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: A Tonic For Desperate Times (Theatre Gargantua)

Photo of Heather Marie Annis and Michael Gordon Spence in A Tonic For Desperate Times by Michael Cooper

Theatre Gargantua‘s A Tonic for Desperate Times, the company’s return to live theatre at the historic St. Anne’s Parish Hall, is just that: a look at the seemingly insurmountable personal and global stresses in our current world, which offers a degree of optimism and hope with its harsh realities.

A devised work directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas and written by its perfomance ensemble, Heather Marie Annis, Sierra Haynes, Alexandra Lainfiesta, Michael Gordon Spence and Nabil Traboulsi, the show’s intent is to provide catharsis for a burnt-out, weary public. However, its goal isn’t to sugarcoat topics of illness, poverty, violence, and xenophobia; as any good catharsis requires the storm before the calm, the show pushes through the panic before showing us ways of coping.

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Review: Touch (Lighthouse Immersive Artspace)

Photo of Larkin Miller and Natasha Poon Woo in Touch by Dahlia Katz

Touch, conceived by Guillame Ct, is a 45-minute dance show about communication and connection between two people. A partnership between Lighthouse Immersive Artspace and Ct Danse, it shares the space of 1 Yonge St. with the heavily-advertised immersive Van Gogh exhibit known for its room-sized projections. Featuring similarly large-scale projections by Thomas Payette of Mirari Studio, the 360-degree experience packs a lot of sensory input into a short amount of time. It’s playful and fun.

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Review: UnCovered: The Music of Dolly Parton (The Musical Stage Company)

Photo of Kelly Holiff, Jully Black, and Hailey Gillis in UnCovered by Dahlia Katz

In UnCovered: The Music of Dolly Parton, The Musical Stage Company takes on the career of the legendarily flashy country star credited with everything from increasing literacy rates in Tennessee children to funding the development of the Moderna COVID vaccine. The entertainment force of nature is given a rollicking and heartfelt homage here, staged by Fiona Sauder, with rearranged songs strung together around thematically-relevant Parton quips read off postcards.

Ironically, UnCovered is the first show I’ve seen since COVID under the cover of an indoor theatre, the magnificent Koerner Hall. The sheer size of the interior contrasts sharply with the maximum of 175 people in the audience. Luckily, the six-person cast is up to the challenge of filling the space with sound, and the audience is so excited to be there that it loses some of that Toronto reserve and has a small dance party. Though I’m only a casual fan of Ms. Parton, I can say that this did not hinder my enjoyment of the evening.

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Review: MOBY: A Whale of a Tale (Pirate Life Theatre)

Photo of Annie Tuma, Jamar Adams-Thompson, and Lena Maripuu in MOBY: A Whale of a Tale by Raiza Dela Pen?a

MOBY: A Whale of A Tale is a seafaring show that takes audiences to an actual boat docked in the harbour at Queen’s Quay West. Moby-Dick, the famed tale by Herman Melville that has become synonymous with the the concept of doomed, obsessive revenge, gets a new life as a musical written by Gorgon Theatre‘s Lena Maripuu and Annie Tuma and presented by Pirate Life Theatre. Let’s just say that you don’t want this site-specific piece to be the one that got away.

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Review: Apocalypse Play (Two Birds Theatre/Common Boots Theatre)

Photo of Kate Lushington and Natasha Greenblatt in an outside setting in a park, holding a clear bag filled with pink balloons between them in Apocalypse Play

It’s a beautiful day for an apocalypse in Hillcrest Park. The sky is blue and children swarm the playground. Meanwhile, feminist theatre-makers and real-life mother-daughter team Kate Lushington and Natasha Greenblatt showcase their new work, Apocalypse Play – presented by Two Birds Theatre Company in association with Common Boots Theatre.

Greenblatt begins by explaining the play’s premise. She tells the audience that her intent was to create a third chapter to two of Lushington’s short satirical works set in the aftermath of a nuclear war.

These best-laid plans quickly go awry, however, as we instead watch a biting commentary on generational differences in arts-based activism and perceived existential threats. More than that, it’s also a story about the uneasy relationship between mother and daughter. and the lines between creation and capitulation, legacy and settling.

It’s messy, funny, thoughtful, and painful; an engrossing way to spend an hour.

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