Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The current double bill of Daniel MacIvor's Here Lies Henry and Monster, running at Factory Theatre until mid-December, is a seamless and action packed study in the art of the emotional roller coaster - with touches of stand-up, horror movie, psychological word play, and a very complex perspective on ways in which story-telling and truth-telling inhabit (and 'un' inhabit) each other in unexpected ways that both thrill and perplex spectators in a moving and entertaining way. 

The presentation of these two very different 70 to 80 minute scripts compliment each other through the power of solo performances by Karl Ang (Monster) and Damien Atkins (Henry...), and reveal MacIvor's (with Daniel Brooks as collaborator) timeless talents for delving into the psyches of complex personalities, and their takes on the world at large.

Karl Ang takes on, in a skilful and engaging way, the voices of several characters that inhabit a harrowing childhood experience, and the accompanying graphically described scene from a gruesome film that has informed the central characters lives, as well as the intersectional presence of the horror film as a genre and a life experience. Ang is a master of vocal versatility and draws spectators in with a clear and powerful performance.

Atkins delivers a more playful, yet equally as mesmerizing performance thorough the character of Henry - a complicated mess of a man who is simultaneously endearing and infuriating as he rambles through a series of meditations on being alive, confused, and intent upon telling truth through lies, laced with the looming presence of mortality though another form of lying - as in horizontally inclined. He is especially engaging through the use of extreme physical agility as he is directed by Tawiah McCarthy with a very clear and expertly calculated finesse - at times dancing and moving about with an elegant comic grace and diverse physicality. Soheil Parsa's direction in Monster is equally adept at bringing precise and punctuating blocking, as well as fine emotional layering to the characters Ang so brilliantly inhabits.

Having seen the original productions with MacIvor in the roles, it might make sense to compare the varied performances. And yet there is no comparison. Gifted actors like MacIvor, Ang, and Atkins do justice to these complex scripts. From what I can remember, MacIvor brought a unique and singular energy to the roles that gave the theatrical solo performance experience a meta-theatrical tone and through-line, brought about by MacIvor's prolific output as writer and performer. Ang and Atkins bring more of an actor'ly presence, delving into specific character and emotional layers, while MacIvor inhabited the voice of the writer and actor through a kind of performance monologue technique that defies traditional notions of theatrical enterprise. Clearly, it is difficult to articulate the differences, and yet the mounting of these two productions reveals the timelessness of the scripts, and the ways in which they can be brought to life decades later by a brilliant production team.

The shows can be seen as a double bill or on separate evenings. For dates and times see;


Here Lies Henry (2006)

Produced by

Da Da Kamera

Presented by

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

PlaywrightDaniel MacIvor
Daniel Brooks


The Alexander Street Chamber Theatre


September 19th, 2006 – October 15th, 2006


An idyllic SORT OF miserable SORT OF nightmarish SORT OF story book SORT OF remarkable SORT OF regular SORT OF story. A man alone in a room with a mission to tell you something you don’t already know.

With Here Lies Henry, MacIvor gives voice to the character of Henry, a self-confessed liar. Henry rambles with a mixture of energy and fun. He’s a thirty-something optimist who ponders the meaning and pointlessness of life. He begins slowly by revealing things about himself, such as his childhood, his homosexuality, and his lies. He claims his assignment is to tell the audience something they don’t already know. Since Henry is a professional liar, it’s difficult to distinguish between his lies and the truth. Presented in a minimalist style familiar to da da kamera audiences, one actor, light and sound combine to give an atmosphere of intimacy breaking down the fourth wall and making the audience feel like they are part of the drama. That is to say, making them feel like they are part of Henry’s world which of course, they are. MacIvor cannily distills the human condition and seesaws hilariously between truth and lies, and more lies. (, 2006).



Monster, a one-man play, begins in the total darkness of a movie theatre. After a long silence, someone in the audience rudely shushes his neighbour, and the show begins. Daniel MacIvor transforms himself into a series of characters whose lives seem eerily related. There’s the young boy who tells the story of the neighbour lad who hacked up his father in the basement. There are alcoholic Al and shiny Janine, the lovers who quarrel, make up, and decide to marry after seeing a movie about a lad who … well, same thing. There’s the ex-drunk who dreamed up the movie, but got no credit because he was said to have stolen the idea from a famous unfinished film, a claim that so angered him that he went back on the sauce. And there’s the movie maker who made that incomplete epic.” 

                                                                    - Philadelphia Inquirer



Sunday, November 19, 2023

l-r - Pye, Bateman, Monet "The Very Unauthorized biographies - available at a fictional bookstore near you



Rob Wilkes, of Big Sky Design, has created a thoroughly engaging and aesthetically beautiful  multi-faceted structure for Jono Pye’s new website - highlighting in diverse ways through the use of moving images, and easily accessible categories, a variety of work ranging from still life to landscapes, portraits, bicycles, and comic book characters. 

Pye’s immense energy and love for an eclectic array of styles is brought together through a combination of the serious and the playful found in any given work - whether it be the colourful countenance of the most infamous member of The Group of Seven, or the ways in which landscape simultaneously separates and coheres in a decidedly Cezanne’esque manner, through the use of carefully executed, delicately divided brush strokes that display vibrant depth and infectious colour.

In his design for the website Wilkes has showcased his keen sense of continuity and visual engagement, making an online tour of the artists work a refreshing journey through hue and form. 

Pye continues to create work that gives life and enjoyment to the perception of everyday objects, from saxophones to apples, peaches, pets, bikes, barns, and the never ending serio-comic qualities of the human body in all its complicated glory. 

Rendering portraits of revered artists from the past, as well as favourite characters from the beloved Archie comic book series reveals a paradoxically cohesive eclecticism that  is brilliantly showcased in a website that adds a new layer of creativity and imagination to a lifelong process.

And writing Pye’s unauthorized bio for the site, with notes and ideas provided by Jono, was a new and delightful adventure for me as I wove memories, both factual and fictive - like much of life - from the career of an artist whose work attests to commitment, playfulness, and a seemingly endless capacity to create.

poster from 2022/2023 Toronto exhibit

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 exposé, 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)