February, 2011

The Snow Queen: Patrick Cardy’s Musical Tale Shows The Expressive and Playful Qualities of Music.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

 

On stage in the theatre of the Museum of Civilisation this weekend, the whole family can enjoy a special musical and theatrical treat. Actor Alon Nashman (the hit of the 2008  Ottawa Fringe Festival with his monologue Kafka and Son,)  is  on stage with the  award winning Cecilia String quartet  performing composer Patrick Cardy’s musical tale based on Hans Christian Anderson’s version of The Snow Queen.  I have just seen the final dress rehearsal in the theatre, where the acoustics are excellent by the way,  and the effect of the event is quite overwhelming.

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Earnest goes to Bollywood at Plosive Theatre.

Reviewed by Laurie Fyffe

Plosive Theatre certainly knows how to get your attention. Ottawa’s newest theatre company has taken to the Gladstone’s stage with a curiously layered rendering of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest set in British colonial India. This may require pausing a moment to review director David Whiteley’s extensive glossary of terms, time better spent enjoying the view of Andrea Robertson’s set, as lit by John Solman, with its collage of dusty colours, hinting that the streets of Calcutta lie somewhere beyond. Pretty as the set is, however, it doesn’t give the actors much room to move about, and the empty space between stage platform and curtain creates a physical and metaphysical gap that not all the performers are adept at negotiating. {Is this a play within a play? Are the bored colonials staging a performance?} The result is that Wilde’s comedy of manners feels a bit cramped, with both Garret Quirk’s Algernon and Stewart Matthews’ Jack forced to elbow it out on a small bench for almost the whole of Act One. They really do seem to be talking to themselves.

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Jenny’s House of Joy: A western rather than a comedy? rather a comedy with serious undertones

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Playwright Norm Foster describes his Jenny’s House of Joy as a western rather than a comedy. To be sure, this sit-com with a difference still has plenty of comic, sometimes raw, one-liners — as expected in a Foster script. But this tale of five women in a bordello in the 1870s Wild West has a serious undertone as it focuses on the humanity of the occupants rather than on the goods they sell nightly.

Jenny’s House of Joy is apparently not always a joyous place for the staff. Even so, Foster presents the life of the ladies of the night through rose-coloured glasses most of the time. The message is that it is impossible to leave the life, but who would want to anyway, when this is where your true friends are?

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Terminus : The Abbey Theatre at ArtsEmerson (Boston)

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

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L.to R. Catherine Walker, Declan Conlon, Olwen Fouéré in Terminus

The Abbey Theatre’s production of Mark O’Rowe’s extraordinary Terminus is the final work of ArtsEmerson’s mini-Irish festival. (The other two were Kathrine Bates’ The Color of Rose and Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan.) Terminus is formally constructed: three characters – two women and a man – speaking monologues in verse, much of it rhyming. It observes the unities of time, place, and action: the tale they tell transpired over a single night, they remain in one place throughout, and the action is simply to recount.

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Strawberries in January: imagined screenplays provides the impetus for this cute little sit-com

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Whether you think of Strawberries in January — if you think of it at all after viewing this slight piece of theatre — as fantasy, sit-com or glorification of falsehood, it is unlikely to have a lasting impact.

Four people looking for love eventually pair up in an entirely predictable fashion, after a little entanglement with might-have-beens and imagined screenplays.

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The Importance of Being Ernest Suffers From a Badly Conceived Staging.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

The new theatre Plosive productions has created a monster!  They have taken a talented cast, a most witty classic of the Western English language stage, and turned the performance into a mish-mash of styles and staging errors that even makes the good actors look weak.  Despite moments that do work, one has the feeling that generally, something has gone terribly wrong.

Of course The storyline is beautifully crafted by the playwright.  Mr.  Worthy who becomes Earnest in the city and Jack in the country, is eventually upstaged by his rakish cousin Algernon who turns up under an assumed name, to get the girl, who happens to be Jack’s ward Cecily Cardew. It’s full of plot twists, witty lines and hidden meanings about suppressed identities which always appealed to Oscar Wilde’s sense of provocative humour, for obvious reasons.

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The English Language World Premier of Little Martyrs Creates Directorial Challenges Which Are Not Resolved.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

A graduate of the National Theatre School in Montreal  Dominique Parenteau-Lebeuf has had her work translated into  German, English, Bulgarian and Italian. She has also had her plays staged in festivals in Europe. The company La Baraka based in Paris, which also created  Le Collier d’Hélène by Carole Fréchette, even before it was mounted in Canada, also did the first production of Parenteau-Lebeuf’s play  Filles de Guerre lasses in 2005, the same year La Petite Scrap (original title of Little Martyrs) was published. This translation by Mishka Lavigne is the first English language version of  the play, and thus,  this  production by Evolution Theatre is  a world première.

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The Sins of the Mother: a robust and surprising plot by Israel Horovitz

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

The old television series Cheers may have celebrated places where everyone knows your name, but American playwright Israel Horovitz is less than convinced that familiarity breeds contentment. Just ask the characters in Horovitz’s Sins of the Mother which NORT is presenting in admirably muscular fashion.

The play centres on the economically eviscerated fishing village of Gloucester, Mass. where three men, who have known each other for longer than may be healthy, spend too much time together with devastating consequences.

Combative and frustrated by unemployment, the cynical Bobby (Jerome Bourgault), hair-trigger-tempered Frankie (Sean Tucker) and sensitive Dubbah (Adam Skanks) tangle as they wait one morning for the unemployment insurance office to open. With them is the fish-out-of-water Douggie (Ray Besharah), a native of Gloucester who has returned after several years of wandering the country. A dark secret involving Douggie’s late mother connects the four even more deeply than does sharing a common hometown.

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Sins of the Mother: a play a bit rough around the edges but the production leaves the audience with an excellent impression.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

American east coast rugged  realism  becomes, in the eyes of playwright  Israel Horovitz, a family tragedy  laced with raunchy bitter humour in a play  called  Sins of the Mother, which is just as much about the sins of the fathers, the sons, the mothers and all the neighbours. In spite of the almost biblical title, we appear to be much closer to the world of Greek and Latin tragedy, where patricide, matricide, fratricide, adultery lust, hate and cruelty hover over this small American fishing town.

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The Color of Rose: A world premiere by Kathrine Bates

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

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L.to R. Judith Roberts, Theresa Masse, Karen MacDonald. Photo:Paul Marrot

ArtsEmerson’s Irish festival of three plays opened on January 30 with the world premiere of The Color of Rose, by Kathrine Bates. While not an Irish work, it celebrates the life of Boston’s historically most prominent Irish-American woman, Rose Kennedy. Structurally reminiscent of Edward Albee’s 1994 Three Tall Women, the play portrays Rose at three different ages, as played by three different actresses. All remain on stage throughout, interacting with each other. As the elderly Rose prepares for a television interview, she reflects on her life, discussing and sometimes arguing about its facts and meaning with her younger selves.

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Past Reviews