October, 2012

The Hollow at the OLT: Flamboyance and Heightened Melodrama Make for an Amusing Evening

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo by Alan Dean.

Murder can certainly disrupt a quiet weekend in the country and upset the servants. This is the first lady of the Angkatell household’s major worry when one of the houseguests, the philandering Harley Street doctor, John Cristow, is shot dead.

The killing happens after an unusually long and somewhat tedious exposition. In The Hollow, Agatha Christie’s adaptation of the 1946 novel of the same name, the whodunit doyen devotes more time than usual to nuances of character and relationships, so that the murder is close to an also-ran against such issues as estate entailment and love gained, lost and rearranged.

In the Ottawa Little Theatre production of The Hollow, director Jim McNabb has chosen to backdate the play 20 years from its original setting in the 1950s to give a little more leeway for melodrama and the magnification of the flamboyance of some of the characters. This works well with the already flamboyant Lady Angkatell (delightfully and joyfully played by Danielle Silverman) and to a lesser extent with Theresa Knowles as movie star Veronica Craye. (It is a little difficult to understand why she plays the English-born, transplanted to Hollywood actress with a deep south U.S. accent.)

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Julius Caesar: Contemporary Razzle Dazzle that Captures the Heart of Shakespeare’s Play

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Eugene A. Clark (in the red tie) is a Gemini-winning actor, but he wasn’t convincing in the role of Caesar in this production by the Ottawa Shakespeare Company.Photo: Chris Miulka —

Brutus must never have heard the expression, “Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.” Otherwise, he might well have refused to join with Cassius and his co-conspirators in the assassination of Julius Caesar, an act that brings on the demons of civil strife and personal tragedy.

Then again, had Brutus heeded that expression we would have had neither William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar nor its engaging, if flawed, new version by director Charles McFarland and the Ottawa Shakespeare Company.

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The Glace Bay Miners’s Museum: Subdued Moral Passion Avoids the Perils of Melodramatic Excess

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

How well has Wendy Lill’s 1996 play about a now-vanished mining culture worn? Well, that depends on how you perceive it.
> It’s easy to dismiss it as no more than a period piece with little relevance to the present. Or to protest the lack of epic dimension to this examination of a company-controlled mining community in 1940s Cape Breton. Or to attack it for failing to be in a more experimental post-realist mode. (more…)

Louise Pitre in Concert: A Terrific Concert!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Pitre7406245 Photo: Ottawa  Citizen

Take a fine singer with a pleasant personality equally at home in English or French. Add a first-class accompanist at the piano.Present in an intimate setting.This is a recipe for a terrific concert. And that is just what multi-award winner Louise Pitre provided in Perth on Friday, October 19. Whether she performed one of the songs from the hit musical Mamma Mia, in which she starred in Toronto and on Broadway, or an Edith Piaf song such as La Vie en Rose, she took her own advice to contestants in the CBC show Over the Rainbow — she is one of the judges — to feel the song and interpret the emotions in it honestly.

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The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum: Flawed But Still Powerful

Reviewed by Connie Meng

The Glace  Bay Miner’s Museum by Wendy Lill, based on the short story by Sheldon Currie, is set in Glace Bay on the east coast of Nova Scotia during the years following World War II. It’s a town supported by coal mining with its dangerous working conditions, lung disease and the early struggle toward unionization. The MacNeil family is trapped in a routine of squabbles and toil when young Margaret meets Neil Currie. Although without job prospects, eil’s music and love of life, (not to mention his love of Margaret), is a catalyst for change in the family dynamics.

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The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum. Neptune Theatre Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary With a Canadian Classic

Reviewed by Iris Winston

                                                                                                                 Inac_museum_0246__large-600x371 n 1940s Cape Breton, the price of coal was frequently death in the mines, overpowering fear, widowhood, chronic physical or emotional illness and unending poverty.

In playwright Wendy Lill’s 1995 stage adaptation of The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum (one of the many incarnations of Sheldon Currie’s 1976 short story by the same name — also a novel, a movie — Margaret’s Museum — and a radio play) the equal shadows of crippling poverty and the threat of death underground are ever present

Photo :NAC

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The Glace Bay Miners’Museum. A Theatre Steeped in Too Much Realism

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Photo: Chris Mikula

There is something sad about a play that has turned into a Museum piece! That means it once had a vibrant life of its own because it echoed a particular cultural setting but as time passed, the play died a bit because other forms of performance have become more interesting, more meaningful, other forms of playwriting have become more relevant. It also could mean that the direction has not evolved with the new possibilities of the contemporary stage, especially when such a reading could have infused more life into the cinders of a work that still holds some flickering sparks. This is the feeling I had watching the Neptune Theatre/NAC English Theatre coproduction of Wendy Lill’s play which opened at the National Arts Centre last night.

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The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum Feels Dated

Reviewed by Maja Stefanovska

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Wendy Lill’s play The Glace Bay Miner’s Museum is set on the East Coast of Canada sometime directly following the Second World War. The story, which is about the tragic lives of Glace Bay miners and their fight for more fair working conditions and wages, may not speak directly to many of us in the audience. After all, I can’t say I know too many people in Ottawa starting their work day down a mine shaft with minimal safety precautions only to be paid below minimum wage. It’s what’s at the heart of The Glace Bay Miner’s Museum that makes it universal. Yes, it speaks of a specific time and place, but the struggle to find happiness in life after a tragedy and the fight for one’s place in the world is universal. Unfortunately, the NAC’s production, marking the opening of the 2012-2013 season, fails to capture this universality and instead delivers a play that feels dated and flat.

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Les Femmes savantes de Molière, mise en scène de Denis Marleau.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Henri Chassé (Trissotin). Photo Stéphanie Jasmin

La salle du Théâtre du nouveau monde à Montréal ne peut rivaliser avec le Château de Grignon, les images élégantes de la belle terrasse qui donne sur la cour où Mme de Sévigné a passé les dernières années de sa vie. Néanmoins, Les Femmes savantes, réalisées à l’occasion des Fêtes nocturnes du Château (Drôme), s’est déplacée vers la scène montréalaise au mois de septembre et malgré le changement de lieu, la soirée est aérée, allégée, rafraichie, joyeusement ludique et d’une très grande gaieté . Nous ressentons le souffle vivifiant, quasi organique, de cette mise en scène! Quel immense plaisir cette version des Femmes savantes même dans la salle obscure du théâtre, rue Sainte-Catherine !

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Marie by the Houston Ballet: A Sumptuous Crowd Pleaser

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Marie Antoinette (Melody Mennite). Photo: Pam FrancisRepPg_Marie_010410

The Houston Ballet has created Revolutionary fireworks! Using an enormous cast of colourful figures from the French and Austrian Court, they tell the story of the French Revolution as a theatrical dance narrative which fore grounds the life of Marie Antoinette , wife of Louis XVI. She evolves from the shy, innocent Austrian princess, to the bewildered wife of the young Dauphin de France, and then as both the childish and the mature pleasure loving wife of the King of France (Louis XVI) and finally as the Queen who accompanies her husband and two children to the guillotine.

This extremely talented company of highly energetic young dancers displayed magnificent artistic virtuosity with their effortless lifts, their strong leaps, their sensuously romantic pas de deux, their playful debauchery in the French court and even their Zombie like group effects that echoed ever so slightly Michael Jackson’s videos when the famished French population swarms around a lone Marie Antoinette in Act III, as she faces the revolutionary tribunal that will condemn her to death. Stanton Welch’s choreography based on pure balletic conventions of the genre using much mime and the coded gestures we see in all of Petitpas’ narrative ballet, (this one was created in 2009!!), set to the expressive , often majestic and melodically rich music of Shostakovich, turned this narrative ballet into a highly emotional performance with visually stunning costumes, and lighting effects that exploit all the drama of those violent historical moments. Kandis Cook’s sets in particular establish a real dialogue with the events performed on stage as the decorative styles, the architecture and the design details echo all the shifts in mood, and the shifting meanings of the ritualized behaviour of the French court. .

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Past Reviews