This Thursday in Toronto, there are new shows opening at both of the city’s biggest not-for-profit theatres, Canadian Stage and Soulpepper.
Canadian Stage has a new production of the American playwright Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat – about factory workers in a declining working-class town in Pennsylvania. The drama premiered in 2015, and after Donald Trump was elected President the next year, it was seen as helpful in understanding his victory.
I was riveted by Sweat when I saw it on Broadway a couple of years ago (at a performance where the documentary filmmaker Michael Moore was in attendance). I look forward to revisiting it this week.
Also on Thursday, Soulpepper opens Mother’s Daughter, the third play in Kate Hennig’s popular trilogy of plays about the Tudors. This one focuses on Mary I, but since I reviewed director Alan Dilworth’s production at the Stratford Festival this past summer and it has almost entirely the same cast in Toronto, I won’t be going back to review. Here’s my review from Stratford – and here are my reviews of the first two instalments, The Last Wife and The Virgin Trial, to catch you up.
Speaking of new plays that premiered at the Stratford Festival, Erin Shields’s fascinating 2018 adaptation of Paradise Lost is now in Montreal at the Centaur Theatre, starting this week. Former Shaw Festival artistic director Jackie Maxwell again directs with a mix of Stratford and local Montreal actors in the cast. I highly recommended this one in Stratford.
Vancouver’s own Shakespeare festival, Bard on the Beach, had a hit a couple of years ago with a mash-up of As You Like It and the music of the Beatles. This brainchild of Daryl Cloran (who is the artistic director of the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton) is now in Winnipeg at the Manitoba Theatre Centre. While I haven’t seen the show myself, my colleague Marsha Lederman gave it the full four stars in Vancouver.
If you’re in Nanaimo, B.C., you may want to check out the innovative Inuit circus-theatre hybrid, Unikkaaqtuat on Monday next week when it stops by the Port Theatre. I went to see it at the National Arts Centre last week – here’s what I wrote about it.
Here in Toronto, in addition to Sweat, I’ll also be seeing a play I know next to nothing about: Casimir and Caroline, a new translation of a 1932 classic by the Austro-Hungarian German-language playwright Odon von Horvath (that was just namechecked in Noah Baumbach’s latest movie, Marriage Story), produced by the Howland Company, an up-and-coming young ensemble. Reminds of the type of show Soulpepper tackled in that ensemble’s early days. Look for my review early next week.
Stay tuned for a new theatre newsletter launching soon from The Globe and Mail’s critic J. Kelly Nestruck.