Culture & Conversation

Smiles All ‘Round

Have we all adequately recovered from this year’s Just For Laughs festival? Caught up on our sleep?  Rehydrated? Good: that means it’s time to reflect on some of the standout performances from the sensational line-up of talent and recall some of the better one-liners while we’re at it.

To Hell and Back

Still hot on the heels of her Giller Prize nominated novel The Antagonist, Lynn Coady returns with Hellgoing, her first short story collection since 2000’s Play The Monster Blind. These nine stories will quickly transport the reader into familiar Coady territory: troubled families, big city vs. small town drunks, pregnant teenagers, strained amorous relationships, the literary world and devout Catholics.

Devil in a white dress

Author Clive Barker is a sort of adult terrible in story weaving circles. A multi-disciplined myth maker — plays, novels, films, paintings — he has engendered tons of controversy. Meanwhile, director Jeremy Michael Segal has proven himself an enfant terrible by assembling eight young and talented actors (many, like himself, recent grads of the Dawson theatre program) to portray 31 characters in this cluttered work. Barker and Segal go Hamlet one better by literally holding a reflective mirror on stage to our nature. Is the Devil only a sad reflection of humanity?

Royally scattered

The Thursday night Britcom show at this year’s Just For Laughs illustrated the problematic nature of programming a night of comedy based on the performers all being from the same country. There was no real connective tissue between the acts other than in accent and in their not being women.

Too Much With Us

Books with titles as bold as The World can intimidate a prospective reader. Fear not, Bill Gaston’s most recent offering is accessible. But the question remains whether it’s worth diving into.

Bernie

Bernie’s Greens

Bernard Bonneau is over six feet tall, but when he stoops to pluck a leaf off one of his spinach plants he is like a kid in a candy shop. The grin on his face says it all.

Funny Girl

Tig Notaro has had a hell of a ride, but it pretty much made her career. She was a relatively unknown comic when, in four short months in 2012, she came down with pneumonia, caught C-difficile, buried her mother after a freak accident, survived breast cancer, and was dumped by her girlfriend. Unable to cancel a previously booked gig, she stood up on stage and just told her story. As they say in showbiz, it killed.