Wed. Jan. 22

Stage Blue Productions’ twofour
By Julian De Zotti; directed by Alex Corlazzoli

It’s Victoria Day weekend—time for three old friends to hang out, get drunk, and catch up at the cottage. When the three friends in question have a long history and tensions stewing beneath the surface, the combination of alcohol and close quarters can come to no good. “Bitterness, backstabbing, gossip, competition!” one character exclaims in an attempt to explain the relationship in the midst of an argument. Oh, brother. With stilted dialogue peppered with gratuitous swearing, actors trying way too hard to be “real,” and a plot that’s too thin to stand up for almost an hour, twofour lost me before it stumbled to its point. Maybe it’s a guy thing. —YS

Hart House Drama Society’s
A Number of Phones
By Carey Graham; directed by Danielle Meierhenry

Loosely based on T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land, the playwright describes A Number of Phones as “A dark and disjointed journey through the mind of the 21st-century man, as he struggles with the demons of violence, consumerism, and social breakdown that plague the modern Western world.” That’s a lot to get through in just under thirty minutes, but the compact piece makes a valiant effort. In front of an intriguing set featuring folding tables laden with telephones and cans of Coke, Adam (Danny Kastner) rants about telemarketing and other contemporary woes while a Greek chorus-style ensemble talks on the phones behind him. The production suffered from some technical issues—layers of sound resulted in barely-audible lines near the play’s end—and the mishmash of ideas often collapsed into detached sloganeering. With such interesting ideas, it was a shame the execution was so garbled. —YS

Victoria College Drama Society’s Move It
Written and directed by Helen Yung

Set mainly in the tunnels of the Toronto subway, Move It combined voice, movement, and mime with the stories of several characters navigating the public transit system. While the subway sounds and activities were immediately familiar to most of the audience and provoked chuckles, the various stories were largely incoherent and the actors failed to make the audience care about any of the paper-thin characters. Move It needed a stronger cast to make up for what the script lacked. —YS

Thurs. Jan. 23
Theatre Rouge’s K
Written and directed by Elisa Lam

The first Chinese play to take part in the U of T Drama Festival, K, written and acted entirely in Cantonese, tells the story of a young teenager coming to terms with her sexuality. Though it was often difficult to follow the action on stage and the English surtitles on a computerized screen above at the same time, this wasn’t the main problem. With the sort of demonstrative, clichéd acting you’d see in a Grade 9 drama class, it seemed the only experience most cast members had with gay characters was Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The script, too, was terribly basic—when K finally opens up and tells her mother she’s a lesbian, her mother’s reaction is far too one-dimensional, with no real exploration of the issues at hand. In the end, though, there’s something charming about a cast that’s obviously trying so hard. —YS

St. Michael’s College Drama Society’s Henrik’s House By Laura Cockburn; directed by cast

Supposedly an adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Henrik’s House follows Henrik (Colin Oliver), a Nazi soldier in Auschwitz, and the breakdown of his marriage to Magdalena (Laura Cockburn) when she realizes the crimes in which her husband is complicit. With a melodramatic script and poorly-acted performances, the play is, frankly, insulting. Dressing actors in rags with yellow Stars of David in order to portray Auschwitz victims is absolutely tasteless, and both the playwright and the cast should be ashamed of exploiting Holocaust history and images to create this mix of cheap poetry and “deep” drama. The closing monologue is the only saving grace, but it comes far, far too late. —YS

UTSC Drama Society’s Normality
By Matt Riley and Ethan Cole; directed by Matt Riley

With a colourful, cartoonish set and narration delivered by voiceover from backstage, Normality is broad comedy with a plot that moves from end to beginning rather than the other way around. Unfortunately, the script is too cleverer-than-thou to be actually funny, and Jessica DeBruyn’s performace as Dana was grating enough to be cringe-worthy. Katie O’Hara wasn’t much better as the Teacher, delivering her lines in a screech reminiscent of Lucy from old Peanuts cartoons. Dan Savoie’s dual role as Arthur and Donald was one of the few truly humourous performances—the playwrights need to learn that nonsense strung together does not comedy make. —YS

Sat. Jan. 25

Compny theatrecrisis’ Metam Written and directed by Natasha Mytnowych

Metam claims to be “a work in progress inspired by Kafka’s The Metamorphosis,” but only the former part of that statement seems to be true: as you’d expect from a work in progress, this play was confusing and lacked focus, but the echoes of Kafka were few and far between. The play was set at the outbreak of WWI (though the exact time and location remained unclear), and dealt with a number of unhappy characters living in a boarding house. The acting was strong and confident, but the play attempted to do and say too many things at once, leaving the scenes seeming disjointed. Underdeveloped characters and plot left the audience with the impression that something important had happened, but they couldn’t really explain what it was. —TK

Erindale Drama Club’s Don Juan
Written by Kyle Macdonald;
directed by Matthew Krist

Don Juan was a delightful treat, with a hilarious script, a uniformly strong cast and smooth staging. It was obviously proud to be a slapstick farce, complete with catfights, swordfights and lots of sexual innuendo. All this was crammed into about forty minutes, but it never felt rushed or incomplete. Kyle Macdonald as Don Juan was perfectly cocky and suave, and it was easy to see why all the women were willing to fight for him. Whitney Barris as Madame Santina, one of the two women pursuing him, obviously relished her role as the villainous courtesan, dominating every scene she was in with her cutting remarks. Erin Frey, as the other half of the duet of dueling Don Juan lovers, seemed somewhat weaker by comparison. The use of silhouettes on a curtain to shield the audience from certain—ahem—inappropriate scenes was clever and afforded other talented actors the opportunity to take part in the action. The play was outlandish, occasionally offensive, and utterly hilarious—the perfect end to the U of T Drama Festival. —TK