Friday, February 5, 2010

And So It Goes

The Factory Theatre presents the world premiere of George F. Walker’s new play And So It Goes until February 28.

It’s about middle class collapse. The play begins with the schizophrenic daughter watching a repo man take dad’s car. Dad was a financial whiz who is now unemployed. He tries pursuing a career as a pastry chef, with mixed results. The wife, meanwhile, has fantasy therapy sessions with the late novelist Kurt Vonnegut. Things get much worse. Eventually, the daughter runs away from home and becomes a crack-addicted homeless street whore. Her body is found with multiple stab wounds. Both parents are devastated. Dad buys a gun and seeks some sort of vengeance, while Mom continues to speak to the dead, both Vonnegut and her daughter. The daughter seems much better off dead, better dressed and more together. The parents eventually become homeless themselves, Dad holding up signs scrawled on cardboard and Mom living in a homeless shelter, guarding people’s shoes. At the end of the play, she tells her late daughter that they’re okay, Dad has his sloganeering and she has her shoe pile.

And So It Goes is not depressing, but despite the inclusion of the witty Kurt Vonnegut, it’s not particularly hilarious, either. I couldn’t help but identify with middle class collapse. I remember being rich in the 90s as well. This thought-provoking 80-minute play is Walker’s 24th show for the Factory Theatre, and his first in ten years, a welcome return for a major Canadian playwright.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Light In the Piazza

Acting Up Stage Company presents the Canadian premiere of The Light In the Piazza running until February 21. Like previous productions from this company, it is done with impeccable taste and style.

The story concerns an American mother who, in 1953, brings her slightly wonky 26-year-old daughter with her to Florence. The girl isn’t there five minutes before falling in love with a cute Italian boy. He doesn’t seem to notice that she is mentally challenged, which doesn’t say much about his acumen. It’s not much of a plot, but I felt for the mother. She is faced with that dilemma, when parents of retarded adults must face the fact that their child is a sexual being with needs.

It’s a lovely production, one that transported me to Italy and made me feel like I myself was on vacation. The sparse set and the well-chosen costumes both work well, and the performances, even when they border on ham, are quite charming. Patty Jamieson, who plays the mother, has a Patricia Clarkson quality, and the Italian brothers are played by good looking actors Jeff Lillico and Michael Torontow. Torontow is especially good at channeling Marcello Mastroianni. I enjoyed The Light In the Piazza very much.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Courageous, a new play by Michael Healey directed by Richard Rose, is playing at the Tarragon Theatre until February 7. I attended a matinee on January 17th.

It’s a very funny show, particularly the first act. The story begins at a magistrate’s office, where a white trash couple named Todd and Tammy are about to get married. The show practically starts mid-sentence, with Tammy confronting her best friend Lisa for recently blowing Todd. Their marriage is officiated by a gay Catholic named Tom. When, immediately afterward, a gay couple come in and asked to get married, Tom refuses to officiate because it’s against his religion. The idea of a gay man, in a gay relationship, refusing to perform a gay marriage is the drama’s initial thrust. The pushier of the two gays, a lawyer named Brian, sues Tom and ruins him, ruins his relationship with his rich, classy Sudanese boyfriend Arthur, and even ruins his own relationship with a man named Martin Guest. The pursuit of social justice can lead everyone down the crapper.

The second act is totally different, practically a different show with the same characters and set. It begins with Todd, the white trash guy, narrating the story of how he and his young bride Tammy start a life together. Tammy is never happy with Todd’s lack of ambition, and she is angry that a Somali man named George is given the coveted apartment across the hall. Eventually, they form a close bond with George, who becomes a Christian and exerts religious influence on the couple.

There were so many delicious bits in the script, like when the Sudanese man says Canada is virtually a “theme park of liberties”. There are great, long scenes full of excellent speeches about the nature of rights and freedoms, the sort of scenes actors just love to play. Generally, the performances were very good, in particular Maurice Dean Wint in the two black guys roles of Arthur and George. This is a very entertaining and thought-provoking play, and judging from the packed house, it seems that people, including myself, really like this show.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why Pornography Is Disgusting

Over the Christmas season, the following gay porn websites issued photo sets that included naked male models engaged in gay sex while wearing those fucking stupid Santa hats:

Broke Straight Boys
Broke College Boys
Straight Boys Fucking
Young Hot Latinos
Gay Asian Amateurs
Circle Jerk Boys
College Dudes 24 7
Extra Big Dicks
Corbin Fisher
Miami Boyz
Evan Rivers
Buzz West
UK Naked Men
Latin Jocks
Asian Guys
Blake Mason
Boyz Party
Berlin Male
Men Over 30
Active Duty

Randy Blue did the smart thing. They put up a fake Christmas tree, but left the guy unadorned by festive flourishes. Dirty Boy Video, however, wins the all-time Tacky Award, for putting their model in both a Rudolph red nose and a Nixon mask. The mind boggles.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind gay porn website companies that no sane, sensible gay man jerks off to pictures of models wearing Santa hats. All we need is hot guys, good lighting, and tumescence. Everything else – jack-o-lanterns, shamrocks, bunny ears, the list goes on - is totally unnecessary.

Please stop killing erections during the holiday season.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Single Man

A Single Man, directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, is based on a Christopher Isherwood novel. As such, it features an older Brit who has to fend off the advances of one young hunk after another. It should have been called A Lucky Man.

Colin Firth plays the Brit, and it’s the role of a lifetime for him, a likely Oscar nomination if only for the terrific scene near the beginning of the film, when he receives a phone call telling him that his lover of 16 years has been killed in a car crash. Firth’s acting is very moving, likewise in a scene where he and Julianne Moore, channeling Lynn Redgrave, talk about their past intimacy, and what could never be.

The movie is a tad overdirected. There are a million extreme close-ups of eyeballs and lips, and lots of scenes of nude men underwater. There’s also a bleached colour palate, rendering whole scenes in sepia. As a fashionista, Ford should have heeded the old adage to look in the mirror and take off one thing before going out the door. It’s hard not to admire his enthralling attention to period detail, though (the story is set in 1962). The tiny Aspirin container certainly jarred my memories. But what to make of the unfortunate comic suicide attempt?

The whole time I was watching, I kept thinking about the documentary Chris and Don, about Isherwood’s long-term relationship with the much younger artist, Don Bachardy. Apparently, they called each other by the nicknames 'Cat' and 'Horse'. A Single Man is thankfully free of that level of cuteness, but the sad tale isn’t quite sad enough.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wine Australia

Wine Australia held a launch of their new products at Sassafraz Restaurant in Yorkville on August 18, 2009. The purpose was to promote wines for the holiday season, even if it is several months away. It seemed odd to be listening to Christmas music on a hot August day, but when the spread is as awesome as this one, you really shouldn’t quibble.

My press kit tells me that Australia is the fourth largest wine exporter in the world, shipping 2.5 million bottles to over 100 countries annually. I figured as much, considering that everybody I know drinks Yellow Tail Shiraz. But the sheer variety of the wines on display this day couldn’t help but impress.

Wine Australia has created a brand strategy that divides wine makers into four categories. They are Brand Champions (the usual stuff that everyone buys at the liquor store); Generation Next (for people “who drink wine for social occasion and/or peer group affinity, rather than for wine attribute alone”); Regional Heroes (“These are wines from somewhere rather than wines from anywhere”); and Landmark Australia (consisting largely of expensive stuff found in nice restaurants like Sassafraz).

Typically of a tasting, one is given a glass with which to sample various brands. A tiny bit is poured, and you’re supposed to swish it around and smell it, but I just want to knock it back. I start with some chilled whites that look perfect on this sticky, humid day. The Terra Barossa Riesling 2008 ($14.95) is refreshing, as is the Leconfield Chardonnay 2008 ($22.95). Then I hop over to the red table and sample the Gemtree Vineyards Bloodstone Shiraz Viognier 2008 ($17.30) and the Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 ($19.95), both of which go down quite nicely. By now, I’m feeling a bit tizzy, so it was clearly time to visit the food table.

Here’s where Sassafraz has a chance to show off. The pile of prosciutto makes me happy, as does the crisp spinach salad with pumpkin seeds. Over at the hot table, a cute chef doles out the rarest rack of lamb and the biggest grilled prawns I’ve seen in ages. There is also a perfect potato salad and chocolates painted different metallic colours. I didn’t even touch the giant turkey with stuffing and cranberries, as I was just too full.

Finally, it was time to celebrate with a sparkling wine, and here is where the event went into overdrive. The Skillogalee Sparkling Riesling ($20.00) was crisp, delicious and dry, a near-perfect drink at a near-perfect event. I adore wine tasting, and when the company puts out a ravishing spread like Wine Australia and Sassafraz did on this day, it’s hard not to go home happy.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Razzle Dazzle

Jason Dinetz is a showman. His most recent presentation was called Razzle Dazzle, performed at Goodhandy’s on Aug. 8 and 9. At first I wasn’t even sure I was in Goodhandy’s, as Jason covered all of the naked men pictures with his own posters.

Jason’s commitment to his work is absolute. The production values were outstanding. The cast consisted of Jason and five lovely ladies (Rachelle Ganesh, Tara Joshi, Melissa Yang, Jackie Wood, and Jennifer Fell). They did more than back him up, they took the stage with bold choreography and one of the girls even does an aerial act.

Really, the whole show was very effective. Interspersed with the musical numbers was video playback, the best being his parody of MTV’s Cribs. Less effective was a reel of testimonials, my own included. We don’t need to hear how fabulous he is – we can see it. If I question anything, it might be Jason’s own costumes, verging on S&M Gap. I watched the whole show with Goodhandy’s security dude Matthew Pierce, and the two of us were dumbfounded over the artfully placed trousers zipper applied to Jason’s face during one particular number.

There were performances of “Ray of Light” and “Razzle Dazzle” from Chicago, as well as several songs from his own CD, Inspiration. I particularly enjoyed the stark presentation of the ballad “So Long Till Next Time”. But there were also whips and chains and masks and the whole show ended with a fire act. It was fine breathless entertainment. If things don’t work out for Jason Dinetz the performer, not to worry. Anyone who can mount a show like this would certainly flourish behind the scenes as well.