A waterfront sugar shack, The Sleeping Beauty and six other things to see, do, hear and read this week
A sweet waterfront fest
1This weekend, Sugar Beach transforms into Sugar Shack TO, a wintry marketplace featuring a pop-up cabane à sucre. Visitors can try maple taffy and traditional sugar shack treats, sip mulled cider, listen to live music and watch an ice-carving showdown between two chainsaw-wielding sculptors. Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11. Free. Sugar Beach.
An unflinching novel about campus rape
2Few authors are more qualified to write about university life than Sarah Henstra, a Ryerson English prof by day and novelist by night. In The Red Word, she provocatively tackles rape on campus through the story of Karen, a hard-partying, frat boy–dating sophomore who inadvertently falls in with a group of radical feminists. When they hatch a scheme to expose her boyfriend’s fraternity as a den of corrosive misogyny, Karen gets caught in the drama. Henstra cleverly navigates thorny issues like sexual assault, militant ideology, and the polarization between belligerent college kids and ultra-progressive campus activists. Tuesday, March 6. ECW Press.
A beloved ballet classic
3In 1972, The Sleeping Beauty helped put the National Ballet of Canada on the international ballet map. It’s been a fan favourite ever since, a treasured work that’s both graceful and technically demanding. This month, the National Ballet revisits artistic director Karen Kain’s 2006 staging, which brings the classic story and Tchaikovsky’s score to life with stunning costume and set design. Thursday, March 8 to Sunday, March 18. $39–$265. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
A little something for bite-size cinephiles
4TIFF’s little-cousin festival introduces kids to the power of cinema for a 20th year, with a lineup of premieres including The Incredible Story of the Giant Pear, a charming animated adventure about a Danish town’s missing mayor; and Double Trouble, which follows two kids on a mysterious treasure hunt in Poland. Tykes can also look forward to filmmaking workshops and the return of DigiPlaySpace, a high-tech playground featuring robots and coding games. Friday, March 9 to Sunday, March 18. TIFF Bell Lightbox.
An arresting serial killer saga
5Toronto writer Naben Ruthnum riffed on food and race in his 2017 book, Curry. He switches gears (and pen names) in Find You in the Dark, a comic thriller about a vigilante who gets his hands on confidential police files and uses them to unearth the missing victims of serial killers in Seattle. When he sends photos of the bodies to the cops, he’s met with suspicion rather than gratitude. A hotshot young detective is on his trail—and so is a serial killer who’s vexed by his efforts. Tuesday, March 6. Simon and Schuster.
A sadly timely satire
6George Orwell wrote Animal Farm, his famous 1940s barnyard fable, to satirize the Soviet Union and its descent from a socialist utopia into a totalitarian dictatorship. After 70 years—and the collapse of the Soviet regime—it still has its insight and sting, largely because the story could have just as easily been ripped from today’s headlines. Soulpepper revisits it in a new production helmed by Ravi Jain, who gave the company a hilarious hit in 2015 with another vintage satire, Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Friday, March 9 to Saturday, April 7. From $35. Young Centre for the Performing Arts.
A concert in the splash zone
7The Chinese composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) reinvents Bach’s liturgical masterpiece St. Matthew Passion in this imaginative Soundstreams performance. The show employs a chamber ensemble, a choir, a pair of soloists and, intriguingly, 17 theatrically lit water bowls, used as percussion throughout the piece. Friday, March 9. $25–$67.50. Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.
A comical cat-and-mouse thriller
8Andrew Battershill caught our attention with Pillow, his uproarious Giller- nominated debut novel about a boxer turned criminal. He returns with Marry, Bang, Kill, another witty crime thriller in the vein of Elmore Leonard and Patrick deWitt. It follows Tommy, an affable thief who unwittingly swipes a laptop from a high-ranking member of a brutal motorcycle gang. Trouble is, the computer contains evidence of the gang’s murderous misdeeds—and clues leading to a hidden stash of money. With a price on his head, Tommy decides to find the loot before the gang finds him. Tuesday, March 6. Goose Lane Editions.