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The Murder Play (September 2017)

From The Coast (https://bit.ly/2J2RT0o)

A spectre (Malia Rogers) is haunting four people, and they have nothing to lose but each other. The Murder Play is a tightly wound melodrama revolving around Lillian (Alex Cubbon), Corinne (Kya Mosey), Max (Jack Smith) and Herb (Sam Vigneault). They meet in a death cult, fall in love with one another, and fulfill a moving meditation on misanthropy and murder.
Both female actors have enormous talent in the way they move and use their eyes throughout the play. The face is alluded to several times as a counterpart of the soul, like our noses we block from our vision: “In confronting evil you must first recognize that evil within… just a few millimetres before our eyes,” says Lillian.
Writer Mark Foster is an expert at combining sex, blood, gore, and the ethical questions that tie it all together, the most notable one being: “What have I done to deserve this?” Director Lara Lewis fills in with periodical PA system reminders of the spectre’s ongoing victims. The Murder Play is sure to please even the most discerning critic. – Rana Encol”


Rut (September 2016)

From The Coast (https://bit.ly/2H8Wiyn)

“Rut is playing in a very small venue, and there is no room to cram in more chairs for an overflow crowd. Go to your communication device now. Buy your ticket now.
Two straight couples are in the beginnings of relationships. Jack (Justin Moir) and Molly (Alexandra Cubbon) meet in a school library. Hannah (Paisley Conrad) and Dez (Peter Sarty) meet in a bar. Hannah and Molly are friends, as are Jack and Dez. The action switches between the two men talking about the women, the two women talking about the men, and each couple.
The stage is set with a small couch, table, and chairs. The actors do most of the shifting of this furniture, and do it very well. The library study table becomes a table in a bar with the addition of a red checked plastic table cloth. There’s been some brainstorming somewhere to figure out how to do these shifts, and it all works very nicely.
First off, Mark Foster’s writing is great. He has a terrific ear for dialogue. Everything the characters say (and they say a whole hell of a lot) rings true and natural. Characters don’t proclaim. Sometimes they’re fast talkers. Sometimes not. Just like in life.
Second, the acting is solid. It’s real acting. All four actors do really fine work; Paisley Conrad as Hannah is the stand out. Her Hannah is a whirlwind of sour and sadness; elation and inebriation. She has a great potty mouth. She’s the most physical of the four. At one point she and Molly are sitting on a table, with drinks; Hannah’s drink is knocked over and a big puddle spreads over the table. Was it supposed to? Hannah takes off her shirt and mops it up, laughing. Or is it Conrad mopping up the mess, responding beautifully to an on-stage accident?
The four are watched by two gods: Latitua, God of Performance, and Coninua, God of Community, who start the play off and sit off to the side, occasionally commenting on the entanglements of the mere mortals, and pulling strings. Genny Dow’s Latitua is a terrific worry wart; Edie Reany Chunn’s Coninua is a bit of a smooth criminal. Props to costume designer Naomi Froese for their robes.
All that said, no fringe play should be more than 60 minutes long, and Rutclocks in at 80. Risky. Here’s a thought: get rid of the Gods. The airy fairy question of whether or not they meddle with mortals could be tackled by Foster in another work. Here the nuts and bolts of how Jack, Molly, Hannah and Dez are going about things is much much much more interesting.
All for a measly five bucks. —JK [Jane Kansas]


A Grand Guignol Double Bill! (September 2015)

From The Coast ():

“Taboo theatre remains committed to reproducing the experience of attending Grand Guignol in early Twentieth Century France. As in previous iterations of Taboo’s horror anthology series, Double Bill utilizes a framing device whereby a host or hostess (here played by Andrea Dymond with palpable relish) welcomes us to the theatre and prepares us for the frights to come.

The first play, “A Terrible Misstep,” is less a horror story than a witty and cheerfully morbid comedy of manners. Assisted by the actors’ precise timing and delivery, the black humour of the dialogue remains funny right up to and including the play’s literal last moment.

The second, and slightly less successful, play, “How’d You Get Those Eyes?” is a more traditional Grand Guignol offering, containing bloody knife fights and graphic enucleations (look it up if you dare). The staging is particularly effective, allowing us to feel repulsion at what we only half-glimpse.

In an age when “horror” usually means watching CGI gore in a darkened movie theatre, there’s something wonderfully enticing and visceral about Taboo Theatre’s revival of Grand Guignol. I, for one, would be in favour of even longer anthologies. It would be a hell of a night out.

– Martin Wallace


The Madonna Painter by Michel Marc Bouchard (June 2013)

Review from The Coast: (https://bit.ly/2JYHRyL)

The Madonna Painter is really quite extraordinary.

This play, by French Canadian playwright Michel Marc Bouchard, is set in a small Quebec town in 1918 (although the time and place are not explicitly, at least to me, in the Taboo Theatre production) during a devestating flu epidemic. In response to the outbreak, the town’s new priest (played by Dan Bray) commissions a work of art as a kind of appeasement to God and a beacon of hope for devotees.

The triptych is paid for by the town’s creey doctor (Andrew Gouthro) and painted by a magnetic outsider (Ray Ellis), who auditions and selects a local girl to model as the Madonna for the painting.

There are so many lovely and intriguing characters in this play: a young girl (Kate Bray) who reads bed sheets like tea leaves, a wanton (Vikki Humphrey) who sacrifices everything for a kiss, a charmingly guilible innocent (Gina Thornhill), who falls in love with the priest, and a mystic (Paige Smith), who swallows the sins of others.

But the play is also filled with terrible images of death and horror: severed limbs, dripping hearts, flayed skin and terrible disfigurement.

It is this collision of beauty and horror that makes this play truly remarkable.

— Kate Watson


Phaedra’s Love by Sarah Kane (June 2012)

The Coast May 9


Banned Aid Fundraiser (April 2012)

arts in brief herald


Festival of Fear: Another Evening of Grand Guignol (Oct. 2011)

From The Coast (https://bit.ly/2qHsnGF)

“Taboo Theatre’s An Evening of Grand Guignol is a series of hree plays designed to chill your blood and tickle your funny bone. The first play “In the Darkroom” falls into the chilling category, but by today’s standards, the scary pay-off to the extended lead-upis not too scary at all. “Chop-Chop!” is an amusing tale of a kinky love affair, but again, the ending is foreseeable from miles away. It is the third play, “Private Room #6” that makes the whole production truly memorable. Directed by Mike Chandler (who also plays the evening’s genial and very French MC), this tense thriller stars (and I mean stars!) Pasha Ebrahimi as an all-too human monster. Terrifant et terrifique!

–Kate Watson


A Box, A Bag and A Bottle (May 2011)

BBB in the coast

An Evening of Grand Guignol (Oct. 2010)

gg1 2010 the coast sure thing crop

GG1

Adult Entertainment (Oct. 2009)

The Coast Theatre Year in Review Adult Entertainment

the coast

herald page 1

herald page 2

The Whores by Charles Crosby (April 2007)

From Curtain Rising Magazine (Vol. 1, Issue 8) – June 19, 2007:

page-5

page-6

Story from CBC Radio:

Friday, May 18: Reaction to The Whores: A Halifax sex trade worker gives her thoughts a new play on stage this weekend.

A new play in Halifax is shedding some light on the hidden life of women who work in the sex trade. The play is called The Whores. It tells the story of five sex trade workers who work in Halifax, and it deals with stereotypes and stigma; abuse and murder. The Whores is based on real-life stories that were collected by writer and director Charles Crosby when he was a journalism student in 1994. Our arts producer Phlis McGregor went to see the play. And so did someone we’ll call Joanne. She’s a sex trade worker in Halifax who has been working in the industry for forty years – she started when she was thirteen.
Phlis and Joanne sat down together to talk about the play. The play is on stage twice tonight and twice again tomorrow. It’s at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street. All proceeds from the play go Stepping Stone – an organization that advocates for the safety, health and well being of sex trade workers.

Excerpts from a review of The Whores:

Controversial Play Packs ‘Em In
Ron Foley Macdonald
Add a Comment Read Comments Printer-friendly format E-mail article
Charles Crosby is a fascinating figure on Halifax’s busy arts scene. A determined do-it-yourself writer and dramatist, he’s produced his own plays and had a couple of books published while holding down a demanding full time public relations day job for Dalhousie University.Crosby’s latest theatrical project, a slice-of-life documentary drama entitled The Whores, has just finished up a sold-out run at the Bus Stop theatre on Gottingen Street in Halifax’s North End. Unsurprisingly, the writer’s polished PR skills created a wave of media interest for the play with major outlets including CBC Radio, the Daily News and the Halifax Chronicle Herald all giving the production major coverage. The Coast, Halifax’s free alternative weekly, even helped sponsor the show.Now’s there’s even talk of another run and/or a tour of The Whores. It all speaks to vital and wide-ranging interest in local theatre in Nova Scotia’s capital city that bodes well for the sector in general.[…]…as a playwright, Charles Crosby is a great publicist. The Whores is not without its attractions. Seeing five forceful female actors acting out the world’s oldest profession on the streets and in the private rooms of Halifax is something that is practically guaranteed to draw a crowd.[…]…in popular culture, prostitution has been directly portrayed in many documentaries and several dramatic features over the last few decades. 1986’s Working Girls, by the feminist filmmaker Lizzie Borden, took almost the exact same tack as Crosby in presenting a matter-of-fact portrayal of a day in the life of a New York brothel, for example. Discussed in the banal terms of everyday work, prostitution can seem strangely remote and distant.Theatrically, you can reach back more than one hundred years ago to George Bernard Shaw’s Victorian-era play Mr. Warren’s Profession to see a frank discussion of prostitution. First put on privately in 1902, the public had to wait until 1925 to see it performed on a commercial stage. Hollywood, on the other hand, has almost always glamorized the world’s oldest profession, most recently with the wildly popular Julia Roberts/Richard Gere vehicle Pretty Woman.So if Crosby is not offering anything particularly new in The Whores, there remains the question just what is it he is putting on stage. Well, there’s five characters drawn from interviews he did for a university project at Mount Saint Vincent in the mid-1990s.[…]The dialogue weaves back and forth rapidly between each character as they are separated in differing corners of the theatrical space…Structurally, the material is divided up into journalistically-decided sections such as the mechanics of the trade, how long each character has been involved, the use or non-use of controlled substances, and what they really think about men. The hour-long play peters out at about the 45-minute mark. It then rushes to a conclusion when an act of violence forces the women to re-consider whether they should continue in such an obviously dangerous occupation.[…]Veronica Reynolds, as Mary the high-end escort, and Lynn Reicker, as Carnie the veteran streetwalker, both managed to build more definitive and convincing characterizations.[…]

Still, seeing a locally-written play stir up so much interest leaves something of a positive impression for the local drama scene.

For more information on the playwright, check out http://www.charlescrosby.ca.

© Ron Foley Macdonald 2007

Author’s BiographyRon Foley Macdonald is a freelance writer and film programmer who has worked The National Film Board, The CBC, and Atlantic Film Festival. He is currently writing theatre reviews for The Daily News.

A Midlife Marriage by Charles Crosby (Atlantic Fringe Festival 2006)

A Midlife Marriage Review

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