The Weekender: War Horse, Harbourkids SK8 and six other items on our to-do list
1. I, ROBOT… YOU, ROBOT… WE, ROBOT
This kid-friendly Science Centre exhibit is more prosaic than its literary—or Hollywood—namesake, but it’s still seriously cool. It explores how we use robots today (building things, cleaning other things, exploring places we can’t go), how we might use them in the future (medical and military applications are pretty much guaranteed) and whether they could ever replace people. To February 26. $20. Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd., 416-696-1000, ontariosciencecentre.ca.
2. WAR HORSE
Kleenex alert: this much-lauded play, based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel, is more than just a glimpse of history from an unusual perspective or a credit to the artists at South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company. Some light weeping is almost guaranteed. Consider the storyline: It’s World War I and when the British cavalry comes calling, Albert, a young boy living in Devon, has to give his horse, Joey, up for the cause. After Joey’s rider is killed in action, he ends up serving on both sides of the war and bearing witness to some serious suffering. Oh, and meanwhile, Albert—who’s too young to enlist—sets off on a dangerous adventure to find his horse and bring him home (aw, bless). To June 30. $35–$175. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 416-872-1212, mirvish.com.
3. HARBOURKIDS: SK8 (FREE!)
The timing of this annual fest is kind of perfect. Usually held in December, the Harbourfront Centre shifted the schedule to this weekend—maybe they knew winter wouldn’t hit until right about now? Either way, this very seasonally-appropriate fest is perfect for the skate fan in your life. Regardless of what exact type of skating your youngsters like, there’s something here for them. The skateboard-making workshop, several short performances by Quebec’s boundary-pushing skaters Le Patin Libre and movie screenings of our childhood faves, including The Princess Bride and The NeverEnding Story are all on our radar. February 19 20. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.
4. SIMPLE PLAN
Canadian rock band Simple Plan’s signature poppy, vaguely punky sound always makes for a fun show. Case in point, their recent collaboration with pop songstress Natasha Bedingfield, Jet Lag—It’s a song about being far from the one you love, but it’s bouncy and dangerously catchy. Supporting acts Marianas Trench, All Time Low and These Kids Wear Crowns further encourage the fun factor for a younger crowd. February 19. $30.50–$92. Air Canada Centre, 40 Bay St., 1-855-985-5000, ticketmaster.ca.
5. LES COQUETTES SPEAKEASY
Part cabaret, part tasty prix fixe dinner, this steamy take on dinner theatre has three performances a month for the rest of the year (excluding August). Expect yummy eats from Executive Chef Christopher Woods and nearly-nude antics from the lovely ladies—and a few strapping young lads—of Les Coquettes. February 20. $20–$85. Revival, 783 College St., 1-877-821-7803, lescoquettes.com.
6. ESI EDUGYAN (FREE!)
Esi Edugyan’s Giller Prize-winning second novel, Half-Blood Blues, tackles history, race, war and art, but the hook is that its a mystery. Hieronymus Falk is German, black and a promising young trumpeter, but he’s arrested in Nazi-occupied Paris at the outset of the Second World War and is never seen again. Years later, Sidney, Falk’s former bandmate, is invited to the premiere of a documentary about his old friend in Berlin and becomes inspired to find out what happened to Falk all those years ago. Catch the Calgary-born, Victoria-based author in conversation with The Globe and Mail’s Sandra Martin and get your copy signed after. February 17. Indigo, Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor St. W., 416-925-3536, chapters.indigo.ca.
7. ABOUT AN HOUR
Stories unfolding in real-time sometimes don’t live up to the hype, but we think this improv comedy series won’t be one of them. Every Friday this month, various representatives of Toronto’s comedy talent join forces to wrack up the laughs within a fairly simple constraint: they only have about an hour. This week, it’s Jan Caruana, Rob Baker and Kerry Griffin. To February 24. $5. Comedy Bar, 945 Bloor St. W., 416-551-6540, comedybar.ca.
8. ALL BALLS DON’T BOUNCE PRESENTS: SPORTS WEEKEND (FREE!)
Aside from the vaguely scandalous sounding name, we like just about everything to do with this miniature film fest. Organized by “sports and entertainment media content collective” All Balls Don’t Bounce, the lineup is all about black athletes on film, whether it’s Philly boxing legend—and Muhammad Ali rival—Joe Frazier, black surfers (this one has the added bonus of narration by Ben Harper and the Roots’ Black Thought (a.k.a. Tariq Trotter), the West Indian cricket team or Harry Jerome, owner of the most track and field records in Canadian history. February 17 & 18. NFB Mediatheque, 150 John St., http://allballsdontbouncepresents.com.