Reviews

Frame Your Mind to Mirth and Merriment

STRATFORD, ON—I’ve never seen a Taming of the Shrew that is quite so, well, shrewish.  Deborah Hay, playing Katherina, rages around the stage, her hair mushrooming in all sorts of directions, her shrieking voice piercing clear through the Festival Theatre.  It is a shocking, audacious performance, as this comedy has troubled critics, audiences, and actors for some […]

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Reviews

All the Children Are Insane

STRATFORD, ON—There is a clean, bare, and muted look to Daniel Brooks’ modernized staging of Oedipus Rex.  The cast dresses in simple, businesslike attire.  Oedipus (Gord Rand) himself often sits at a simple metal desk.  The stage is flanked by unoccupied watchtowers and floodlights.  The chorus, rather than speaking their lines in unison, take turns at […]

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Reviews

Death Is Not the End

STRATFORD, ON—Casting is key in the Stratford Festival’s Pericles this season.  The play, after all, is concerned with cycles, with births and deaths and rebirths, with inverted repetitions.  Thus, E.B. Smith plays Thaliard and Leonine, the first a failed assassin of Pericles (Evan Buliung), the second of his daughter Marina (Deborah Hay).  Wayne Best, in turn, appears as the […]

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Reviews

And It Felt Like a Kiss

STRATFORD, ON—Rogers and Hammerstein’s Carousel is a Frankenstein’s monster of a musical, part American Tragedy, part Dog Day Afternoon, and part Christmas Carol.  For the first two-thirds, it is a fairly conventional story about Billy Bigelow (Jonathan Winsby), a carousel barker who seduces the “queer” millworker Julie Jordan (Alexis Gordon).  Their marriage quickly devolves into restlessness and […]

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Reviews

Basking in Open Day

STRATFORD, ON—Before the premiere of his second and final play, She Stoops to Conquer, Oliver Goldsmith wrote “A Comparison between Laughing and Sentimental Comedy.”  In this short essay, he appeals to Aristotle in arguing that a comedy is “a picture of the frailties of the lower part of mankind, to distinguish it from tragedy, which is an […]

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Reviews

Valanced Faces

STRATFORD, ON—Apparently Jonathan Goad takes Hamlet at his word when he says he will “put an antic disposition on.”  His performance is full of hopping and howling; he walks backwards like a crab and suckles at Claudius’ (Geraint Wyn Davies) breast like a feeding baby.  It certainly isn’t the way I read Hamlet—and yet, it works better than […]

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Reviews

Pinning Down a Cloud

STRATFORD, ON—Christopher Plummer famously claimed that working with Julie Andrews on The Sound of Music was like “being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card, every day.”  Perhaps, though, the experience of performing in the musical and seeing the musical are not the same.  Disneyland, after all, is a very different place for a child than it is for […]

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