August, 2012

The Clockmaker: Accumulated fragments of a troubling past that is never really there. A tall order for Stephen Massicotte and for the audience.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Jenny Young (Frieda) and Jonathan  Wilson (Heinrich Mann). Photo: Kaufmann Photography.

The first thing one notices in this perfectly equipped theatre are the seats, placed on opposing sides of the performance space. They lengthen the long rectangular  area in the middle, creating a back and forth movement of the eye. This is well  suited to Stephen Massicotte’s interpretation of  the nature of memory and its intricate relationship with the passage of time, all woven through a complex theatrical narrative involving a Clockmaker (Jonathan Wilson), a married woman Frieda (Jenny Young), a violent husband Adolphus (Brett Christopher) and a sinister interrogator (Gordon Bolan).

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Chaim Potok’s novel becomes a discussion of fascinating ideas with a cast not quite up to the task.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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The novel by Chaim Potok deals with a question of Jewish philosophy and would seem to be a subject better suited to prose than to the theatre. Aaron Posner’s adaptation, heavy with explanations and literary language, tries to clarify the conflict within the young Asher Lev . There is the religious tradition in which he was raised: Hasidic Judaism, an ultra-orthodox form of Judaism which is also linked to the mystical tradition of the Kabbalah and fundamental belief in the laws as set out in the Torah. He however, wants to live in the world of the imagination: he wants to be an artist.

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Don’t stop at Norm’s Station time. Jasper Station at the OLT.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Playwright Norm Foster. Photo by Alan Dean. Perhaps playwright Norm Foster was waiting for a train when the idea of a script about five people in the waiting room of a train station occurred to him. Perhaps Canada’s most prolific playwright devoted more time to turning Jasper Station into a musical in cooperation with composer and lyricist Steve Thomas than is obvious from the very stilted first act of this play with music, first presented in 2001.

Act II has a little more substance — just a little — but, in general, the story line of Jasper Station is wafer thin, the songs are forgettable and the characters range from one-dimensional to foolish. And weak material, however well presented, remains weak.

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Puppets Festival in Almonte: an event gaining international attention!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo: Paddy Vargas. One of the most satisfying aspects of the annual Puppets Up International Puppet Festival in Almonte is its carnival atmosphere. For two days, the main street is full of puppets, face painters, clowns, street musicians, craft tents, cotton candy and visiting families. Their view may be of a lanky stilt walker dancing to a rock ‘n roll ditty from one of the street entertainers, a pint-sized smiling version of Spiderman with his face immaculately covered in scarlet and black make-up, puppets chatting from one of the balconies or the midday parade of the entire puppet contingent. Store windows decorated with painted stage drapes and filled with puppets get into the act too and many of the townsfolk are involved as volunteers.

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My Name is Asher Lev. A beautiful and demanding play.

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

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Photos by  9th Hour Theatre company

My Name is Asher Lev is a story about growing up in a strict and religious surrounding while searching for an individual identity. Set in in the 1950s in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, it explores the conflict between orthodox Jewish tradition and art, as well as between the individual and the group.

It is not easy to be different and Asher Levy, a child with a prodigious artistic ability, knows it only too well. Although everybody admires his gift for painting, it seems that, as he grows older, the adults are less and less capable of understanding him, and more and more prone to angrily censor his work.

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Sophocles and Christopher Plummer celebrate the power of language.

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

plummer7096719.bin  Postmedia News, The Ottawa Citizen. Photo: David Hou

STRATFORD, Ont. • In one theatre, we have Christopher Plummer reminiscing about the writings that have nurtured and inspired him through 82 years of life.

A few blocks away, in another venue, we have the 2,400-year-old Sophocles tragedy Elektra, reasserting its timelessness in a production with astonishing fusion of sight and sound that should even convert those who profess to hate classical Greek theatre.

It’s an interesting pairing for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s August openings — two offerings that may seem poles apart in sensibility. But there is a link between Plummer’s elegantly witty one-man show and Sophocles’s blood-soaked saga of family carnage.

Both events celebrate the power of language.

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Mary, Mary is well past its best-before date even though it fits the Classic Festival mandate!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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The Classic Theatre Festival’s declared mandate is “presenting the classic hits of Broadway and the London stage” and there is no doubt that Mary, Mary falls within the defined requirement.

This romantic comedy was one of playwright Jean Kerr’s two biggest hits. (The other was Please Don’t Eat the Daisies.) Chalking up a four-year run in the early 1960s, Mary, Mary, was one of the longest running Broadway plays of the decade.

The issue is that, while it may have seemed fresh and innovative half a century ago, the script, with a stilted first act weighted down with exposition, now gives the impression of being well past its best-before date.

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The Clockmaker: Romantic Mystery with Kafkaesque overtones makes for powerful summer theatre.

Reviewed by Connie Meng

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Stephen Massicotte, author of the award-winning play THE CLOCKMAKER, has become one of my favorite contemporary playwrights. If you’ve seen either of his earlier plays, MARY’S WEDDING or THE OXFORD ROOF CLIMBER’S REBELLION, you can understand why. This time THE CLOCKMAKER tackles some heavy questions with both insight and humor.

This romantic mystery begins with the Kafkaesque interrogation of clockmaker Heinrich Mann by the rather threatening Pierre, whose function remains obscure till near the end of the play. Heinrich is then asked to repair a smashed clock by the mysterious Frieda and we begin to learn of her abusive husband Adolphus. Threaded through the complex unraveling of the story is the pervasive way smells trigger memory and the idea that what we remember is a choice.

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Oleanna: Red collective reinforces the ambiguity of Mamet’s play in this good production at the Saw Gallery

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Jason Lehner in Oleanna.  When Oleanna appeared in 1992, audiences were perplexed. Whether it was the David Mamet’s powerful   film scenario, or the stage production which we also saw at the NAC around that period, audiences could not quite figure out what Mamet’s position was.  Was this an angry backlash against a dogmatic feminist movement which is portrayed as a form of Fascist inquisition through the actions of a vindictive student trying to get back at her prof?  Or is this professor getting what he deserves?

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The Game of Love and Chance. Massingham meets Marivaux!!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

game6976047 First of all let’s be clear. As it stands, this production by Odyssey Theatre has very little to do with Marivaux . The characters have the same names but they are essentially types inspired by the commedia dell’arte that one could find in much theatre of the 17th and 18th Centuries. The plot dealing with servants and masters who switch identities is also a theatrical convention that can be found in Moliere, in Marivaux, In Goldoni, in Beaumarchais .

It is true that at each period, the social significance of the switching changes and that is something this adaptation has confused rather badly ..but no matter. Marivaux ‘s theatre is essentially characterized by a certain style of performance (which has nothing to do with this show) and a style of language called Marivaudage (which has even less to do with this show)

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Past Reviews