Review: Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz (Wakka Wakka Productions/Norland Visual Theatre)

 

MR with Boots High ResActors and puppetry bring life to Fabrik: The Legend of M Rabinowitz on stage at the Toronto Centre for the Arts

On Thursday night, I trekked to North York to see Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz at the Toronto Centre For The Arts. Fabrik is the story of Moritz Rabinowitz, a renowned Jewish tailor in Norway and his life as a businessman, husband, father and political pundit. The story is set against the backdrop of pre-World War II Europe, when the global economic crisis was paving the way for political extremism and a rising tide of antisemitism.

Fabrik is very much about the Jewish experience at a very crucial time in European history. Rather than being a pedantic lesson, Fabrik is a touching, humorous and candid glimpse of one man in extraordinary circumstances. We observe the titular character as boisterous and full of life as he manages and expands his business, negotiates a less-than-perfect relationship with his wife and watches his daughter grow up, marry and start a family of her own.

We see Rabinowitz rally against restrictive political and economic policies levied against Jewish people. His writing inevitably makes him the target of the invading Nazis and he is captured, imprisoned and murdered. Pretty heavy stuff. Enter the puppets. Continue reading Review: Fabrik: The Legend of M. Rabinowitz (Wakka Wakka Productions/Norland Visual Theatre)

Review: Circle Jerk (Soup Can Theatre, safeword, Aim For The Tangent)

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Circle Jerk is Raw, Experimental, Intimate Theatre

Circle Jerk (Soup Can Theatre, safeword, and Aim For The Tangent) is the collaborative effort of three Toronto based theatre companies. The show consists of four one act plays and their only connection to one another lies in the shared use of the first and last lines of dialogue. On a grander scale, connections can be found in each play’s effective commentary on the human condition. Circle Jerk is currently playing at the lemonTree studio.

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Review: Take Me Back to Jefferson (Theatre Smith-Gilmour)

8554463705_43cd17c141_zAs I Lay Dying, at Factory Theatre, Deserves its Acclaim

In celebration of Factory Theatre’s 45th anniversary, Theatre Smith-Gilmour has revived their Dora nominated production, Take Me Back to Jefferson (formerly billed as As I Lay Dying, the title of the 1930 William Faulkner novel on which this production is based).

It’s a morbid, touching look at the Bundren family’s attempt at honouring the death of their matriarch and their emotionally volatile journey to return her body to the town of Jefferson, her hometown and desired final resting place.

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Review: BEEF (Sorry Goat Productions)

BEEF explored human connections through dating on stage at Toronto’s The Box

BEEF, as the program points out, could mean the meat of a cow, prepared for cooking or an argument or disagreement. In this performance, burgers are consumed and arguments are aired, as the narrative skips back and forth in time to reveal the relationship timeline of two not-especially-likable characters and their respective quirky pals. As the show carries on, three of the four characters address the audience directly — all but the white straight-boy protagonist, whose motives apparently require no explication? — and give us some insight into how they feel about themselves and their accomplishments.

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Review: The 39 Steps (East Side Players)

Minimal cast and props deliver dynamic theatre in The 39 Steps playing at the Papermill Playhouse in Toronto

The 39 Steps was a novel, then a Hitchcock thriller, and is now — nearly a century after it appeared — presented in Real-Life-O-Vision at the Papermill Playhouse. The modern staging was pioneered on a barnstorming tour of British town halls and corn exchanges: four actors play all the roles, using only a few crates, hats, set pieces and pairs of stockings between them.

This kooky melodrama is very much set in a specific time and place: England, during the interwar years, when mentalists still played the music halls and a weekend in Scotland was an exotic vacation. As the characters travel up and down the country hunting the Great MacGuffin, they encounter great complications and smaller dramas: sheep on the road, romantic entangelements, a Scottish pipe band, and fear and danger around every corner. Will our hero succeed?

Of course he will. It’s an interwar melodrama; it wouldn’t do to have a sad ending. So let’s stop talking about the plot and move onto the meat.

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