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Staff Picks: Our Next Stage Theatre Festival 2012 Primer

Tomasso's Party is but one of the lauded independent productions at this year's Next Stage Theatre Festival

Now celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Next Stage Theatre Festival rounds up the best that the North American fringe circuit has to offer—all at one venue, the venerable Factory Theatre. New this year is the Ante-Chamber Stage, a forum for debuting short works and showcasing old favourites. Take in the finest edgy, indie productions, and even enjoy a fine brew at the heated McAuslan beer tent. Performances take place from January 4 to 15. Click here for further details and showtimes.

Hypnogogic Logic
Four-man comedy troupe Uncalled For returns to the stage with its award-winning Hypnogogic Logic, which explores the wide, wild world of dreams. Sporting life jackets to better navigate the rapids of the unconscious, the performers encounter Freddie Mercury, wordy street preachers and other absurd figments of their collective imagination, all while offering their signature wit, clever writing and the unpredictable hilarity of sketch comedy.

Living with Henry
Part of 2011’s “Best of Fringe,” Living with Henry is the story of Michael—recently diagnosed with HIV and envisioning the illness as a jealous man who haunts him throughout his relationships. Sometimes comic, always thought provoking, this musical drama reframes AIDS as a chronic disease rather than a death sentence, without diminishing its personal, physical and societal complications.

Love is a Poverty You Can Sell
Soup Can Theatre presents this decadent cabaret-style creation featuring show-stopping numbers from Sweeney Todd and Threepenny Opera. Hosted by two emcees, the production is a tribute to the works of legendary composer Kurt Weill and channels 1920’s Berlin in a night that’s brought critics to their feet since its 2009 opening.

Inspired by a true story, LoveSexMoney takes a look at intimacy—or the lack thereof—in the digital age. A young woman sells her virginity online, and is poised to consummate when her scorned ex-boyfriend arrives on the scene. Hilarity ensues. This naughty production by Theatre Brouhaha openly exposes the world of Japanese erotic toys, custom-made dolls and love thwarted by the Internet.

Loving the Stranger or How to Recognize an Invert
Ecce Homo Theatre is known for its genre-bending socio-political commentary; this production is exemplary of the company’s ethos. A co-production with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and the SummerWorks Theatre Festival, Loving the Stranger describes— through Brechtian cabaret, political theatre and camp—the life of a man who is arrested for homosexuality by the Nazi regime.

Modern Love
On the surface, loneliness seems at odds with the age of digital interconnectedness, but writer and performer Jessica Moss begs to differ. This Theatre Caravel production has rightfully garnered praise for asking “When you carry everyone you know in your pocket all the time, why is it so hard to connect?”

Morro & Jasp: Go Bake Yourself
Celebrated clown-sister duo Morro and Jasp debut their new show, which spoofs cooking-show fixtures such as Hell’s Kitchen and Martha Stewart. Morro and Jasp are thoroughly trained in Pochinko-based clown techniques, and their studies have paid off: they were Canadian Comedy Award nominees in 2011, and have appeared in more 100 performances over the past four years.

Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A Go-Go
Surfers, macho men and beach babes unite for a theatrical throwback to ‘60s beach movies. This “Best of Fringe” show sets a young couple and their plans for a last-blast sun-and-sand party in the path of nefarious beach villain known as the “Big Tuna.” Surfboards settle the score while the cast dances and frolics to new and classic beach tunes.

Tomasso’s Party
Madeleine and Hugo are going to a party; she wants to, he does not. The premise is simple but the product is a nuanced exploration of the shifting power dynamics in any relationship. Emerging from RoofTop Creations and the mind of young novelist Jules Lewis, these characters are painfully familiar as they swerve from neurotic to outrageous in this microcosm of sexual politics.

The Washing Machine
From Red Betty Theatre comes this collision of contemporary Western ideas and old Eastern ideals: Isabelle returns to her childhood plantation in India with a plan to supply it with modern appliances and life’s little luxuries. Instead, the prodding of native gurus and spiritual forces cause her to confront her ancestry. This multicultural production is helmed by Sasha Kovacs and penned by Radha Menon.

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