As Toronto's seventh annual du Maurier World Stage Festival ends its first week, the general buzz on the international event has been positive, but not exclusively so.
One show dividing critics is Robert Lepage's newest work, Geometry of Miracles, which is still in its workshop phase. The Globe and Mail blasted the show, saying it "plays to his (Lepage's) weaknesses, making him appear an intellectually pretentious director entranced with trickery."
A kinder Toronto Star report said the production "incorporated every new idea Lepage has had since the River Ota sagas...(which)...nontheless does not wreck its eminently watchable quality and the time (three-and-one-half-hours) goes by in a flash."
There was general agreement about Dublin's Gate Theatre production of Beckett's Waiting For Godot, which has been touring for seven years but is only now making its Canadian debut. The Globe concluded that "it's such good theatre that it leaves you with that particular and pleasant inebriation that can't be found anywhere else," while The Star called it "thrilling."
The "whimsy" of Chile's La Troppa was also hailed critically with its production of Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth. The dark Disco Pigs, by Ireland's Corcadorca, uses a Pidgin dialect to tell the story of two disadvantaged teenage friends whose relationship ends in tragedy. One staff member of Harbourfront Centre (site of the Festival) admitted that some audience members are reacting negatively to the language difficulties. The press has been positive however, particularly praising the work of the two performers, Eileen Walsh and Cillian Murphy.
A Bertolt Brecht tribute, in honour of the German playwright's 100th birthday, drew the cream of the Canadian theatrical crop to an 11 PM show, not only onstage, but also in the audience. Performers included Tony award-winning Brent Carver, Shaw Festival's Nora McLellan, pop star Jane Siberry, actor Judith Lander (who worked with Lotta Lenya in the original cast of From Berlin To Broadway) and singer John Alcorn, among other.
The festival continues to May 3, with the majority of productions still to open.
For information and tickets call: 416-973-4000.
-- By Mira Friedlander