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Mirabella Sundar Singh in Fifteen DogsHandout

Let’s just jump straight to it this week.

Here are three new or nearly new Canadian plays opening in Montreal, Toronto and Halifax, all highly anticipated. If I could be in three cities this week, these are the three I would be in.

1. Marie Farsi’s stage adaptation of the Giller Prize-winning novel Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis is on stage at Montreal’s Segal Centre until April 21. It’s currently in previews and barks for the critics on Thursday.

The original Crow’s Theatre version of this show was a huge sold-out hit – and one of my favourites of 2023. Farsi did a great job translating Alexis’s philosophy-filled tale about a pair of gods who grant 15 Torontonian dogs human consciousness to the stage.

But, for this new Segal Centre run, Farsi is actually adapting her own adaption so that the canines in question are now roaming around Montreal. An unusual move, but, being from Montreal myself, I know nobody likes to hear about Toronto there unless it’s about how soulless the city is.

Mirabella Sundar Singh is the sole actor carrying over from Farsi’s previous production, which she has now re-directed for a proscenium stage. The rest of the cast: Amy Rutherford, Davinder Malhi, David Reale, Lucinda Davis and Oliver Dennis, who is playing my favourite character, Majnoun, a poodle who lives by a strict moral code.

2. Christine Quintana is having quite a season. The Vancouver-based playwright, a Siminovitch Protégée Prize winner, has premiered three shows so far: Someone Like You, a millennial spin on Cyrano de Bergerac for the Arts Club; Beauty and the Beast, a holiday show co-written with Jivesh Parasram as Theatre Replacement’s annual East Van Panto; and As Above, a drama about a woman on a quest to find her estranged daughter that ran at the Belfry Theatre.

Now, in what is Quintana’s fourth world premiere of the season, El Terremoto opens Wednesday at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto under the direction of Guillermo Verdecchia, running to April 21.

The dramatic comedy is set in East Vancouver and concerns the three Jurado sisters, whose lives are upended by an earthquake. The play, delayed by a different disaster (the pandemic), was once billed as loosely inspired by Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, but that’s dropped out of the press materials over the years as the inspiration became even looser. Just as well: Great as he is, I think we’re all ready to move on from that Russian guy for a bit in Toronto.

3. Hannah Moscovitch has been working quite a bit in television lately – co-creating Little Bird, the Crave/APTN series that leads the nominations at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards, and toiling away in the writer’s room on Interview with the Vampire, which will air its second season on AMC next month.

But Moscovitch is still writing for theatre, thank goodness. Red Like Fruit, her latest, has its world premiere this week from 2b Theatre directed by Christian Barry, at the Bus Stop Theatre in Halifax. The show’s about a female journalist who asks a man to tell her life story – and, per the description, “interrogates the role and impact of men’s voices in women’s stories.” The script was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize this year (which was awarded to British playwright Ava Pickett for her play 1536). Red Like Fruit runs April 3 to 21 – and, hey, there’s childcare available at some performances, which, now that I’ve noticed it at three different shows this winter, is officially a trend.

New works kicking off festivals in Vancouver and Toronto

- The Cultch’s Femme Festival 2024 launches this week with a new play set in Montreal called Parifam by Aki Yaghoubi. Billed as concerning the courage of Iranian women, it is described liked this: “Parifam and Ramak grapple with the hidden truths that linger in their past – soon to be revealed in an exhibition on Persian culture at a museum they built together.” Panthea Vatandoost directs the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre and Medusa Theatre Society co-production, which runs from April 4 to 14.

- While its powerful production of The Inheritance (Critic’s Pick) continues on at the Bluma Appel Theatre, Canadian Stage is opening Searching for Eastman over at the Berkeley Street Theatre – a collective creation based on poetry of charles c. smith. It’s got a short four-day run from April 4 to 7 – and kicks off a new event the Toronto theatre company is calling the Festival of New Theatre.

Reviews you can re-use

Guilt: A Love Story, written and performed by Diane Flacks, is now at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Cetnre in Winnipeg from April 3 to 20. I reviewed director Alisa Palmer’s production at the Tarragon Theatre back in February.

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