Reviewed by Connie Meng
I’ve often railed against the inevitable standing ovations given these days to most productions, however indifferent. For once the one following THE SECRET MASK by Rick Chafe at GCTC was well deserved and I joined in enthusiastically. This delicate play is a rare combination of heartbreak and humor and the first rate cast and production do it justice.
THE SECRET MASK tells the story of forty-year-old George who gets a call out of the blue to come help his father Ernie, who left the family when George was only two. Ernie is recovering from a stroke as well as aphasia, substituting odd words in his struggle to be understood with often laugh-out-loud results. As he says, “I fell down and when I got up I was an idiot.” In the process of getting to know each other they both begin to deal with the pieces that remain, not the ones missing.
September 17, 2012 Monday at 3:32 pm
Reviewed by Patrick Langston
Photo: Wayne Cuddington for the Citizen. Paul Rainville and Kate Hurman.
OTTAWA — It’s not exactly breaking news to say that communication often has little to do with words. But playwright Rick Chafe and the Great Canadian Theatre Company say it so eloquently in this alternately hilarious and touching show which opens the new GCTS season that their message bears almost endless repeating.
Chafe’s story, which he based partly on his experience with his own father, is richly textured emotionally but has a simple enough storyline.
An aging man named Ernie (Paul Rainville) has had a stroke, leaving him with yawning holes in his memory along with aphasia, a speech impairment. He can converse readily but balls up some words, calling his apartment a “square” thing for example.
September 17, 2012 Monday at 7:14 am
The Secret Mask: Excellent Performances Give Much Impetus to a Script That Was Not Always Fulfilling.
Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
Photo: Wayne Cuddington, Ottawa, Citizen. Paul Rainville, Michael Mancini, Kate Hurman.
At one point in the play someone asks: “Is it possible for a stroke to change a whole personality?” The question seems naïve for anyone who has dealt with the situation first hand! For playwright Rick Chafe however, the answer becomes the premise which propels his play as the author sets up his encounter between Ernie (Paul Rainville) the absent father who has suffered a seriously debilitating stroke, and his angry, stressed out son George (Michael Mancini) who hasn’t seen his father for 40 years and who needs some answers . George only comes into Ernie’s life due to the insistence of the speech therapist Mae (Kate Hurman), a warm optimistic and ever smiling person who works with Ernie, who keeps telling him how wonderful he is and how much progress he is making. She is the intermediary who opens the dialogue, who keeps the communication between the two men flowing, who brings warmth and generosity into Ernie’s life, of which we know almost nothing. At least at the beginning. The play sets about to fill in the gaps.
September 16, 2012 Sunday at 11:13 pm
News from Capital Critics Circle
La Nouvelle scène vient d’annoncer sa saison théâtrale avec, plusieurs spectacles qui nous reviennent de la saison dernière:
une excellente production de Zone et l’Implorante que nous avons vue également l’année dernière à Ottawa. (voir ci-contre la sculpture L’implorante de Camille Claudel qui a inspiré les créateurs de ce spectacle.) Les comptes rendus ce ces deux oeuvres se retrouve déjà sur notre site. Il faut signaler également la prestation de Paul Rainville (en français!) dans l’oeuvre de Michelle Ouellette, ABC Démolition, présentée par le Théâtre de la Vieille 17. Nous sommes très heureuse de constater cette collaboration entre les deux communautées théâtrales. Les metteurs en scène Esther Beauchemin et Roch Catonguay, et l’excellente comédienne Annick Léger feront équipe avec Rainville pour nous offrir une représentation qui sera surement le moment culminant de la saison.
September 12, 2012 Wednesday at 10:02 am
Reviewed by Jamie Portman
Dynamic duo of Gélinas and Counsil. Photo Andrew Alexander
There’s no denying that actors Richard Gélinas and Zach Counsil are an engaging double act in this new production of playwright Marie Jones’s international stage hit about the impact of a Hollywood film crew on a rural Irish community. They’re capable of working together as smoothly as a pair of fingers on the same hand, they have a deft way with comedy, and they serve the needs of the play with their ability to define a character with a few broad strokes.
That latter gift is essential here. These able performers are not just being called upon to portray the droll and jaundiced Jake Quinn (Gélinas) and the bouncily optimistic Charlie Conlon (Counsil), two locals who have been hired as extras on the film. They’re required to work much harder than that and also serve up an additional gallery of characters which include Irish labourers, neurotic filmmakers and a seductive Hollywood diva named Caroline Giovanni.
September 11, 2012 Tuesday at 8:42 am
Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
Mimi, Rodolfo and Musetta (seated) Photo: Barbara Gray.
As the curtain draws open, there is the painter Marcello, perched on a landing on one side of the stage, struggling almost violently with a huge canvass, as the lights of Paris sparkle through the glass roof of the freezing garret where the drama is about to unfold. . The first notes of Puccini’s music strike a highly dramatic tone and we are immediately swept away by what quickly becomes a most visually exciting and musically sumptuous production of La Bohème. The orchestra literally pushed the passion to its height as the singers, also true actors, exhibited body language that was just as expressive as their voices. Heightened emotions, starving artists, soaring passion, lovers’ quarrels, wild life in the Latin Quarter (as seen through the eyes of the librettists of course) and a tragic ending. So goes one of the world’s most popular Nineteenth century soap operas set to an unforgettable score that somehow did not convince the critics when it opened in 1896. However, tastes have changed and stage aesthetics are now much more open to multiple influences and that is what we see here.
September 10, 2012 Monday at 6:04 pm
Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
Richard Gélinas (Jake), Zach Counsil (Charlie). Photo: Andrew Alexander
The award winning Stones in His Pockets by Belfast-based playwright Sarah Marie Jones is set in County Kerry looking over Blasket Sound towards the beautiful Blasket Islands. Artist Merike Olo, has painted them on a flowing canvass, stretched out on a long mural along the back of an otherwise near empty stage. The romantic attraction of those islands is what brings in the Hollywood film crew. Local Irish “extras” with real accents, have been contracted as purely decorative elements, to give another “romantic” touch of authenticity to a passionate irish love story which rings false because all the principals are Americans, trying to master the local speak.
September 9, 2012 Sunday at 11:16 am
Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska
Photo: Barbara Gray. Laura Whelan (Musetta standing), Joyce El-Khoury (Mimi) and Michael Fabiano (Rodolfo)
Saturday, September 8, 2012 was an exciting night in opera at the National Arts Center and will be remembered as the start of a new artistic direction for Opera Lyra. Judging by the audience’s reactions, I would say it’s definitely going down the right path. On the opening night of La Boheme, Southam Hall, full almost to the last seat, lived, breathed, laughed and cried with the heroes on the stage. As hard as it is to achieve this kind of connection between the cast and audience, it is as magical when it happens. And surely, magic happened on Saturday night.
Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème is loosely based on “Scènes de la vie de bohème,” a series of stories by Henri Murger. It was first performed in Turin on February 1, 1896 at the Teatro Regioand under the baton of the young Arturo Toscanini. The story depicts the life of four artists in Paris’s Latin Quarter in 1830. They share a shabby, cold apartment and are often without fuel to warm them during the winter and have very little to eat or drink. Despite this, they live a merry life filled with poetry, song, dance, philosophy and paintings. It is when these poverty-stricken but carefree moments are infiltrated by powerful love that the troubles began. Burdened by deprived life conditions, lovers part, only to be brought back together at the bitter end when Mimi is dying of tuberculosis.
September 9, 2012 Sunday at 1:37 am
Reviewed by Patrick Langston
For the Ottawa Citizen. Photo: Andrew Alexander “I am Sean Harkin and I am someone!” declares a young and seriously troubled character at an early point in Marie Jones’ tragicomedy Stones in His Pockets.
It’s a brave declaration of selfhood by this youth who, in that moment, speaks for so many of his fellow countrymen in contemporary Ireland. And, like other attempts by those countrymen to drag themselves from the mire of economic dislocation, cultural appropriation and defeatism, Harkin’s proclamation is doomed to be little more than words.
All of which makes Jones’ play, shrewd and frequently very funny, ultimately a dark meditation on her native Ireland. That juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy demands subtle intensity and focus in a production if the play is to strike its intended sparks. That doesn’t always happen in this show, which opens The Gladstone’s new season.
September 7, 2012 Friday at 4:17 pm