The International Children's Festival of the Arts through May 29 at various locations around Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West). $9-$15.50 (passes). For complete info, see Theatre Listings, page 80. 416-973-4000, www.harbourfrontcentre.com/milk.
Past Half Remembered (New International Theatre Encounter, Czechoslovakia/Norway/France/UK). Ages 11 and up. May 26 at 10:30 am, May 27 at 11:30 am, May 28 at 1 pm. Harbourfront Centre Theatre. Rating: NNN
Past Half Remembered gets full marks for ambition. Performed in many languages by an ensemble comfortable with various theatre styles (clown, music, tragedy), it examines one woman's life over nearly a century of Russian history.
While looking at an old photo, 100-year-old Maria Michailovna begins mourning her dead family and friends, especially her husband, a soldier who survived wars, revolutions, injuries and incarceration.
The show - alternatively playful, melancholy and romantic - takes us through a quick Russian history lesson, always stressing the human elements.
The tone wavers at times, and there's little sense of location. But many scenes pulse with life thanks to the actors' generosity and the simple yet effective staging. The Slavic music adds to the mysterious, captivating mood.