July, 2012

Little Shop of Horrors. Good production of a musical classic

Reviewed by Connie Meng

Little Shop Kaufmann Photography . The 1000 Islands Playhouse has a winner with their lively production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. Although I’ve seen the show a number of times, it was quite a while ago and I’d forgotten how clever and funny it is, especially Howard Ashman’s lyrics. Alan Menken’s tuneful soft-rock score fits beautifully with Mr. Ashman’s book and lyrics about a man-eating plant.

Robin Fisher’s adaptation of Jack Boschman’s original set has dilapidated brick walls of scrim that either become transparent or slide back to reveal Mushnik’s Skid Row florist shop. To the right and left are alleys with more brick building fronts and stoops. The changes to the shop in the Renovation number are fun, especially the floral print cash register cover.

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The Game of Love and Chance: Mix and Match or Mismatch?

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Time travel and genre fusion seem to be two of the sports in this Game of Love and Chance.

A mix of a 16th -century form of physical theatre of Italian origin with the work of an 18th-century French playwright, best known for his focus on language, adapted/rewritten to use current language and North American slang by performers in 19th-century costumes may or may not be successful, depending on the skill of the mixer (director/adaptor).

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Savannah Bay: Marguerite Duras at the American Repertory Theatre

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

Photo Savannah Bay Photographer Lionel Patrick Cerman

PHOTO.Lionel Patrick Kerman.

l.Bulle Ogier et Madeleine Renaud

R.Marie Christine Barrault, Guila Klara Kessous

Marguerite Duras’ Savannah Bay was performed at Cambridge’s Loeb Drama Center (home of the American Repertory Theatre) on February 21 in honor of the centennial of Jean-Louis Barrault’s birth. In the cast were the well-known French stage and screen actress Marie-Christine Barrault and her young disciple Guila Clara Kessous. Mme Barrault is the niece of actor-director Jean-Louis Barrault and his wife, actress Madeleine Renaud. During their lifetimes, Barrault and Renaud reached the pinnacle of theatrical success in France, forming their own company in 1946. As artistic director, and for many years leading actor, Barrault not only drew from a broad repertory of classics – French and otherwise – but introduced new and experimental works, many of which gained renown. The company’s tours brought the best of French culture to the wider world.

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Othello on the St lawrence. A final act that surpassed all expectations!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Photo:thumbs_20120708mshakespearefestival10qfs Quincy Armorer  (Othello) and Lana Sugarman (Desdemona). Set in the period of the war of 1812,  this brooding, production of the tragic events leading to the murder of Desdemona at the hands of her beloved general, manipulated most heinously by the hateful Iago brings out all the melodrama of the situation.  There is the  raging father (Brabantio) who can’t believe that his innocent daughter Desdemona (Lana Sugarman) has actually married this Moor of her own free will. A sneering, ironic Iago,  raging with jealousy and hate who narrates the story, telling how he has meticulously set the stage for the downfall of Othello (Quincy Armorer) and the death of the lovers.

The individual performances were rather good in as much as each actor dominated his role, articulated his text beautifully and made the drama so completely clear.   I especially liked Shane Carty as the viciously revengeful Iago who inspired utter loathing.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the Saint Lawrence: a production highly charged with youthful playfulness.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

midsummer20120709mshakespearefestival143qfs Tatiana (Alix Sideris), Bottom and the band of mischievous fairies. Photo: St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.

It all began at dusk. The leaves on the trees around the waterfront amphitheatre near the Prescott Marina started rustling in a strange way. Out popped a band of green creatures with shining eyes and plants growing out of their ears, with ragged clothing and a nervous stance. Flutes, drums and harps accompanied what resembled chanting, calling up the spirits of the forest who were hiding somewhere in John Doucet’s  chaotic setting of hanging vines and shredded greenery. Thus began director Catriona Leger’s version of  A Midsummer Night’s Dream presented at the St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, the first play of the Festival’s 1oth season, and a delightful  production that was definitely something to celebrate.

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This uncanny one-man show is as strikingly insightful production of Hirsch

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

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STRATFORD, Ont. – The Stratford Festival has boldly premiered three new works for its July round of openings _ but with mixed results.One, a potentially exciting musical about Klondike poet Robert W. Service, is a damp disappointment. Another reveals a fine Canadian playwright merely marking time.  The third offering, a one-man show called Hirsch, is a triumph.

Yet, how many theatergoers will even recognize the name of Canadian theatre icon John Hirsch? Well, even if they don`t they`ll quickly realize they`re in the presence of an arresting personality _ the sort of man who will demolish an enemy with the lofty declaration that “your intellect is nothing compared to my intellect .

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Black Coffee: In spite of a thickening plot drowned in superfluous banter, Hercule Poirot saves the play!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

black_coffee_web Agatha Christie has created two of the most colourful crime solving individuals in her career as a writer of mystery novels, short stories, plays and film scenarios:  Miss Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot. Both have risen to worldwide fame through films, published works and the British television series featuring each of these fictional characters.

The play is interesting in as much it already contains all the ingredients that will define Christie’s brand of detective mystery  theatre. A murder is discovered, the suspects all find themselves within a closed space (an elegant drawing room, a huge country house in Britain or a similar setting) as guests of the deceased; everyone becomes a suspect as soon as the detective arrives to unravel the mystery and find the guilty party.

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OLT’s Black Coffee: a decaffeinated production of Agatha Christie that requires a little brandy

Reviewed by Iris Winston

 poirotfeature-preview-300x167 Photo by Alan Dean: .  As mystery writer Agatha Christie’s first play, Black Coffee deserves recognition as a landmark in theatrical history. Further, it is the only play (and later movie) in which Christie featured the character of Hercule Poirot, although many screen adaptations of her mystery novels star the Belgian detective.

That said, the carefully plotted Black Coffee, first produced in 1930, is heavy-handed, repetitive and slow moving. In the Ottawa Little Theatre production, director Johni Keyworth exacerbates the problem by keeping the pace slow and insisting that some of the characters attempt to adopt English accents. Much of the time, the accents are gratingly unconvincing and the actors are so focused on trying to sound English that they give less than the required emphasis to characterization. Thus, the result is stilted at two levels. For example, having a character pause, move two paces to centre stage, face the audience and announce that the death of the patriarch of the household is murder is even more painful than the over-pronounced vowels of failed English accents.

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Classic Theatre Festival, Perth: Two for the Seesaw updates a hit from the 5os

Reviewed by Iris Winston

When it premiered in 1958, William Gibson’s Two for the Seesaw was hailed as an honest examination of the relationship between two damaged souls.

It remains that — as well as a contrast to the more usual whitewashed-happy-nuclear-family style of show more usual in the 50s. But in the current climate, there are issues — even when the drama is presented as a period piece. For example, hitting a woman or commenting that an ulcer is a “man’s disease” is likely to raise the hackles of many audience members in the 21st century.

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Somewhere Beyond the Sea: a text that still needs reworking

Reviewed by Connie Meng

 someoneGetAttachment.aspx Alison Deon, Tracey Ferencz, Stewart Arnott and Matthew Gibson Photo:
1000 Islands Playhouse.   Although I’ve long been a fan of Douglas Bowie’s plays his latest, SOMEWHERE BEYOND THE SEA, currently getting its first airing at the 1000 Islands Playhouse, seems not quite ready for prime time.  It tells the story of Celia, an amateur cook and housewife, on a “foodie” tour of the Scots Isle of Skye.  Her meeting and involvement with tour host Trevor, a world-renowned food critic, opens her eyes to her need for a wider life.  Assailed by global weather disasters plus various herds of sheep and cows, they eventually make it back to London’s Heathrow Airport, both somewhat changed.

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Past Reviews