Kim's Convenience - Theatre Review

Kim's Convenience - Theatre Review

If you haven't guessed by the last name on my byline, I come from an immigrant family. 

It's nothing unusual in Toronto, of course. I think the majority of kids in my elementary and even high schools were first- or second-generation Canadian. It wasn't until I was in university that I got an inkling that maybe everyone's family wasn't quite like mine, that I and other children of newcomers carried different identities and stories with us. The TV series Kim's Convenience tells the story of just such an immigrant family and their hilarious, sometimes campy, often profoundly truthful lived experiences. I really got into Kim's this fall. I wasn't expecting to, but the show won me over with its slow build, its gradually unfolding story of family relationships and everyday milestones. When I found that Soulpepper was staging a revival of the original Kim's Convenience, Ins Choi's one-act dramedy, I jumped at the chance to see it. 

So how does the play compare to the TV series? It's an interesting counterpoint, the same and not the same. The play has a darker, more dramatic slant than the sunny TV show but the humour and the strong sense of place are unchanged. It's a very Toronto piece of theatre and well worth seeing. 

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The Audience - Theatre Review

The Audience - Theatre Review

In the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London, there is a small, quiet park by Queen Square. I came across it by accident, years ago – I was looking for Virginia Woolf's former home – but once I found the park I wanted to stay. It's full of mature trees, shady, tranquil. At one end is a small monument. It's a broad, shallow bowl planted with flowers, nothing extraordinary, until you come closer and find a poem engraved on the ground. 

1952-1977
In times when nothing stood
But worsened or grew strange
There was one constant good
She did not change. 

It seems cryptic, doesn't it? Yet the meaning is simple; Philip Larkin, England's poet laureate, wrote those lines on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. I've been thinking a lot about that small monument, humble and sturdy, and that poem since watching The Audience. It's a play in which governments rise and fall, wars are waged and lost, momentous events pass by at dizzying speed, and a small, steadfast woman stands at the middle of it all. The Audience is sharply written and sensitively performed. Nothing happens – and yet everything happens.

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Toronto Light Fest: The Art of Light

Toronto Light Fest: The Art of Light

Beat the winter blues and come out of hibernation to explore the unique light installations at Toronto Light Fest! Held in the historic Distillery District, the festival features exhibits from local and international artists. 

It's quite romantic to stroll through the Distillery District and take in the glittering lights twinkling against the space's gorgeous backdrop. The outdoor area is magically transformed and is a visual feast for the eyes. Here are a few photos I took of my favourite installations. 

Digital Origami Tigers by LAVA - Australia (pictured above)

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Shakespeare BASH'd presents Twelfth Night

Shakespeare BASH'd presents Twelfth Night

Shakespeare BASH'd is a theatre company with one mission – to bring the Bard to bars. 

I'm exaggerating, of course, but not by much. BASH'd produces early modern English dramas in some of Toronto's most iconic pubs (The Imperial and the Victory Cafe are some recent venues), bringing a sense of raucous, booze-fueled fun to a cultural experience that – for many of us – has become uncomfortably highfalutin'. In fact, the experience of a BASH'd Shakespeare play sounds very much like what it must have been like for those plays' original audiences. The company does a lot with a little, relying on the power of the texts rather than over-the-top production values to make an emotional connection with their viewers. 

Recently, I was lucky enough to have a long conversation with James Wallis, co-artistic director of Shakespeare BASH'd and director of their latest production. Wallis and the rest of the company are staging a 1920s Parisian Twelfth Night at the Monarch Tavern later this month and it sounds like it's going to be a riot. Here's a little bit of what we can expect from this production. 

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Twist Your Dickens - Theatre Review

Twist Your Dickens - Theatre Review

The Second City’s production of Twist Your Dickens – a comedic spoof on the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol – is an entertaining take on the classic Christmas story. Starring Seán Cullen as Scrooge alongside Patrick McKenna and many talented actors playing multiple roles, the show incorporates puns, historical and contemporary references, and improv to provide for an entertaining evening at the theatre. 

Whether it was poking fun at the recent U.S. presidential election or public protests, mocking past traditions or popular culture from specific decades, or offering comedic reflections on classic Christmas stories, Twist Your Dickens flipped Dickens’ story on its head while keeping the show's original plot line, but also creating spontaneity at the same time.

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