Dib And Dob And The Journey Home
Among the fine productions that family-oriented Roseneath Theatre has produced during its 30 years, one of the best is Dib And Dob And The Journey Home.
Written by company founders David S. Craig and Robert Morgan, the show focuses on brothers Dib and Dob, the former the controlling elder, the latter playful and impulsive. Lost in a forest and trying to find their way home, they're confronted by a monster tree and realize that home is defined by their emotional connection as much as by a physical place.
Think of it as a clown show for kids who range from junior kindergarten to Grade 4. Oh, and for their parents, too, who'll get as big a kick out of it as their youngsters. Older, more experienced theatregoers might see a link to another lost duo, Samuel Beckett's Vladimir and Estragon.
The show's out on tour again to schools, with a public performance Saturday (February 8), 7 pm, at Theatre Direct.
We caught a preview of this production, featuring Daniel Krolik as Dib and Colin Doyle as Dob, directed by Andrew Lamb. It catches all the push-pull tension between young sibs and their shared fears and comforts.
Speaking a semi-gibberish that's quickly clear to everyone, the brothers deal with their dread of the dark and, despite arguments about who's boss and how to drink their dwindling water supply, reveal a strong bond when the tree under which they sleep gobbles up one sib.
Krolik captures the commanding tone of an elder brother who always wants to be leader, suffering a minor internal explosion when he's told to take a time out. Doyle's physical comedy and engagement with the audience are a delight.
Karyn MacCallum's production is magical, with its puppet animals and flowers and the tree itself, a design wonder that swallows the characters and then disgorges them. The tree's a villain whose workings young viewers will want to know more about during the post-show Q&A.
Single Thread Theatre's known for its site-specific shows, including an impressive Much Ado About Nothing on the grounds of Spadina House and The Loyalists, staged at Fort York as part of the anniversary of the War of 1812.
Its latest production is Firebrand, a play by Alex Dault about the last years of Toronto's first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, who returns home in debt after a period of exile. Seeking financial help for his past services to local government, Mackenzie, a journalist and publisher, finds that some people, including family members, aren't ready to overlook his part in the Rebellion of 1837.
Don't expect a traditional presentation; that's not Single Thread's style. The production is staged in historic Mackenzie House, Mackenzie's restored home on Bond Street, where the audience follows the action through various rooms.
Greg Campbell, who's covered off dozens of Canadian historical figures in VideoCabaret productions, plays Mackenzie, with support from Clara Pasieka, Jakob Ehman, Caroline Toal, Michael Rawley and Burgandy Code. Jonathan Langley directs.
ABCs of freedom
After staging productions of Hamlet and It's A Wonderful Life, the Child and Teen Drama Program presents the premiere of James Valitchka and Elle Reyes's Underground Alphabet Railroad.
Dedicated to Nelson Mandela, the play looks at a group of children from different countries who befriend the offspring of black slaves in their towns and teach them to read, though such education is against the law.
The production, which looks at inclusion, acceptance and equality, blends text, music and choreography.
The cast includes actors aged five to 17 along with professional performers. By the end of the play, the youngsters speak as future leaders of their generation, reciting monologues as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Mahatma Gandhi and other world visionaries.
The 18-year-old Valitchka, one of the two playwrights, is the author of eight best-selling books.
One of Canada's finest stage artists, puppeteer Ronnie Burkett, spends so much time touring his shows that we rarely get to see his productions in Toronto.
He's reviving his latest, The Daisy Theatre, at the Factory Studio beginning Wednesday (February 12). The work was originally created for the Luminato Festival.
Drawing on puppets from earlier shows, Burkett works improv-fashion, creating a different play every night, one that includes cabaret turns, news commentary and a short work by one of a number of well-known Canadian playwrights, among them Daniel MacIvor, Joan MacLeod, Anusree Roy, Damien Atkins and Chris Craddock.
Don't miss this master creator at work.
One of New York theatre's recent successes, Nina Raine's Tribes, comes to Canadian Stage's Berkeley Street Theatre in a co-pro between Theatrefront, Canadian Stage and Theatre Aquarius.
Its central character, Billy, deaf from birth, has been raised in a family that makes him part of their hearing world. Only when he meets a young woman who is becoming deaf does he question his identity and rebel against his family.
Directed by Daryl Cloran, the production features Stephen Drabicki, a hard-of-hearing actor, as Billy, with Patricia Fagan, Holly Lewis, Nancy Palk, Dylan Trowbridge and Joseph Ziegler rounding out the cast.
For Wednesday performances, Canadian Stage partners with the Deaf Culture Centre, located in the nearby Distillery District, to host workshops centred on the experience of being deaf. For more info, see deafculturecentre.ca. Performances on February 7 and 9 will be interpreted in American Sign Language, which figures prominently in the production.