Storefront Festival’s Final Days

There’s still time to take in some of these Festival productions before it all ends tomorrow (Saturday) night!  I’ve seen all of the shows with the exception of “Danny, King of the Basement”, which I will be catching tomorrow morning at 10:30 am with some family friends…

If you are looking for my recommendations, here are my thoughts…

PICKS OF THE FESTIVAL

My Silly Yum (Venue 2, Sat at 7 pm); CUL-DE-SAC (Venue 3, Fri & Sat at 7 pm)

MUST SEE

Mary’s Wedding (Venue 1, Fri at 6:30 pm & Sat at 9 pm); Fake Nerd Girl (Venue 3, Fri at 9:30 pm)

CATCH IF YOU CAN

Anybody Can Be Pussy Riot (Venue 2, Fri at 7 pm), Women Who Shout At The Stars (Venue 1, Sat at 1 pm)

OF COURSE…If you have any differing opinions of your own to share, please feel free to add a comment!

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Share Your ‘Storefront’ Reviews!

SFF on whiteThe inaugural Storefront Festival, conceived and presented by Theatre Kingston as part of The Kick and Push Festival, kicks off on Friday, July 15th!

I recognize that this site has been dormant for sometime – but my desire to engage and promote dialogue in response to innovative theatre offerings remains the same.  I can think of no more suitable opportunity to reboot this project than a Festival such as this. Brett Christopher’s vision out of the gate was encapsulated in the tagline “Uncurated, Uncensored, Unboring”, and I have to admit, it piqued my interest!

Here’s what I would love to see happen…

1/ Go to a show.  Go to MANY shows.  Support these ambitious artists, who are pushing the envelope and testing the limits of their talent as well as the parameters of the traditional theatre experience.  Be a part of the audience with whom they so desperately want to connect.

2/ Come back here and post a mini-review of whatever you see, by way of a comment.  I think it’s safe to say that these eager artists are looking for your feedback – both positive reinforcement and constructive criticism.  Keep in mind that the purpose of this site is to help foster our local theatre community, and everyone’s Festival experience only stands to be enhanced.

3/ Keep the conversation going.  Personal commentary and multiple perspectives serve to enrich live theatre, so feel free to reply respectfully to reviews posted by others.  Do not passively watch these cutting edge productions.  Digest and discuss them.  Be a Storefront Festival participant.

And finally, don’t limit the discussion to this site – take the conversation to your favourite pub or restaurant after each show, and share your thoughts across social media platforms.  Trust me.  The larger and more lively the conversation, the greater the Storefront Festival experience will be for everyone…

I look forward to reading YOUR reviews of the shows that you get to see over the next 9 days!

Find the Storefront Festival brochure here

A Beautiful Play

Amy Rutherford & Becky Johnson, “A Beautiful View”

It is through the partnership of Theatre Kingston and Volcano Theatre that “A Beautiful View“, Daniel MacIvor’s play about another partnership, is currently playing in the Baby Grand Studio.  Two women appear on stage and tell the story of their relationship.  Sound simple?  Of course it does.  But of course it’s not.

As is typical of MacIvor’s work, “A Beautiful View” is far from a neatly packaged, linear and straightforward night at the theatre.  In this case, though, such is entirely suitable because the same can be said of the nature of self-identity, friendship, and love as explored in the piece.  Just like any meaningful relationship, the play demands a level of commitment – a combination of effort and perseverance to see it through to its end. (more…)

Dine & Dash

Sara Chiodo, Matthew Hunt, & Brent Clifford Gorrie in "Don't Dress For Dinner"

Sara Chiodo, Matthew Hunt and Brent Clifford Gorrie in Blue Canoe’s “Don’t Dress For Dinner”

With his script “Don’t Dress For Dinner“, playwright Marc Camoletti serves up just the right combination of credible misunderstanding and madcap mayhem, such that his cast of characters never know what the heck is happening around them – yet the audience can enjoy the pleasure and laughter reserved for those who are in on the joke.  The current Blue Canoe production playing at the Domino Theatre, however, loses something in its presentation. (more…)

Seeing Red

Ben Sanders & Randy Hughson, photo by Mark Bergin

Ben Sanders & Randy Hughson, photo by Mark Bergin

Since its very beginning as “Theatre Beyond” in 1991, Theatre Kingston has been known for bringing challenging pieces to local audiences – typically ambitious and risky productions that may not have mainstream appeal, but are meant to enrich as well as entertain their audiences.  The current staging of John Logan’s “Red“, playing now in the Baby Grand Studio, is a perfect example of such a project, and is near-perfect in its execution.

“Red” is a vivid look into the life of famed artist Mark Rothko (circa 1958) as he undertakes the painting of a group of murals for The Four Seasons, an exclusive and expensive restaurant.  In addition to grappling with his own demons and creative process, he must also contend with a young new assistant, who has his own ideas and aspirations.  It is a play which explores the very essence of art: its creators, its creation, and its consumption.  “Everyone likes everything nowadays”, laments Rothko in the opening scene.  “Everything becomes everything else and it’s all nice and pretty and likeable.  Everything is fun in the sun!”  This play, however, is not.  And as such, the playwright has crafted a brilliant ‘case in point’ – if, that is, all of the elements of the production are able to live up to the lofty expectations established by the script itself. (more…)

From Seth’s Blog

The humility of the artist

“It seems arrogant to say, “perhaps this isn’t for you.”

When the critic pans your work, or the prospect hears your offer but doesn’t buy, the artist responds, “that’s okay, it’s not for you.” She doesn’t wheedle or flip-flop or go into high pressure mode. She treats different people differently, understands that she is working to delight the weird, not please the masses, and walks away.

Isn’t that arrogant?

No. It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it. Our best work can’t possibly appeal to the average masses, only our average work can.

Finding the humility to happily walk away from those that don’t get it unlocks our ability to do great work.”

~ Seth Godin, from Seth’s Blog: Jan 19, 2014

MADE YOU SAY “UNDERPANTS”

Nicole Garrett & Michael Catlin, Photo courtesy of John A Geddes

Nicole Garrett & Michael Catlin, Photo courtesy of John A Geddes

A description of “The Underpants”, adapted by THAT Steve Martin, which appears on the King’s Town Players website, suggests that the play is a “crazy satire…about scandal and celebrity“.  This particular production, however, treats the script as a farce about little more than…well…underpants.  The premise of the play is sound and intriguing.  Louise, the neglected wife of a blowhard bureaucrat, finds herself the centre of attention after her underpants fall down around her ankles at a public event.  Her egocentric husband fears scandal, while her neighbour and confidant senses opportunity.  Sure enough, two suitors arrive hoping to rent a room in the house and win the affections of Louise.  Unfortunately, this staging appears to place little emphasis on telling the story.  The objective, instead, seems to be to get to the next gag.

Most good comedy is developed and delivered as a one-two blow – the first being the set up, and the next being the punch line.  Martin’s genius, however, is his ability to turn that on its head, and use the overt punch line  to set up the real gem buried within the witty zinger to follow.  It’s a slight of hand, akin to the magic that Martin is so fond of.  Director Clayton Garrett’s treatment of the script as farce places far greater focus on the slapstick over the subtlety, and a great deal of the playwrights’s biting commentary is lost. (more…)

She’s A Nine

Blue Canoe's "Nine"

Alex Oliver and Katie Oake in Blue Canoe’s “Nine”

There is a quote from the Kingston Whig Standard that appears prominently on the cover of the program for Blue Canoe‘s production of “Nine”:  “imaginative, energetic and engaging”.  Although I have no idea which former show this statement pertains to, it is most certainly suitable for this one, as well.

“Nine”, book by Arthur Kopit and music/lyrics by Maury Yestin, is the story of 1960’s Italian filmmaker Guido Contini, who is facing the simultaneous breakdown of both his professional and personal lives.  The tale unravels at a very quick pace, so you best pay attention if you hope to keep up, as there is little exposition or breathing room to provide any opportunity to catch up.  The narrative is neither linear nor straightforward, so those audience members who fall behind, are likely to be left behind.  Those, on the other hand, who follow along keenly will reap the benefits of some very rich and clever writing. (more…)

Mr. Green Is Worth A Visit

"Visiting Mr. Green" at the Domino Theatre, Jan 9 - 25, 2014

“Visiting Mr. Green” at the Domino Theatre, Jan 9 – 25, 2014

Visiting Mr. Green, currently playing at the Domino Theatre, is a solid play that is both topical and poignant, yet quite accessible in its touches of comedy and familiarity.  Written by Jeff Baron in 1996, one can readily see its attraction as a play so widely translated and produced around the world.  It is sophisticated in its subject matter and themes, yet pleasantly simple in its execution on the stage.  Whether it is a play you are familiar with or not, it is most definitely a highlight of this season’s playbill at Domino.

Ross is a young executive working his way up the corporate ladder, who is sentenced to community service hours to be spent with Mr. Green after he almost hits the elderly widower with his car.  Both characters are written with a great deal of personality, clever and meaningful dialogue, and rich subtext.  Each has his own colorful history, unique perspective, and significant internal struggles. (more…)