January, 2011

Strawberries in January: an appropriate translation does not guarantee a production that captures the essence of the play

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Evelyne de la Chenelière, born in 1975, is something of a prodigy. She has written nearly fifteen plays all of which have been produced,  and in 2006, she won a Governor General’s Award for her play Désordre public (2006).   In 2007, the French theatre of the National Arts Centre brought in a production of her very moving monologue Bashir Lazhar (which is apparently being made into a film at this moment) about an Algerian immigrant who comes to Canada, finds a job as a teacher and tries to explain to his students, – i.e. the audience – the problems of an outsider such as himself trying to integrate into this country.

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Undercurrents 2011. One Act Play Festival in Ottawa

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

 


My Pregnant Brother

written and performed by Johanna Nutter

Director and dramaturg: Jeremy Taylor

A Freestanding Productions production from Montreal.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Also listen to www.cbc.ca/ottawamorning/columnists/theatre

Johanna Nutter tells us all about her brother who is in the midst of a real gender transformation. He used to be a girl but he is psychologically, emotionally and in all ways a man, thus the explanation between sex and gender is well drawn in this story. In any case, somewhere in the midst of this process of change, he becomes pregnant.

The situation is unusual to say the least but Johanna draws us gently into the intimacy of her personal world and tells us all about it in the most frank and unassuming way as she sketches out the geography of her space on the floor and walls of the theatre. There is something pedagogical about this…

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Psy: A production of Les 7 doigts de la main in Boston

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

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Photo: Davis Poulin

Psy, a creation of Montreal’s les 7 doigts de la main (the 7 fingers of the hand), is a performance unlike any I have ever seen, despite my fondness for the modern circus. The young multi-talented hyper energetic company combines athleticism, dance, and acting to create a storyline that explores psychological disorders through the trained circus body.  Each of the performers develops a character with a particular syndrome: They include manic-depression, multiple personality disorder, hypochondria, amnesia, and paranoia. The show avoids grimness through humor, although an underlying menace is ever-present.

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Lost in Yonkers: Both Serious and Funny, is an Overall Enjoyable Experience

Reviewed by Maja Stefanovska

Based loosely on his childhood experiences, Neil Simon’s play Lost in Yonkers is a story of family dysfunction and the ever-enduring need for love. Simon’s play is simply constructed and beautifully written. At times serious and at times funny, The Ottawa Little Theatre Production, directed by Chantale Plante, strikes a good balance between the two genres and is an overall enjoyable experience.

Set in the early 1940s, the play opens with the teenagers Jay and Arty nervously sitting in their grandmother’s stuffy Yonkers apartment while their father talks to her. To their horror, when he emerges, they are informed that they are to stay with their cold, stern and seemingly heartless grandmother for eight months. However, making their time slightly more bearable are their kooky aunt Bella, crook uncle Louie and strange aunt Gert.

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Agokwe : the staging makes the show!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Agokwe is written and performed by Waawaaté Fobister who very clearly benefitted from the superlative Buddies in Bad Times production values because the staging is what really makes this show. 

Visually it is very strong. Behind this performance lies an  excellent  team composed of Andy Moro’s  striking  graphics and  projected designs, Erika Iserhoff’s beautiful costumes – especially the raven who stole the show-  Lyon Smith’s otherworld sound design and Kimberly Purtell’s magic lighting. Last but certainly not least is the contribution of director and dramaturg Ed Roy who worked on the text and orchestrated the gestures, the movements and the way that Fobister’s story telling unfolds on stage.

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The Understudy , Boston premiere of the play by Theresa Rebeck.

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

The New Year ushered in the Boston premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s The Understudy at the Lyric Stage. A presence in the city for more than thirty years, the Lyric Stage has been under the leadership of artistic director Spiro Veloudos since 1997.  A 240 seat space with a thrust stage, the Lyric is located on the second floor of a YMCA in Boston’s Back Bay

The Lyric makes it a point to cast local professional actors, keep ticket prices moderate (which can mean low production values), and draw its repertory mainly from contemporary American drama and musicals, with the occasional bow to British works such as its memorable production of Caryl Churchill’s A Number.

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