Bad Hats Theatre’s Peter Pan: a creaky story well told

Carousel Theatre is presenting Bad Had Theatre's Peter Pan

Check out the cool horns that costumer Kiara Lawson has given Slightly (Victor Dolhai)
(Photo by Tim Matheson)

Peter Pan is not the most progressive story in the world. Even in this adaptation, which has excised Tiger Lily along with all of the other Indians, reactionary gender norms haunt the tale like the ghosts of every frickin’ Christmas past. Through Wendy, girls are taught that their highest calling — their only calling — is to become dutiful little mothers: to take care of absolutely everybody else’s emotional needs and to stitch Peter’s shadow back onto his feet. The boys? When Captain Hook is forcing some of the Lost Boys to walk the plank, Wendy pulls herself up to her full Victorian glory and declares, “I think I speak for all mothers when I say we hope our sons will die like proper gentlemen.”

At the end of the show, the actors introduce themselves and state their preferred pronouns but, given the script, that gesture feels empty.

Okay. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let me offer another perspective. I attended this performance with my three-year-old neighbour Nola. It was Nola’s first time at the theatre. When I asked her what her favourite part was, she replied, “All of it.” [Read more…]

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: children’s theatre can do better

Carousel Theatre for Young People is presenting The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at the Waterfront Theatre.

Sereana Malani as the White Witch. If only evil were always this stylin’.

During the holiday season, adults are eager to take the kids in their lives to the theatre. That lovely human impulse should be rewarded with first-rate art. Unfortunately, Carousel Theatre for Young People’s production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is only okay. [Read more…]

Going to the theatre with kids: I highly recommend it

Carousel Theatre, Shizuoka Kai, Go, Dog. Go!

Shizuka Kai’s design creates a stylish, magical world for Carousel Theatre’s Go, Dog. Go!

Yesterday, I took my six-year-old neighbour, Abraham, to see Carousel Theatre’s Go, Dog. Go! It was the first time that Abraham had ever seen a play.

The script is very simple. Based on P.D. Eastman’s book, it’s a lot like the old Dick and Jane readers, or the more basic material on Sesame Street: the author uses repetitive text and simple interactions among a group of dogs to introduce vocabulary and simple concepts that are often related to colour and space: “The red dog is in. The blue dog is out.”

But that description doesn’t begin to capture the fun. Designed by Shizuka Kai, Carousel’s production has a bright, picture-book look, complete with two-dimensional props, including outsized, flat ice-cream cones that the actors goofily pretend to lick. And those actors, especially the playful Allan Zynik—chief ice-cream licker—are having a very good time.

But the kids are the thing, really. A couple of little guys behind me were loudly perplexed by theatrical conventions at first: “That’s not like my book at home!” But they were soon so amused by the dogs’ antics, including their refusal to go to sleep when told, that they were chortling uncontrollably. (In case you haven’t heard it lately, kids’ chortling is the most intoxicating sound in the world.)

And the best thing of all was spending time with Abraham. When we were crossing the street to get to the theatre, I said, “Careful. There are lots of cars”, and he reached up and took my hand. Melt me and make me into a chocolate bar. And, when we were driving home, I said he seems to have a lot of fun playing hockey with his friends in the courtyard of the co-op where we both live. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “I like being goalie the best. Yesterday, I probably made 20 unforgettable saves.”

We’ll be going to the theatre again—to enjoy shows, and for the pleasure of one another’s company.

Sign up—free!—

YEAH, THIS IS ANNOYING. But my theatre newsletter is fun!

Sign up and get curated international coverage + local reviews every Thursday!