Reviewed by Jamie Portman
Photo Wendy Wagner
Actor Dale MacEachern deserves a big bouquet for his contribution to Kanata Theatre’s new production of A Flea In Her Ear.
But, no, better make that two bouquets. MacEachern takes on dual roles in the Georges Feydeau farce, and excels in both. We first see him as the somewhat stolid but emotionally distraught Victor Chandebise, an affluent Parisian whose declining libido at home has led wife Raymonde to question his faithfulness. MacEachern etches out this characterization with shrewd psychological observation and comic efficiency, and then shows equal ease in creating the buffoonish Poche, drunken porter at the notorious Frisky Puss Hotel, a shambling oaf who happens to look exactly like Victor.
May 21, 2013 Tuesday at 2:11 pm
Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
Photo Andrew Alexander
From left to right: Michelle LeBlanc, Sarah Finn, David Frisch, Robin Toller, Sascha Cole, Dilys Ayafor. In the foreground, David Whitely as Dr. Givings
Sarah Ruhl’s naughty little contemporary comedy takes place in the early 1890s. It is centred on that highly controversial illness called “hysteria” which eventually became a way of defining sexual dysfunction specifically related to women in the sexually repressed Victorian era. The creation of a new-fangled apparatus called the Vibrator , thanks to the discovery of electricity, was thought to offer the most effective cure by massaging those sensitive female parts to the point of causing the “paroxysm” which was supposed to release all the pent -up fluids that were causing the inner strangling of the body. A bit later. Freud’s research linked hysteria to the subconscious and the way the body somatised the symptoms related to repression, such things as headaches, dizziness, paralysis and all sorts of illnesses , according to the doctors, that could be relieved by using the vibrator.
May 21, 2013 Tuesday at 1:59 pm
La nuit juste avant les forêts: Brigitte Haentjens returns with a powerful performance of Bernard-Marie Koltès
Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
Photo: Angelo Barsetti
French playwright Bernard-Marie Koltès died at the age of 41, but not before leaving a body of dramatic work that cut deeply into contemporary theatre. Although La Nuit juste avant les forêts is his first play, (1977), it seems even more relevant to us today than it might have when it was created over 30 years ago.
May 19, 2013 Sunday at 7:04 pm
Reviewed by Patrick Langston
A Lunkamud (Toronto) production
Photo. National Arts Centre
OTTAWA — If you passed 15-year-old Peggy Ann Douglas on the street, you likely wouldn’t even notice her. Wearing jeans and a nondescript shirt, she’d look like any other teenager: slump-shouldered, a bit confused, wholly focused on her own struggle to figure out who she is and where she fits in the world.
But let Melody A. Johnson inhabit that young woman, and you can’t take your eyes off Peggy Ann as she travels her funny, bumpy and occasionally poignant journey from hemmed-in farm girl to singing, baton-twirling beauty contest contender who’s convinced that becoming Miss Caledonia will springboard her to her true destination: Hollywood stardom. After all, she reasons, if it happened to Singin’ in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds, why not to Peggy Ann Douglas?
May 19, 2013 Sunday at 1:35 pm
Reviewed by Connie Meng
Photo. NAC English Theatre
The NAC English Theatre is closing out its season with a production in the Studio of MISS CALEDONIA, written and performed by Melody A. Johnson. Directed by Rich Roberts and Aaron Willis with musical direction and subtle violin accompaniment by Alison Porter, MISS CALEDONIA is based on the true story of Miss Johnson’s mother, Peggy Douglas. Set in the mid-50s, it chronicles Peggy’s effort to escape the drudgery of life on the farm by becoming a movie star. The first step on the journey is her attempt to win the local beauty pageant.
May 19, 2013 Sunday at 10:04 am
Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska
Photo. Barbara Gray
It is sometime in the middle of the 1950s on a remote farm in Ontario where teenager Peggy Ann Douglas lives and daydreams about a shiny future as a movie star. Inspired by Hollywood success story Debbie Reynolds, she envisions herself in the role of a big, new discovery that is coached by Bing Cosby himself. So, dreaming about the fabulous world of fame while labouring through farm chores and domestic goings on, she decides that the road leading to her goal runs through local beauty pageants. To win, she decides to attend classes teaching beauty, charm and poise in a local charm school, but not before she gets around a stumbling block in form of her feet-firm-on-the-ground farmer father first. Fortunately for her, she finds all necessary support in her mother.
May 18, 2013 Saturday at 8:24 pm
Reviewed by Iris Winston
Photo, Barbara Gray
Melody A. Johnson
Winning a beauty contest is a way to escape farm living and extreme poverty. At least, 15-year-old Peggy Ann Douglas hopes this will be her path to a new life, which at the very least will include indoor plumbing. (It was the route to stardom for movie actress Debbie Reynolds, so why not for a teenager from rural Ontario?)
Based on her mother’s history, Melody A. Johnson tells the story of how a gawky teenager in the 1950s transformed herself into a confident baton-twirling/singing beauty queen.
Johnson is a fine storyteller and comedienne, delivering clear and often amusing sketches of Peggy’s parents, assorted neighbours and acquaintances.
May 18, 2013 Saturday at 8:21 pm
News from Capital Critics Circle
Save the dates! From May 28-June 2, 2013, the Ottawa International Children’s Festival returns with another awe-inspiring season of performing arts for young people at Lebreton Flats Park and the Canadian War Museum. For more than 27 years the Festival has hosted a five-day …
May 18, 2013 Saturday at 8:08 pm
Reviewed by Iris Winston
Georges Feydeau’s 1907 farce, La Puce à l’oreille — A Flea in her Ear — has frequently been cited as one of the best examples of the genre and the model for many later comedies, incorporating sexual innuendo, mistaken identity, frantic ction, doors and more doors.
The style requires precise timing, fast movements and character changes and must never slow down enough to allow an audience to consider how ridiculous the plot is.
For the most part, under the meticulous direction of Jim Holmes, the fast-paced Kanata Theatre production meets the criteria in its whirlwind presentation of A Flea in Her Ear.
Only the necessary but lengthy and laboured set change in Act II brings the action to a grinding halt for too long. (Lighter set pieces that do not require an army of stagehands might have helped here.) The other visual distraction in generally effective sets is the odd colouring of the double doors in the centre of the stage, which gives the impression that designers ran out of paint. (more…)
May 18, 2013 Saturday at 5:00 pm
Reviewed by Patrick Langston
Photo, Andrew Alexander
Sascha Cole (Mrs Givings) and Robin Toller (Leo Irving)
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Be a good girl,” Mr. Daldry tells his wife Sabrina as he leaves her to the ministrations of one Dr. Givings near the opening of Sarah Ruhl’s comedy In the Next Room, or the vibrator play. Sabrina (Sarah Finn) is suffering from “hysteria,” a kind of catch-all for general nervousness and other complaints from which women, particularly, it seems, in the late 19th century when this play takes place, suffered.Turns out that Sabrina actually suffers from an absence of sexual satisfaction because self-absorbed, chauvinistic husbands like hers (played here by David Frisch) don’t know how to deliver the goods.What they do know how to deliver are infantilizing orders about being a good girl.Fortunately, Dr. Givings (David Whiteley) has a new toy, a primitive vibrator that in this show looks like the love child of a hair dryer and batter mixer, and soon cures Sabrina. By bringing on a healthy “paroxysm,” he explains in cool, scientific language, he relieves womanly woes (the characters in the play are fictional, but the first vibrators, albeit invented to treat muscular disorders, did appear in the late 19th century as we learned in Hysteria, the 2011 comedy film on the subject)…………
May 17, 2013 Friday at 9:39 am