brilliantly toward a moving and explosive finale. 

Coming in at sixty-seven minutes and confined by the dark, rough rectangle of Theatre Passe Muraille’s backspace, Julie Sits Waiting is a small gem of complex proportions, bursting at the seams at every moment, giving the audience prolonged moments of spectacular sound and projection as the actors leave the stage, only to return to the fully engaged, and darkly invigorating story they tell through an incredibly diverse storehouse of physical and vocal brilliance. 

Armstrong’s deep rich operatic tones, at times moving into a kind of elegantly high pitched cry, are matched by Krucker’s ability to skillfully move across the stage and deliver a variety of sounds simultaneously lyrical, crackling, and sublime. Julie Sits Waiting suggests a kind of introverted inertia as the opera begins with a lone, seated woman. From thereon in, sitting is the antithesis to what happens in this finely crafted, smoldering operatic drama.

Libretto by Tom Walmsley, Music composed by Louis Dufort
Starring Richard Armstrong and Fides Krucker
presented by Good Hair Day Productions, in association with The Theatre Centre
Directed by Alex Fallis and Heidi Strauss
Set and costume design by Teresa Przybylski
Video design by Jeremy Mimnagh
Lighting design by Rebecca Picherack
Sound diffusion by Darren Copeland
Stage Manager: Sandy Plunkett
Co-Producer: Aislinn Rose

September 14-23, 2012 at Theatre Passe Muraille's BackSpace, 16 Ryerson Ave.

Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30pm & Sunday at 2pm
Tickets: Wednesday & Thursday at 7:30pm: $30; Sunday at 2pm: $30 in advance or Pay-What-You-Can at the door;
Friday & Saturday at 7:30pm: $40

For tickets, call the Arts Box Office at 416-504-7529 or visit
Visit for further information.