All posts by Ilana Lucas

Ilana Lucas has been a big theatre nerd since witnessing a fateful Gilbert and Sullivan production at the age of seven. She has studied theatre for most of her life, holds a BA in English and Theatre from Princeton and an MFA in Dramaturgy and Script Development from Columbia, and is currently a professor of English and Theatre at Centennial College. She believes that theatre has a unique ability to foster connection, empathy and joy, and has a deep love of the playfulness of the written word. Her favourite theatrical experience was the nine-hour, all-day Broadway performance of The Norman Conquests, which made fast friends of an audience of strangers.

Review: Casimir and Caroline (The Howland Company)

Photo of Hallie Seline in Casimir and Caroline by Dahlia Katz

Join the office party where where “fun” is merely an attempt to keep the darkness at bay

Casimir and Caroline is based on a popular 1932 German play of the same title by Ödön Von Horváth that has never been staged in North America. Translated by Holger Syme and adapted to modern Toronto by Syme, director Paolo Santalucia and The Howland Company, it’s a satire on the emptiness of love in a time of ruthless capitalism.

An office party run amok is a catalyst for the splintering of a host of social relationships gone manipulative and wrong.

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Review: The Solitudes (Aluna/Nightwood)

Photo of Rosalba Martinni and Ensemble in The Solitudes by Jeremy Mimnagh

“Inspired by the women of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude,” Beatriz Pisano’s The Solitudes (presented by Aluna Theatre in association with Nightwood Theatre at Harbourfront Centre) is about being a woman, being “The Other” — an immigrant, a descendant of immigrants, or an othered Indigenous person on stolen land — taking back spaces, and taking up space.

The 90-minute piece features the individual stories of each woman on stage, wrapping them together with interconnected themes and messages. It’s a challenging, cathartic experience that demands that you listen carefully and let these stories in.

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49th Day (Theatre ARTaud) 2020 Next Stage Review

Photo of athena kaitlin trinh in 49th Day by Tanja Tiziana

In 49th Day by athena kaitlin trinh, produced by Theatre ARTaud at the 2020 Next Stage Theatre Festival, a young woman (trinh) travels from Canada to Vietnam to fulfill the ritual requirements for her deceased grandmother (Diana Tso). The titular number of days refers to the length of time rice and offerings are brought to the altar for the dead.

Swearing up a storm and wrecking the ritual order, granddaughter is torn between a desire to honour her grandmother and to rage at her for her departure. She’s desperate to have one final, parting moment of connection with a woman and a culture both ever-present and distant to her. Highly specific yet universal, her story is a familiar one to many grandchildren of immigrants: she has Chinese and Vietnamese heritage, but admits her limited knowledge of those cultures’ languages and histories runs from rudimentary to almost non-existent, respectively.

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Literally Titanium (Ophira Calof) 2020 Next Stage Review

Photo of Ophira Calof in Literally Titanium by Tyra SweetWhen the temporary technical battles of the very first show of the  2020 Next Stage Theatre Festival had been won, Ophira Calof’s opening night of Literally Titanium presented us with another war: one waged between her own mind and body.

Troublesome DNA has left her with titanium in her spine to help hold her head up. She also uses a seriously cool power chair to transport her around the stage, making loops with vigour and grace.

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Review: Dishonour On Your Cow (Silvi Santoso)

Photo of Silvi Santoso by Olivia Stadler

Personal candid story tackling tough topics is still taking shape

The title and refrain of Dishonour On Your Cow, comic Silvi Santoso’s new solo show, is a reference to a line from the Disney movie Mulan, one of my sentimental favourites. Mushu, the tiny dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy, rants at Mulan that, should she fail to live up to her familial and cultural responsibilities, there will be “Dishonour on your whole family… dishonour on you, dishonour on your cow” (her horse).

The show uses the movie as a brief framing device for finding confidence in yourself and moving past cultural misogyny, gaslighting, and, in her case, sexual abuse from family members. This is a show still in development, and was viewed with this in mind; as such, it’s still a bit raw, much like its subjects.

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