Fringe Review 2016 – Defining Womanhood Through Dance

By Jay Ménard,

How does one carve their own identity, embrace their own idea of femininity and humanity in a world that has structural biases in place that serve to help hold back individuality and encourage conformity? That’s the question The Dance Movement’s company dancers ask – and demand – of its audience in its Palace Theatre production at this year’s London Fringe.

Sit Still Look Pretty challenges the concepts of body perception, the impact of advertising ideals, cosmetic surgery, the struggle to speak up, and the pressure to conform through a series of interpretive dances. Continue reading

Fringe Review 2016 – A Glass Eye Serves as a Window Into One’s Soul

By Jay Ménard

Fringe offers a venue for stories that may not otherwise get told. They afford a performer a level of intimacy that may not be permitted by larger, more cavernous venues, or that may be impeded by a screen.

At its best, Fringe is about sharing stories. It’s about falling in love with a performer and letting him or her transport you away for an hour.

And this year, at London’s Fringe Festival, on the Palace Theatre stage, accompanied only by a microphone for the most part — that’s how a woman with one ‘glass’ eye was able to allow us, the audience, to see clearly into her soul. And it’s how she was able to reach out and touch ours. Continue reading

Fringe 2016 Review – An Off Target Jesse James

By Jay Menard

Despite the legendary shooting acumen of its title character, Mr. Richardson was Jesse James, currently playing at The Palace Theatre as part of the London Fringe Festival, either misses the mark or, more appropriately, may not be sure what target it’s trying to hit.

The play bills itself as an Ontario South Western. But it reminded me more of my youth growing up in Montreal. Frontier Town, located in upstate New York, was a destination of choice for families looking for a vacation spot during the late 70s and early 80s. It was a place where the bad guys wore black hats, the kids would dress up as cowboys, and with cap guns in hand, we’d “shoot” the train robber, get our faces printed on the local newspaper, and walk away heroes. Continue reading

Fringe 2016 Review – 2 for Tea a Masterpiece of Refined Chaos

By Jay Menard,

It is hard to classify James & Jamesy’s 2 for Tea. It is at once a physical comedy and a touching story of friendship and love. It’s at the same time a paean to precision and an exercise in controlled chaos. It is both an homage to the great comedy duos of the past whilst remaining a contemporary delight that keeps getting better.

The easiest way to classify 2 for Tea is to say that it’s a must-see production on this year’s Fringe circuit. Continue reading

A One-Track Focus on LRT Bypasses Needs of the Many to Satisfy Vision of Few

The one thing about trains — when they’re coming your way, you’ve got to be the one that gets out of the path, because they’ll run right through you. And that appears to be the tactic that LRT proponents are using in their emotion-filled arguments responding to City staff’s recommendation for adopting the less-expensive BRT system.

After all, if you’re against LRT, you hate London, right? At least that’s what the tenor of the conversation has been. You hate London, you’re anti-progress unless you’re all-in.

I happen to disagree. And this one-track focus on LRT as the be all and end all of transit solutions is only serving to bypass the needs of the many in its headlong rush to satisfy the vision of a select few. But I guess I foolishly define “progress” by solutions that benefit all demographics. Continue reading

Dundas Flex Street Needs Some Muscle

By Jay Menard

You can flex all you want. If there’s no muscle behind it, no one’s taking a second look.

London’s council recently endorsed a $15.9-million plan to create Dundas Place — transitioning a stretch of Dundas St. from Wellington St. to the Thames River into a flex street.

The idea, is sound in principle. But while there’s been a lot of talk about transformation — an empty word that can be filled by any concept that fits your desires — there’s little talk about sustainability.

And that’s where the concern is.

I love the idea of a flex street. I’ve seen it work. But I don’t love the idea of a flex street as the first step in a process. Dundas Place has a strong “If you build it, they will come feel.”

And that’s true. They’ll come.

Once.

After that? You’ve got to give them a reason to keep coming back. Continue reading

We Play a ‘Trump’ Card with Increasing Regularity – And It’s No Game

By Jay Menard

For all those saying this “Trump” thing isn’t funny anymore, turns out the joke’s on us. After all, Donald Trump is nothing more than a reflection of how we play politics — and if you don’t like what you’re seeing, take a look in the mirror because Trump is just a reflection of how we play the game.

And it’s not too long until we have our own Trump her in the Great White North (and, no, Mr. O’Leary, I’m not ONLY looking at you.) Thanks to hyperpartisanship, a predilection for self-congratulatory confirmation bias, and a Zealous approach to framing arguments based not on merit, but rather on side (right/left/Conservative/Liberal), we’re well on the way to dealing ourselves a similar hand in Canada. Continue reading