PERFECT STRANGERS, by Stan Rogal, directed by Sanjay Talwar, with John Watson, Eloisa Weber, Rosalie McDougall and David Frisch. Presented by Bulletproof Theatre at Artword Theatre. July 14 and 16 at 3 pm, July 15 at 7:30 pm. Rating: NN
A look at the degree to which people sell themselves in life and relationships, Perfect Strangers offers some thoughts on stripping, art, abusive relationships and nude modelling. But while there's an occasional note of multilevel ambiguity in the writing and some cleverness in paralleling lines and situations, this adapted short story by Stan Rogal is not an effective stage piece.
The parts are generally two-dimensional, and it's only Eloisa Weber as an enigmatic woman fleeing a nasty lover who suggests a complex blend of sensuality, insecurity, and tenderness. And I wish the nudity didn't feel so gratuitous. JK
*BECOMING SARAH, written and performed by Martina Gail. Presented by Jewpiter Productions at George Ignatieff Theatre. July 13 at 3:30 pm and July 16 at 8 pm. Rating: NNNN
It can go either way with comedians. Some can make a smooth transition from standing alone behind a mike and telling jokes to endeavours more theatrical. Others can't act their way out of a paper bag.
Toronto stand-up and part-time exotic dancer Martina Gail is one of the former, and she proves it in style as she bares her soul -- and her intellect -- in Becoming Sarah, her hot and heavy one-woman show about life working in the strip bars.
Gail puts her considerable comedy-club talents -- including an array of dead-on dialects and a sharp sense of timing -- to excellent use, and reveals an upbeat flair for writing, a compelling singing voice, and facility on guitar, to boot, in this raucous, self-revelatory and often brutally honest effort.
JEREMY'S GERMS, created by the company, directed by Kate Keenan, with Lesley Halferty, Keith Barker, Keenan, Lara Koretsky and Eric Grimstead. Presented by Shrimp Magnet Theatre at the Palmerston Library Theatre. July 13 at 8:15 pm, July 14 at 7 pm, July 15 at 4:15 pm, July 16 at 1:30 pm. Rating: NNN
Body parts take on a whole new meaning when you've been inside them. In the kids' show Jeremy's Germs, we travel into Jeremy's body to fight his flu germs, and get a dose of adult comedy as well.
It's a broad, audience-participation style of performing, with the doctor (Keith Barker) becoming General Anesthetic, leading a counter-attack with the help of Jeremy (Lesley Halferty). Best of all -- in addition to viewers throwing Vitamin C pills at the nasty, icky germs -- is director Kate Keenan as a variety of organs, including a telephone-operator brain and an insecure stomach with an image problem. JK
*ICARA, written and directed by Ned Dickens, with Bruce Beaton and Risa Dickens. Presented by Ananke Theatre on the north lawn of Central Tech (725 Bathurst). July 13-15 at 6 pm, July 16 at 6:30 pm. Rating: NNNN
Ned Dickens's smooth, poetry-tinged rewriting of the Icarus legend becomes both a birthday present for his daughter Risa Dickens -- who brings innocence and luminosity to the title role -- and a rite-of-passage drama about the maturing of a young woman. The outdoor show uses simple staging to introduce the close bond between the inventor Daedalus -- a moving Bruce Beaton -- and his youthfully impetuous child Icara before moving on to the necessary next step, the offspring leaving the nest.
There's much to admire in the script and the production, not least the sexual note struck by Icara's departure, when both she and her father know that in growing up she is destined for the home -- and arms -- of another. JK
STILL WAITING FOR THAT SPECIAL BUS, written and performed by Alan Shain, directed by Dawn Hanna. Presented by Smashing Stereotypes Productions at Artword Theatre. July 13 at 1:30 pm, July 14 at 4:30 pm, July 15 at 10:30 pm. Rating: NNN
The last thing that Alan Shain wants is pity, from either the audience or another character. In Still Waiting For That Special Bus, the disabled -- his word -- performer plays out a tale that must have autobiographical echoes. A man dependent on a walker meets a woman at a party, makes a date with her and then waits impatiently for the necessary Wheel-Trans to meet her at a bar.