The Daily Show's Jon Stewart may have been the headliner, but Canadians held their own at the Comedy Network fifth-anniversary gala last Saturday at Roy Thomson Hall. Derek Edwards and Jeremy Hotz got bigger laughs than Stewart, who delivered an uneven set that was equal parts sharp political satire and lukewarm observations.
Disappointments included a svelte but underprepared Mike Bullard and host Elvira Kurt, who despite lots of energy couldn't quite win over the audience.
It didn't help that the acoustics in the newly refurbished RTH actually kill laughter. And, yes, that was Tom Green wandering around at the post-show party.
Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest, the season opener at Ryerson Theatre School, uses grammar lessons as its framework. Devised with British and Romanian theatre students immediately following the 1989 Romanian revolution, it follows two Bucharest families caught up in the country's political and emotional changes.
Director Eda Holmes knows how to work with a large cast and provide thrilling staging, especially for a first-act ending that chronicles the fighting from several viewpoints. Keep an eye on Zainab Musa, who has a wonderful stage presence as Lucia, the daughter who marries an American but is unable to cut her ties to her homeland.
Can't wait for the talented Holmes's next projects -- directing Morwyn Brebner's Little Mercy's First Murder at the Tarragon and helming Sharon Pollock's Blood Relations at the Shaw Festival.
Alumnae Theatre's annual New Ideas Festival, set for next March, gives winning works their first stage presentation. Experienced directors work with new writers, and the audience offers feedback on the results. Interested writers should send full-length works, one-acts or project outlines to New Ideas Festival, 70 Berkeley, Toronto M5A 2W6. Deadline is October 15. For more info, call 416-364-4170 or check out www.alumnaetheatre.com.