The Second City's She The People - Review

The Second City's She The People - Review

There’s a meme floating around the internet somewhere of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Branner, a character whose fury transforms him into the Incredible Hulk. “I’m always angry,” he says, world-weary, gazing over his shoulder. It’s a feeling a lot of people can relate to. We live in a world full of injustices, of systems that keep lot of us in a constant, simmering rage. And rage is not funny (with the possible exception of some adorable toddler tantrums.)

Or is it? The Second City is trying something new at its Mercer Street Theatre; comedy that’s pissed as hell and holds back no punches. It’s called She The People and it’s 100% written, directed, and performed by women. It talks about the glass ceiling, about giving birth, about abortion and mimosas for brunch. It doesn’t ignore the world we live in - it’s whatever the opposite of escapism is - and it may make you uncomfortable to be reminded that hey, there are a lot of people around us who are Hulk-level angry all the time as they make their way through a world that doesn’t seem to care. But this show is also funny and smart and observant as hell. It’s comedy that sees the people on the bottom and not just those calling the shots. It’s a pressure valve for all that rage. If you’re already mad, She The People has got your back. And if you’re not, you will have a great time as you learn something.

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Toronto Art Exhibitions: Infinity Mirrors and The Riverbed

Toronto Art Exhibitions: Infinity Mirrors and The Riverbed

Unless you’ve been living in a state of complete media isolation over the last few months, you must be aware of the huge exhibit currently on at the Art Gallery of Ontario - Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors. It is everything it is hyped up to be: both vast and intimate, immersive and spectacular. But you may not be aware of another show that is just as intriguing. Yoko Ono’s The Riverbed at the Gardiner Museum is smaller in scale but more interactive, less solitary and more introspective, micro where Kusama’s is macro. I visited both shows recently and found, despite some huge contrasts in the physical art itself, more similarities than differences. They are, after all, both shows that ask you to consider your place in the universe and in society. Kusama and Ono invite you to think about both the solitude and the kinship of being people. You will not come out of either experience quite the same. 

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The Best is Yet to Come Undone - Review

The Best is Yet to Come Undone - Review

The Second City’s 81st revue The Best is Yet to Come Undone will be my third go-round at Second City, and as always, I’m amazed at how adaptable and relevant the form can be. Sketch comedy really showcases the electric chemistry a group of performers can have with each other, sparking ideas and tossing razor-sharp dialogue back and forth like a juggler with knives. The humour comes from the keen observation of contemporary issues, the depth of the characters, and a perfect sense of timing.

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Mixie & The Halfbreeds – Theatre Review

Mixie & The Halfbreeds – Theatre Review

A woman stands centre stage, wearing a gaudy circus ringmaster’s jacket and a giant banana on her head. Her gaze is direct and frank, even confrontational, as she asks us - a slightly nervous audience packed into a garage-like black box of a theatre - just how offensive we find her costume. It’s a banana, you see. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside. The audience squirms a little but is silent. We’re good audience members. We know not to disturb the performers. But the woman in the ringmaster’s jacket doesn’t let up. “So you’re okay with banana? What about halfie? Hapu? Halfbreed?” Cautious hands start to go up and then go right back down again, held tight in laps. The woman with the banana on her head turns to her companion, a woman wearing a similar jacket and a headdress shaped like a fried egg and says, “Really tolerant audience tonight, isn’t it?”

Just like that, the tension breaks, and everyone laughs. Mixie and the Halfbreeds is a play that builds around doubling, contrasts, and opposites - tension and release, realism and symbolism, white and Other. For all that the confrontation I’ve described seems loaded, Mixie is actually a charming, playful, delightfully weird show about the experience of being mixed race. Written, directed by, and starring mixed-race women, the show was originally staged in 2009 and has been updated to be more reflective of the 2018 experience of being both white and Asian. Although the mixed experience clearly isn’t exclusive to that combination, the fu-GEN Theatre Company brings Asian-Canadian voices to the forefront as part of its mandate.

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GOBSMACKED! - Theatre Review

GOBSMACKED! - Theatre Review

Let me get something important out of the way first; yes, GOBSMACKED! is a little like Glee. But not that much. The beatboxing/a cappella show on for a very limited run at the CAA Theatre lacks the melodrama and twisted storylines of the TV series and it has a decidedly British slant - Britpop is well represented by songs from Ed Sheeran, the Beatles(twice!), the Stones, David Bowie, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and Queen. It’s not perfect - there are a few numbers that come off as a little flat or overly produced - but for the most part, it’s a lively, exhilarating show with some genuinely jaw-dropping moments featuring the beauty and power of the human voice.

GOBSMACKED! is a team of six vocalists - a bass and two tenors, two mezzos and a soprano -
and one beatboxers (more on him later). Most of the singers are Brits, and the two mezzos have
that bluesy, soulful style I associate with Joss Stone and UK soul - a powerful voice that can be
deeply husky, as in Joanne Evans’ take on “It’s a Man’s World.” It takes some serious moxie to take on a James Brown number and Evans kills it. 

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