Review: Impressionism (Alumnae Theatre)

Alumnae Theatre stages a play by television writer Michael Jacobs in Toronto

If you want to see some paintings this weekend and don’t want to go to just any old gallery, check out Alumnae Theatre’s production of Impressionism by Michael Jacobs. On until April 27 in Alumnae’s main space.

Impressionism is a play by writer Michael Jacobs, whom you’re probably more familiar with as the creator of Boy Meets World as well as several other television shows. In Impressionism Jacobs’ television writing shines through in the show’s humour, with some truly funny banter and zingers.

One of my favourite parts of Alumnae’s production is their set by Teodoro Dragonieri. They’ve painted the stage with splashes of colour, and the few furniture pieces are beautifully coloured. When I arrived early, I was invited on stage as part of a preshow to look at the art and set. The actors were up there, in character, as well.

I found that the play itself wasn’t quite my speed. Impressionism is a romantic comedy about Katharine (Liz Pounsett), the owner of a New York art gallery, and her relationship with photographer Thomas Buckle (Ted Powers). The initial scenes of Katharine and Thomas just shooting the breeze in the gallery were my favourites. There’s some charm there, and I did find myself rooting for the two leads.

However, as the play progressed it had the characters recreating the paintings as scenes from their own past. Katharine and Thomas also engaged in a rather forced argument about whether life is ‘realism’ or ‘impressionism’. The whole play is built around this debate, hence the title, and yet it still felt a bit half-baked to me. And so, as these layers were added, I found Impressionism became a bit obtuse.

The transitions from the art gallery to the paintings were very slow, with a simple slideshow projected onto the stage. This slideshow is accompanied by some lovely original music (Simon Fothergill), but it still couldn’t hold my attention. Thus, the show felt slow to me, despite its fairly short ninety minute runtime.

The actors were likeable enough across the board. Particularly, Liz Pounsett’s performance as Katharine won me over. I was also a fan of Elaine Lindo as both Julia and Sandra, and wished I could have seen her on stage more. I will say, but there was a lot of line-flubbing the night of our performance. My guest, Karen, noticed it as well.

I enjoyed Impressionism for its witty dialogue and ultimately likeable characters. I think Alumnae’s production quality showed in this play, but none of that managed to fully win me over.

  • Impressionism is playing at the Alumnae Theatre (70 Berkeley St) until April 27, 2019.
  • Showtimes are Tuesday to Saturday at 8:00 pm, with weekend matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm.
  • Tickets are $25 with a 2 for 1 deal on Wednesdays and PWYC on Sunday.
  • Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the box office.
  • Run time is 90 minutes with no intermission.
  • Audience Advisory: This production contains some coarse language.

Photo of Liz Pounsett, Catt Filippov, Julian Lee by Bruce Peters.