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Morning After (A)
*Trigger Warning- Morning After deals with sexual assault.
Morning After is a tour de force. It is akin to the moment hot metal touches cold water, spluttering and hissing before settling to a stillness. The ensemble takes hold of the audience from the very beginning of the show and doesn’t let go for 60 minutes. The choral work (choreographed by Annika McCabe) is hauntingly beautiful, especially when combined with the almost always present vocals (composed and directed by Hanna Mulak and Olivia Neary-Hatton). Creator Katarina Fiallos has crafted a heart wrenching pathway for the audience to follow. It effortlessly flows between moments of unbearable pain to those of uproarious joy. Fiallos’ words, combined with the unapologetic and raw performances given, makes for truly great theatre.
Jessie and Me (B+)
With Jessie and Me, Natalie Morgan brings us back to the beginning of the pandemic. The start of the show helps to get the audience back into the feeling of that time as we are introduced to Agatha, a woman making concrete (kind of) plans to drastically change the direction of her life going into 2020. In the opening moments of the show, when Natalie is connecting directly to the audience, her performance is grounded and dialed in. This helps to keep the audience engaged in the story. Jessie and Me really gets going when the audience meets Jessie, Agatha’s childhood doll. Natalie’s ability to give Jessie life creates a lovely dynamic and sets up some very funny moments. Jessie and Me is a slow burn but it features a solid performance and satisfying story.
Mail Ordered (B+)
Shanice Stanislaus, the creator and star of Mail Ordered, makes it clear from the top of the show that the audience is going to be involved in finding Lila a husband. Lila’s extreme innocence wins the audience’s heart immediately and establishes a safe space to participate. In the first half of the show there are plenty of laugh out loud moments as Lila presents herself in an attempt to be bought. There is a minor dip in energy in the middle of the show, where the action becomes a bit more stationary, and the pace slows down. After this section, however, is the best part of the show, which without spoiling anything is unexpected and truly hilarious. Mail Ordered is a delight, featuring an engaging performance by Stanislaus and a whole lot of laughter.
White Collars (B)
White Collars begins the way the big corporate events do: an inspirational voiceover backed by inspirational music (although in this case our inspirational voice, Maya Cieszynska, can’t quite decide on the message they want to send). Then there is the pump-up music with the hosts, Arun Kirupananthan, Braeden Banks and Maya Cieszynska awkwardly dancing a la Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer, trying to hype up the crowd. The stage is set for a comedy show about corporate life. The trio do a good job of interacting with the audience in the first act. There were a few awkward beats, where energy faltered or one of the hosts got stuck in a moment. The sketch portion of the show is the highlight. Ken Hall’s direction is subtle, and the cast’s physical comedy is delightful, leading to some big laughs. The sketches are inspired by Maya, Arun, and Braeden’s experiences in the corporate world. White Collars has solid performances, fun moments, and some highly relatable workplace content.
House of Whale (C+)
The House of Whale starts off at a plodding pace, which permeates the entirety of the piece, and as a result the show never really gets going until it is too late. There are a few in the ensemble that stand out- Esther Chung as Joe and James Smith as Jonah, both providing some great moments as comic relief. However, as a whole, the stakes of the piece only seem to land for the ensemble in the final third of the show, where there are a handful of genuinely grounded and impactful moments. Andre Newell, the writer and director of the show, has sprinkled some witty lines throughout the script but by in large it is predictable how the story will end. House of Whale offers a few laughs and some smart writing but ultimately doesn’t do enough to make the audience invested in the characters’ journeys.
AHAHA is reminiscent of the Fast and Furious movie franchise. It starts off fairly normal, with a bit of awkwardness perhaps, but then it goes zero to a hundred very quickly. The cast, to their credit, bring the energy but there’s not a whole lot in the script that goes beyond surface level. The moments that could be used to dig deeper seem to be glossed over by director Ezequiel Garcia, which starts to make everything feel one note. There is a lot happening in AHAHA and there are definitely some funny moments, but these are overshadowed by the breakneck pace the show goes at. There are a lot of surprises in this show, each moment gets more and more outrageous, but the audience doesn’t always get the comedy due to a lack of specificity and at time vocal clarity.