Kojira

forest_jumpRandom Acts of Dance’s Kojira brings three contemporary dance pieces to the Randolph Theatre as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival.

The first is mystical and conjures images of the forest and wood nymphs or faeries climbing trees in a thunderstorm, the second is more psychological, like a Madmen-era housewife being taken to her breaking point, and the third is the most energetic and is captivating largely by the in-tandem movements of the ensemble of dancers.

Kojira is, at times, slow, and at times very quiet. It explores both dance’s ability to explore large movements and large imagery, such as a faery climbing a tree, but also the tiny movements, and the still moments of our lives. The dancers have such vivid focus, such intense control of their bodies and they are entirely present in the moment, and the show requires the same presence from its audience, which can be a challenge for people who are used to being over-stimulated by distractions and technology. It’s a beautiful piece that doesn’t explain itself and allows for the audience to interpret either as they watch, or to ponder the dances in more depth once they’ve left the theatre.

If you enjoy Contemporary Dance, or have never seen Contemporary Dance, Kojira is skillfully  choreographed and executed.

TWISI FRINGE RATING:

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Kojira plays at the Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst Street) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:

show times
July 11 at 05:45 PM  buy tickets
July 12 at 05:15 PM  buy tickets

Swordplay: A Play of Swords

julian_frid_seann_murray_julian_frid_kaitlin_morrow_conor_bradbury_josef_addleman

sex t-rex

Sex T-Rex’s Swordplay: A Play of Swords is a swashbuckling epic adventure of filmic scope deftly brought to life with beautiful and creative theatricality and nonstop hilarity.

As in a futuristic The Princess Bride, a grandfather, born in the 1980s, brings his sick granddaughter an old video game to play, where three Musketeer-like comrades, Roland, Salvatore and Barnabas are serving the Princess Pimpernel, when suddenly Roland burns to death in a fire and Pimpernel is kidnapped by the evil Baron Thorne. It is up to Barnabas and Salvatore to save the day. What is so wonderful about this story is that what comes next is entirely unexpected, jammed with popular culture references that are woven elegantly into the story and the characters’ development, and creatively culminating in gruesome sword fights and all the plot points coming together tightly in a most satisfying way.

Sex T-Rex is a comedy troupe made up of highly skilled improvisers, and Swordplay: A Play of Swords shows how long-form sketch comedy can be pushed to its limit where it melds into divised playwriting and Swordplay: A Play of Swords is an excellent example. The physicality of Josef Addleman, Conor Bradbury, Julian Frid, Kaitlin Morrow and Seann Murray, combined with the imaginative vision of Alec Toller proves that theatre is still the perfect medium for creating the impossible. We are taken across seas, on to a dragon, through video game green tubes, and swinging from chandeliers, with immediacy and silliness abound. Simultaneously, Sex T-Rex  creates an entire world for us to wholeheartedly believe in, while also poking fun at how little they need in props and sets (foam swords, cutout set pieces, and a large piece of fabric) to achieve this feat. The fight choreography by Kevin MacPherson is both fierce and joyful, if morbidly so, and the music choices add another dimension of cinematic proportions and pop culture bliss.

We are so lucky to have so many incredibly talented comedy troupes in Toronto creating wonderfully unique and awing theatrical and comedic experiences for us and Swordplay: A Play of Swords is one of the best I have ever seen. Get thee forth, on thy honour, and sit thy arse down, and play.

TWISI FRINGE RATING:

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

Sex T-Rex’s Swordplay: A Play of Swords plays at the Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:

show times
July 10 at 05:45 PM  buy tickets
July 11 at 04:00 PM  buy tickets

A Man Walks Into a Bar

bluerachel_3A Man Walks Into a Bar is a beautiful, smart and biting commentary on gender politics from Rachel Blair, which plays at the Tarragon Mainspace through July 11th, 2015 as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival.

The play begins with a woman (played expertly by Blair) attempting to tell a joke, yet her male friend keeps interrupting and offering dramaturgy to her, in a mindless and friendly manner, which she accepts and allows and, at times, apologizes for. The joke is dramatized as the interaction between a man, who walks into a bar, and a waitress with whom he has one friendly and slightly flirty exchange. The man returns to the bar and his expectations concerning this waitress have risen exponentially. He is an average, normal, everyday sort of guy, subtly swathed in white male privilege, and completely oblivious to the ways he contributes to a patriarchal world that serves his needs. Yet, as Blair explores, this white, male privilege, the construction of masculinity and patriarchy, is actually a most fragile concept that cannot handle being laughed at, challenged or analyzed. The crux of the joke, and Blair’s play, is the absurdity that the people who wield the most power are also the most delicate.

Blair is terrific at oscillating deftly between brimming with confidence, charm and playful attitude, and then reducing herself, sometimes only marginally, as she feels intimidated, nervous, judged or lambasted. She makes herself smaller to protect herself in situations she feels uncomfortable in, and the construction of her job, as a waitress, who is paid to be jovial and friendly to all her guests, sets her up for many opportunities for awkward conversations and potentially dangerous situations. Blue Bigwood-Mallin plays both men with what looks like infinite confidence, yet also incredible sensitivity, sensitivity that escalates quickly from whining, to blaming to violence. These men are quick to mansplain, play devil’s advocate and offer excuses, but fail to comprehend the joke.

The play conveys a complex idea creatively and clearly, without undermining its complexity. It is a darkly funny, and sharply insightful piece that I would heartily recommend that everyone try their best to go see.

TWISI FRINGE RATING: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_starsA Man Walks Into a Bar plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Avenue) as part of the Toronto Fringe at the following times:  

show times
July 11 at 05:15 PM  buy tickets

Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo

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jeff leard

Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo is a high spirited and highly imaginative science fiction adventure written by Ron Fromstein and brought to vivid life by virtuoso performer Jeff Leard.

The story centres on our protagonist, Zach Zultana, who works for a mining company in space, owned by a corporate dictator. Zach gets into trouble when he is seduced by a mysterious woman with a space ship, and ends up earning the reputation of being a “Space Gigolo” and gets demoted to the highly toxic waste management department where he ends up leading a revolution by accident.

Leard plays Zach, earnest and full of self deprecating charm, and also plays all the other characters in the play including Nick, Zach’s burly Eastern European friend, sultry Alexandra, and the narrator of the piece, who describes certain scenes as they would appear in the action film version of the play. This is a difficult conceit to achieve but Leard infuses it with so much intensity and exuberance, the audience is taken right into the play’s filmic alter-ego happily. Leard’s exuberance also serves him well in his physical work and the specificity in his movement, especially when miming objects and providing fun sound effects.

There are those who say that, for certain things, like action sequences for example, film is the superior art form but in Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo Fromstein and Leard prove that sometimes, or I would argue often, theatre is way more fun.

TWISI FRINGE RATING: 

5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Avenue) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times:

show times
July 10 at 11:00 PM  buy tickets
July 11 at 12:30 PM  buy tickets

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