November, 2011

Tremblay’s caracters weave their tail of booze and drunkenness: a Greek chorus materializes from the troubled mind of Marcel, persued by the Hounds.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Matt Smith and ManonMarcel Pursued by the Hounds Smith, Dumas, Lefebvre  Dumas in Marcel poursuivi par les chiens.

The Carleton Tavern is the  perfect venue for this  intense little drama by Michel Tremblay, which opened this weekend in Ottawa’s west end theatre district!  Marcel Pursued by the Hounds was first staged in French in  1992 and  this translation by John  Van Burek and Bill Glassco while not respecting the levels of popular vernacular that are so central to Tremblay,s plays, seems to give directors Lisa Zanyk and Donnie Laflamme, a lot of scope to play with language.  This play i  another one of  his works that completes the   geneology of all the characters who make up the extended  family of Albertine,  living on the Plateau in Montréal . 

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Aint Misbehaven: a tight –knit ensemble produces a real crowd pleaser.

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

The revue Ain’t Misbehavin’, an accolade to Fats Waller, was first produced in1978, thirty-five years after the multi-talented jazz composer, singer, and pianist’s death.  A hit then, his music written in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s still reverberates today.  Many of his songs have become standards, but even Waller’s less familiar tunes were enthusiastically applauded by the audience at the Lyric Stage.

Although not a biography, the character of Fats Waller is front and center.  David Tolwlun’s clever set, which suggests both a theatre and a night club, helps anchor the show and provides a sense of plot. Props consist of a few chairs and a table, which actor Calvin Braxton moves about at various times, solidifying the impression of Fats Waller as the owner of the night spot.

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I Remember Mama: For the sake of authenticity, the use of live and dead animals on stage by Phoenix Players was not appreciated.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

The memories that remain a lifetime are not always of world-shattering events. They can be of something as simple as having a chocolate soda with a special person or as unpleasant as an encounter with a bullying aunt.

In John Van Druten’s 1944 drama I Remember Mama, based on a fictionalized memoir by Kathryn Forbes, these are just two of the incidents that Katrin recalls. Seen through the mirror of childhood, Katrin Hanson, the eldest daughter, looks back over the years, picking out the moments that defined her mother’s strength and warmth.

The episodic nature of the story line suggests that I Remember Mama could have been more effective as a movie (1948) or a television show (1950s) than as a stage play in 2011.

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Une plongée dans l’abime médiatique par l’équipe de l’Ubu, compagnie de création au Cna.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

jackie

Ce petit chef-d’œuvre, qui dure une heure à peine, marie une réflexion  sur le féminisme et sur  l’esthétique symboliste qui domine le travail  de l’Ubu, compagnie de création depuis des années.  Le  portrait de Jackie Kennedy que nous propose l’auteure autrichienne Elfriede Jelinek, offre aux metteurs en scène l’occasion  de  reconstituer  cette belle et mystérieuse figure féminine de la scène politique américaine, tout en prolongeant des expériences avec des caméras,  voir des techniques spéciales , afin d’ évacuer le corps humain « naturel »  de la scène. Dans Les Aveugles de Maeterlinck, ou  les Trois derniers jours de Fernando Pessoa d’Antonio Tabucchi, Denis Marleau avait transformé les acteurs en visages filmés, et nous comprenons mieux alors le processus employé pour  mettre en scène ce portrait de  Jackie Kennedy.

 

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Moby Dick: An Irish stage production of Melville’s novel

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

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Photo of Conor lovett

The Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland brought Moby Dick to town for a week on November 7. This company is actually misnamed given that it is known for one-person shows played by the brilliant Conor Lovett. Lovett and his wife Judy Hegarty Lovett, the company’s director, specialize in Samuel Beckett’s works. Without a home-based theatre, they tour the world, playing cities large and small as well as universities.

The world of Moby Dick, while as grim, humorous, and grotesque as Beckett’s, was nevertheless a departure for the Lovetts. However, they succeeded in extracting the essence of Herman Melville’s epic Moby Dick for the theatre. They whittled the huge novel down to one hour and fifty minutes of continuous playing time. Conor Lovett shares the stage with composer and violinist Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh, although the two rarely interact. The music has much of the eerie quality of the story.

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Mabou Mines’ DollHouse: at the Cutler Majestic in Boston, MA

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

Janet Girardeau & Maude Mitchell

L.to R. Janet Girardeau, Maude Mitchell

After nine years on the road, Mabou Mines’ DollHouse, conceived and directed by Lee Breuer, arrived in Boston on November 1. The week’s run at the Cutler Majestic brought this marathon tour to an end. As a fan both of Ibsen and cutting edge theatre, I had been looking forward to the event with great anticipation.

For the most part this “concept” version of the play lived up to my expectations. Unlike other stylized Doll Houses, which look for relevance by contemporizing the play – such as German director Thomas Ostermeier’s 2002 production in which the Helmers live in a chic modernist apartment and Dr. Rank suffers from AIDS – the world of Breuer’s Nora is fixed in the late nineteenth century. From her blonde bouffant hairstyle to her blue bustled dress, Nora looks the picture of her time as she munches her macaroons, confides in Kristine Linde, and flirts with Dr. Rank.

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In The Eyes of Stone Dogs. A problematic staging of Daniel Danis translated into English.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

The adventurous and talented Christopher Bedford has chosen one of the most difficult playwrights currently in vogue in Quebec, to give a group of students from the Ottawa Theatre School, professional experience on stage.  The project is in itself a perilous exercise as we have already seen with Third Wall Theatre which fell soundly on its face when they used a  mixed cast of professionals and students in their version of Tartuffe several years ago, in spite of David Whitely’s excellent translation. Last year, Andy Massingham staged a magnificent version of Shakespeare,s Twelfth Night using students from the Ottawa Theatre School as well as seasoned professionals  but he had the good taste to give all the main roles to professionals. As a result,  that performance  worked beautifully.  Added to the cast was the very brilliant Greg Kramer as Malvolio who created a performance we will never forget.

Daniel Danis is another kettle of fish…so to speak.

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Capital critics circle awards for 2010-2011

News from Capital Critics Circle

OTTAWA, November 28, 2011 – The Capital Critics Circle today announced the winners of the twelfth annual theatre awards for plays presented in English in the National Capital Region during the 2010-2011 season. The winners are:

Best professional production:

The Third Wall Theatre production of Blackbird by David Harrower, directed by Mary Ellis.

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In the eyes of Stone Dogs. The unevenness of the actors hobbles the show.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

for The Citizen, Nov. 17, 2011 (We are only allowed to reproduce a portion of his review)

What to do about student actors?

Cast them alongside seasoned pros, and in many cases — the NAC English Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet with members of the National Theatre School last season, for example — you wind up with an unbalanced show because the skills of the two groups are at such variance.

Don’t cast students alongside seasoned performers, and you deprive young actors of the opportunity to learn from the pros and to make a mark among theatre-goers.

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And Slowly Beauty, a most original tribute to the artist and a performance that captures the depths of the artistic sensibility

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

beautéIMG_2929

This singular interweaving of  high art, in the form of Chekhov’s theatre,  with  the everyday life of a simple human being, is given a most exquisite  stage  treatment by director Michael Shamata in this coproduction by the Belfry Theatre and the English Theatre company of the National Arts Centre. Michel Nadeau’s  dreamlike experience, And Slowly Beauty,  translated by Maureen Labonté ,  takes us on a journey of flowing  transformation.  Mr. Mann – the Man -  (Denis Fitzgerald), a well-established employee of a downtown  company  leads the empty  life of a bureaucrat. The empty chatter of the office employees, the even emptier  chatter of his wife are compounded by his helplessness in front of his children whose lives don’t bring him any satisfaction. 

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