The Moustrap at the Ottawa Little Theatre Misses the Mark

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Photo: Maria Vartanova

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie is one of the longest running plays. It is based on a short story (published only in the short stories collection “Three Blind Mice”), which was inspired by the real-life case of the death of a boy, Dennis O’Neill who died in 1945, while in the foster care of a Shropshire farmer and his wife.

Like all Christie’s work, The Mousetrap has her signature all over it: unexpected twist and turns, a surprising choice of murderer and a full pallet of very realistic characters. The play is a typical ‘who done it’ mystery. It is set in the early 1950s, in the isolated Monkswell Manor run by the young, recently married couple Giles and Molly Ralston. The play takes place on a winter day with heavy snowfall, so that the isolation of the house is highlighted. At the time of the murder in the manor, all five guests have already arrived and settled quite comfortably, as well as a detective who came to investigate a murder committed the previous night in London. When one of the guests is killed, the detective starts interrogating the rest of the people. Anyone can be the guilty party and it is obvious that everybody is trying to hide something from the past.

There is a reoccurring sentence in Agatha Christie’s stories – the leitmotif which helps explain her work. As her popular character, Miss Marple often says, there is a lot of human nature in everyone. So really, although she is a mystery writer – her writing revolves around people; it is mostly character studies. In adaptation of her work to a different media (including theatre), there are two important things to remember: stick to the original time and place, and be sure to develop the characters well. (more…)

ONCE at the NAC. A charming love story that would work better in a more intimate setting.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo Joan Marcus.

The opening of a mirrored live bar on stage as a means of bringing down the theatrical fourth wall is a gimmick with limited appeal. Once is certainly enough and has even less appeal during the intermission.

Like the large venue, the crowded pub look hurts rather than helps the intimate tone of what should be a chamber musical.

Having said this, Once still has considerable charm as a love story — or, more accurately, a story about love and commitment. It is harder to convey the ambience in this type of stage setting than it is through the flexibility of film, but there are quiet moments or more gentle songs when the intimate nature of the storyline is front and centre as the two principals Guy (played on opening night by Ryan Link) and Girl (Dani de Waal) try not to talk about falling in love and to remain focused on making music and being true to their responsibilities.

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Capital Critics Circle Announces Theatre Award Nominees 2013-2014.

News from Capital Critics Circle

bed740_173376392850662_1310813543_n La troupe de Molière

The Capital Critics Circle are proud to announce the nominees for the fifteenth annual English-language theatre awards for plays presented in the National Capital Region during the 2013-2014 season.

Best professional production

Ethan Claymore by Norm Foster, directed by John P. Kelly, Same Day Theatre.

Enron by Lucy Prebble, directed by Ron Jenkins, National Arts Centre English Theatre.

Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet, directed by Geoff Gruson, the Avalon Studio.

Proud by Michael Healey, directed by Miles Potter, Great Canadian Theatre Company.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, adapted by Nigel Forde, directed by Jonathan Harris, 9th Hour Theatre.

She Loves Me book by Joe Masteroff, music and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, directed by Ashlie Corcoran, Thousand Islands Playhouse.

The Ugly One by Marius von Mayenburg, translated by Maja Zade, directed by Ashlie Corcoran, Thousand Islands Playhouse, in association with Theatre Smash and Tarragon Theatre.

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Fresh Meat Festival Offers Variety to Ottawa Theater Scene

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

Megan Carty in Me and My Monster

Megan Carty in Me and My Monster

Fresh Meat 3, an annual showcase of 20-minute, original theatrical performances by local artists, is definitely an important contribution to the theatre scene in Ottawa. Here, ideas meet the stage and, sometimes, it gives rise to young, emerging artists. Will this year’s showcase discover a “true gem,” is yet to be seen.

As far as the first three shows go it seems that there is a potential, but there is still a lot more work to be done.

The first stop is My Cardboard Life, written and performed by Jonah Allingham with directorial contribution by Katie Swift.

This is a story about Jasper who works in a cardboard factory. After realizing that his private life is no more than a series of repetitive actions (sleep, eat, work), he accuses the cardboard in his factory and tries to destroy it. Finally, he finds out that the cardboard is indestructible, and that, if he wants to change his life, he must leave it (or escape from the routine). While the idea is worth exploring, the execution is not there. There is a lot missing, starting with the energy. Jonah seems to be a good writer, but his acting should be on quite a different level. The only convincing moment in his performance was when he asked the audience to help. Then, his desperation looked more genuine and his voice and facial expression approached the feeling of helplessness that he tried to portray. (more…)

Anita Majumdar’s Double Bill a the GCTC: One good, one not-so-good.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

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For the Ottawa Citizen.

Photo, Andrew Alexander. Featuring  Anita Majumdar.

Life by its nature is a fraught affair. Try living it as a female Indo-Canadian teenager at predominantly white Port Moody Senior Secondary in British Columbia.

That’s the setting for Anita Majumdar’s Fish Eyes and Boys with Cars, the simultaneously wonderful and disappointing double bill at the Great Canadian Theatre Company.

Majumdar wrote, choreographed and performs both shows. She blends exquisite Indian dance and acting that’s riveting in Fish Eyes but less so in Boys with Cars with issues ranging from teenaged (and, by extension, human) angst to patriarchy and cultural appropriation.

Fish Eyes, which Majumdar has been performing for a decade, finds 17-year old Meena despairing that “everyone’s living the dream” – as in making out and drinking beer – while she’s preparing to participate in an Indian dance festival.

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Next to Normal; a musical voyage into the depths of a tortured soul!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo of the Cast, from the Royal Ottawa Hospital site.

Diana, a mother suffering from depression and PTSD, is portrayed by singer/actress Skye MacDiarmid who immersed herself in this difficult role with passion, and total conviction, revealing her strong voice and enormous acting skills from the very first moments. This immediate burst of talent creates a break between the sadness of the content and the uplifting form of the performance and it gives us strength to continue watching, after all the subject matter is not easy. Fifteen years after the death of her 8 month old son, Diana remains traumatized by the event and never seems to have recovered. On the contrary, theC. Lee Bates staging and the music, directed by Paul Legault,  fore ground the hallucinatory presence of this “dead” son floating around the stage singing “I’m alive” , taunting the still grieving mother who cannot get the image of this young man out of her head as he clings to her memories and won’t permit her to let go of this past that is tearing her apart. That is the narrative essence of this Tony Award winning performance Next to Normal, now playing at the Gladstone until Saturday the 18th.

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Villes: Collection particulière. A production of the Théâtre de la Pire Espèce : visual genius on the stage of Lasalle secondary public school.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo, Pire Espece, Olivier Ducas..le magicien!

La Nouvelle scène is  still a hole in the ground but it is on the way to being built, said Anne Marie White , playwright, director and artistic director of the Théâtre Trillium as she introduced le Théâtre de la Pire Espèce….For the moment , all the Franco-ontarian theatres are performing at the LaSalle School on Saint Patrick street.

This time, Trillium has us sitting with the artists/technicians on the stage, as Wajdi Mouawad loves to have us do..and we were close to the inventions and magic moments, the machines, the sound equipment, the props and everthing that Olivier  Ducas  brought to life during this highly original spectacle..

A most original production that creates a whole universe of imaginary spaces and forms, linked to the conscience of Olivier Ducas who has reimagined the world, and set it up using contemporary forms and images taken from film, from computer images, from graphic design, from web cams, from spy cameras, from animated film techniques; a great mass of textures, colours, styles that meet and melt and explode…as the narrator who wields the camera tells us the story of his collection of towns, their different temperments, their forms, the way their elements are integrated..it is theatre with no characters, no narrative, no psychological types, no action, no elements that come from novels…but this is PURE cinema—and abstraction as seen by Kandinsky_ pure form, pure colour, ..space, texture, sound, light the essence of modern art..quite a magnificent creation ..and we are the "flâneur " in his little collection of cities.  Baudrillard is in the wings, so is Baudelaire , watching, wondering, taking it easy, enjoying the surfaces, the graffiti, the sounds , the new urban space devoid of living creatures..DONT miss this…Le théâtre de la pire espèce is a marvellous bundle of youthful creative energy from Montréal,  that we hope to see again in Ottawa.

Anglophones and Francophones…will enjoy this…

l’École des femmes : Un joyeuse adaptation hybride, portée par le metteur en scene et le jeu magistral d’Andy Massingham.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Version posted on the site  theatredublog.unblog.fr

Photo. David Whitely.

Cette traduction/adaptation de L’École des femmes par David Whitely, est une tentative de rendre la langue de Molière accessible à un  public anglophone qui connaît mal le théâtre français du dix-septième siècle. Au départ on ressent la présence d’un étrange anachronisme entre une mise en scène (John P. Kelly)  presque « classique » et le rythme naturel des répliques anglaises de style populaire au XXIe siècle écrites en alexandrins! En effet le XVIIe (en France) et le XXIe siècle (au Canada) ont réalisé une fusion qui finit par fonctionner assez bien, même si, pour certains  puristes, cette rencontre linguistique pourrait paraître indigeste. Malgré tout, l’événement, et le texte semblent avoir respecté la sensibilité de Molière. Cette langue contemporaine peu raffinée, semble  faire écho au côté frondeur de l’École… qui a  refusé les règles d’Horace et choqué certaines oreilles sensibles de la cour et des Précieux  « ridicules » (voir La Critique de l’École des femmes).

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The Boy in the Moon. A whispered confession transformed into a play is a difficult challenge for the GCTC

Reviewed by Kat Fournier

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Photo. Andrew Alexander

The world premiere of The Boy in the Moon is playing now at the GCTC theatre. Directed by Eric Coates, this is the stage adaptation of Canadian journalist Ian Brown’s well-known memoir, The Boy in the Moon. Playwright Emil Sher has adapted the memoir, which chronicles Brown’s experience raising a son, Walker, who was born with a rare, genetic condition that renders him mentally delayed, non-verbal, and physically handicapped. It is first and foremost a touching story, and Sher’s theatrical adaptation picks up on bold questions about the value of their son’s life, and the ever-present questions the Browns have about the nature of Walker’s inner-world.  The question of Walker’s “inner-world” is a thread that Sher weaves throughout the script. The story is told by the characters of Ian and Johanna on stage, played by Peter James Haworth and Manon St. Jules, respectively. Sher uses Brown’s book as a point of departure, and bolsters the script through interviews conducted with Ian and Johanna.

 

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The Boy in the Moon: A world premier that falters under the staging and the script.

Reviewed by Connie Meng

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The Boy in the Moon,” adapted by Emil Sher from the memoir of the same title by Ian Brown, chronicles a father’s search for the inner life of his severely disabled son, Walker. The book is quite introspective which presents a problem for the playwright. There’s very little interaction between the three actors and the script often feels like a disconnected series of musings and narratives.

Another problem is the casting. Peter James Haworth who plays Ian Brown and Manon St-Jules as Walker’s mother seem out of balance in both age and size. There’s no chemistry between them and we never get a sense of their relationship, only their relationships to Walker. Not only are they not connected to each other, they seem disconnected from their characters, especially Mr. Haworth. Miss St-Jules shows us more levels of her character, but the most realistic and connected moments are provided by Marion Day as Walker’s older sister Hayley, one of her multiple roles.

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