All posts by Ryan Kerr

A Rush of Blood to the Head (WatersEdgeProductions) – 2010 Fringe Review

By Ryan Kerr

Spencer Smith’s A Rush of Blood to the Head is a coming of age story set in Mississauga which incorporates moments of comedy, drama, and after-school-special-style teachables.

The story begins as the protagonist, Christopher, turns ten, with his younger brother, best friend, and mom by his side.  Something about the blood-splattered set, exclusively red props, and ominous thunder-like music during each scene change indicated that something would eventually turn sour, and as a result I was apprehensive most of the play.

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Review: Dark Star Requiem – Tapestry New Opera (LuminaTO)

Dark Star Requiem was on stage for two nights only to open Toronto’s LuminaTO Festival

by Ryan Kerr

The world premiere of Dark Star Requiem – commissioned by Toronto’s Luminato 2010 Festival and co-produced with Tapestry New Opera – characterized the world AIDS epidemic with the flow of a Wikipedia article, the atonal melodies of modern oratorio, and the staging of a low-budget musical.

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Review: Howie the Rookie (Red One Theatre Collective)

On the rainiest day in June (so far) I stood with a crowd on the NW corner of College and Grace Streets, waiting for Howie the Rookie. None of us knew what to expect. Our umbrellas twirled under the pelting rain until we were greeted by a Red One Theatre Collective representative who presented a damp attendance list. Suddenly, two men, shouting in Irish accents flew by, and the play began.

Our umbrella-ed entourage was led towards our “secret location” and I noticed how poetic the urban environment seemed from this heightened, theatrical perspective. A young couple walking their chihuahua with an Elizabethan collar in the distance became characters in our show. Graffiti appeared as decoration, rather than vandalism, and litter seemed perfectly placed, rather than, well, littered.

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Review: 9 Parts of Desire – Seventh Stage Theatre

By Ryan Kerr

Seventh Stage Theatre‘s limited run of 9 Parts of Desire deserves a remount.

Seventh Stage Production’s 9 Parts of Desire wove together the stories of nine modern Iraqi women in a beautifully designed, compelling production.
The play ran 70 minutes with no intermission – steadily building tension and urgency. Each character shared an elegant and thoughtful vignette describing their relationship to the culture, landscape, and memory of their country.
It was at once joyful and heartbreaking, tinged with desperate political fervor. I felt like I was hearing stories rarely told, of a place changing so dramatically without anyone to preserve its crumbling history. Even the character of Mullaya in her opening monologue admits jokingly admits: “Iraqis never open their mouths – even for a dentist!”
What incredible responsibility these actors must have felt in conveying this message of secret thoughts, ambitions, and desires of nine compelling characters.

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Review: Mamma Mia! – Mirvish

By Ryan Kerr

Mirvish has brought Mamma Mia! the musical back to eager Toronto theatre audiences

You’ve seen the movie. You’ve heard the music. Mamma Mia! has been a sensation since it opened in London’s West-End. But Toronto’s relationship to this blockbuster musical has always been, well, personal.

The first North American city to mount this ABBA-inspired spectacle, Toronto was the incubator for the original Broadway production and at least one touring cast, hosting the successful phenomenon for just over 5 years.

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