Friday, June 9, 2023

Critics’ Picks: 5 Must-See Performances this May

For loyal readers, our top picks for May won’t seem like a surprise. At Beyond James, we love unique performances, perspectives and experiences- and in May, the Hamilton area abounds with exactly this. Even more obvious may be that some of these performances have been featured already- or will be featured later this month- elsewhere on the site.

For more details on other events happening in and around Hamilton this month and great shows to check out, stay up to date with our full event calendar

Searching for Marceau

Another one person show, this time, an original production from Hamilton/Burlington’s Tottering Biped Theatre. The production that put them on the map, Searching for Marceau tells the partly autobiographical story of one man’s (played by TBT Artistic Director Trevor Copp) discovery of mime and how he uses this discovery to heal his relationship with his biological father. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of mime- Copp combines traditional theatrical elements (like dialogue) with mime and movement to create a truly one-of-a-kind production. The show won awards at the Toronto Fringe and embarked on a national tour, so expect tickets to the May 4, 5 and 7 show at the Royal Botanical Gardens to go quickly. 

Every Brilliant Thing

Stephanie Hope Lawlor (Venus In Fur, Mary’s Wedding) is the main character in this one woman show who explores her family’s history of mental illness (and later her own battles with depression) in Every Brilliant Thing. As the audience plays a key role in the telling of the story, expect Lawlor to combine improvised interactions with her script to create a unique theatrical experience. Humour against a backdrop of depression has been a recurring theme of the pandemic, so the May 5-7 performances at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts may be just the thing for theatre attendees who have been waiting for the perfect moment to return. 

My Son the Hurricane

Need an energy boost? Look no further than this multi-horn, multi-drummer, multi-singer brass funk band that is reminiscent of a modernized Lemon Bucket Orkestra. My Son the Hurricane is a travelling group that consistently features a minimum of ten players and brings high-energy, high-fun shows wherever they may be, making them the perfect choice for a night out. The success of the band’s 2019 album led to over fifty sold-out shows across Canada, US and Europe. Even better is that a lot of the members are from the Niagara-Toronto area, making their Hamilton performance a bit of a homecoming. They’re in Hamilton for one-night only on May 6 at 8pm, presented by Sonic Unyon at the Bridgeworks.

Vivek Shraya

However you know the work of Vivek Shraya, you know she is a brilliant artist. Among other accomplishments, Shraya released her first album while still a teenager, is a seven-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, has created internationally-acclaimed short films and premiered a theatrical work (How to Fail as a Popstar) which is currently being adapted as a digital series with CBC. On May 15 at 7:30pm, Shraya performs at Mill’s Hardware in support of her latest visual album, Baby, You’re Projecting, which comes out on May 12. The break-up album is being co-released with a twelve-minute film which takes inspiration from 90s classics. Opening for Shraya is Sound of Separation; the solo project of Hamilton’s Nim Agalawatte.

Enemy Lines

Choreographer and dancer Mayumi Lashbrook explores her family’s history and possibilities for the future in this contemporary, multi-disciplinary work. Through dance, projections, sound and video, Lashbrook aims to transport audiences to the actions taken against her family during World War Two when over 22,000 Canadians of Japanese descent were forcibly removed from the coastline of British Columbia. Aeris Korper Dance Theatre is known for their creative approach to creation and presentation, so their involvement as producer is a sign that this production will not only be impactful, but artistically interesting. The show has two separate runs- one in Toronto from May 12-14, and a Hamilton run at LR Wilson Hall from May 26-28. 

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