November, 2012

Pride and Prejudice : Lost in Translation

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Compressing a wonderfully written classic novel into a two-act drama is always a major challenge. As it is virtually impossible to present a similar depth of character or intricacy of storyline, an adaptor is forced to make choices on what to omit.

In her adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Janet Munsil has chosen to concentrate on the story of the rocky romance between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Admittedly, this is the central theme of Austen’s rich novel, but it is only one aspect of her picture of the social scene in 19th century England. For example, when Lydia, the youngest of the Bennetts’ five daughters, returns after her elopement, she pushes ahead of her sisters to point out that, as a married woman, she takes precedence over the unmarried four. This key scene has vanished from Munsil’s episodic adaptation, although she retains Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s shock that all five daughters are “out” in society at once. The two, to my mind, belong together and are much more effective if both are included.

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Pride and Prejudice. Janet Munsil’s new stage adaptation captures all this in vivid, eloquent and frequently very funny fashion

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Sometimes we only discover ourselves by discovering someone else. That at least is the case for Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the main characters in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s classic early 19th-century novel about love, identity and social structure. Each is hobbled by pride and prejudice, and each, over the course of the story, learns to see the other and themselves with a clearer eye. Good thing: without the transformation, they would never have fallen in love, and we wouldn’t have had Austen’s wonderful tale.

Janet Munsil’s new stage adaptation captures all this in vivid, eloquent and frequently very funny fashion. Some devotees of Austen may prefer the author wearing a quiet, ironic smile to laughing out loud, but this period drama is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and, despite sometimes swapping Austen’s subtlety for obviousness, remains in the important ways true to the spirit of the original….read more on the Ottawa Citizen:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Theatre+Review+Pride+Prejudice/7603843/story.html.

Pride and Prejudice: A Feast for the Eye

Reviewed by Connie Meng

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Shannon Taylor & Alix Sideris  
Photo: Trudie Lee

Fans of Jane Austin in general and of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE in particular will probably have one of two reactions to the stage version currently running at the NAC. They’ll either bemoan the fact that so much of the book is left out or they’ll relax and enjoy yet another version of a favorite classic. For me there’s a basic problem with Janet Munsil’s adaptation, as there would be with any adaptation of this book for the stage. In condensing a complex book of this length many subtleties must be omitted. You’re left with largely two-dimensional characters. It takes some pretty nifty acting to bring these characters to believable life. That said, there are some nifty actors in the large cast who manage it.

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Tongue in Groove : Chamber Theatre Hintonburg moves in a new direction!!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Manon Dumas, Jérome Bourgault, Gabrielle Lzarovitz.

Photo: Lisa Zanyk

What a change. We are in the habit of meeting this fine little company in taverns, and bars, dark noisy places suited to sweaty naturalism, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and actors who don’t change their undershirts. Nothing like that happens elsewhere in Ottawa, I can assure you. Well, it is no longer the case and I’m wondering if this means that the Chamber Theatre group is revising its image.

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Footlose: An upbeat musical that is sometimes exciting, sometimes “so so”.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Bomont , U.S.A., the fictional setting for Footloose, is no place to live if you’re a teenager. The small town has banned dancing and rock music, which bothers new arrival Ren McCormack (Mathieu-Philippe Perras, a fine dancer with a good if undisciplined voice) so much that he corrals his fellow teens into challenging the municipal edict.

This is an upbeat musical, so it’s hardly a spoiler to say that Ren and company are successful. Besides, it’s the getting there that’s the focus of this pretty derivative musical as the teens conspire, cuddle, have showdowns with teachers and parents, fight, dance at an out-of-town country music joint, and generally carry on exactly as teenagers are supposed to do.

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Eumenides : Vengeful snarling Furies are especially good.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

 

Too bad the Harper government didn’t see this production of Eumenides, the third part of Aeschylus’ Greek tragedy the Oresteia. Witnessing the transformation of the Eumenides – AKA the Erinyes or Furies, Greek deities of vengeance – from bloodthirsty avengers of wrongdoing to acceptors of a kinder, more just way of dealing with human error might have given the government second thought about its tough-on-crime approach.

MPs would also have enjoyed the show. The graduating class of Ottawa Theatre School acquitted itself well in presenting the story of Orestes’ trial by the gods for murdering his mother Clytemnestra who, in turn, had slain her husband and Orestes’ father Agamemnon.

The snarling, vengeful Furies were especially good: not the kinds of folks you’d want as enemies. Director Jodi Essery also teased out the incisive power of the language in Ted Hughes’ translation/adaptation of the original work.

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thirsty: thoughts on the play after the run is over.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Carol Cece Anderson and Andrew Moodie.  Photo. permission NAC.

Dionne Brand is one of Canada’s most distinguished English language poets. Toronto Poete Laureate since 2009, she is the winner of the Harbourfront Writers’ Award and the Toronto Book Award. She has also won the Governor General’s Award  for Poetry and the Trillium Award  for literature. Theatre, however, is a new step in her literary career and somehow this production of thirsty leaves one with a feeling of incompleteness, in spite of a dream team of collaborators. Dramaturg Paula Danckert also worked on George Elliot Clarke’s oratorio of multiple voices for Whylah Falls; former director of the NAC English theatre Peter Hinton who also created Derek Walcott’s The Odyssey at Stratford several years ago worked on the stage adaptation and directed the play.

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ABC Démolition: An alphabet game becomes the key to a shared history of love, denial and secrets as two characters face the truth about their past.

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

abcMGP_1464  Annik Léger . Photo Mathieu Girard 

Two people in an old school situated somewhere in Northern Ontario start a game of alphabet. One says a word and the other spells it. She is a teacher; he is a demolition worker. His job is to demolish the old school building and her intention is to save it, even at the cost of her own life. Because she is a teacher who used to teach in this school and whose life revolved around generations of kids for so long that it became the essence of her life, she can’t allow others to destroy it. So now, she stands inside the school armed with dynamite stuck to her belt, ready to push the button and blow everything up, including herself. It soon becomes apparent that these two have known each other for a long time and that they share a history of love, denial and secrets. The situation gets more and more complicated with each word spelt, reaching its culmination with the last letter.   

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ABC Démolition: La nouvelle oeuvre de Michel Ouellette bénéficie d’une équipe de production superbe!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Paul Rainville. Photo Mathieu Girard.

Michel Ouellette, la voix incontournable de la dramaturgie franco-ontarienne (Le Testament du couturier entre autres), est de retour avec un texte qui nous mène sur les sentiers complexes de la psychologie humaine à partir d’une situation presque banale.

Nous sommes à l’intérieur d’une école abandonnée destinée à être démolie. Dans l’obscurité nous apercevons les meubles renversés où seule, dans les décombres d’une salle de classe, une enseignante, une ceinture de dynamite attachée à la taille, barricadée à l’intérieur de l’édifice, se déclare prête à se faire sauter avec l’école. Par ce geste d’auto-immolation, elle veut attirer l’attention sur la déshumanisation du monde, la souffrance qui laisse les gens indifférents, les financiers qui profitent du mal que les êtres humains se font entre eux. Elle est dégoûtée de son existence.

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Footloose: Orpheus Musical etc etc

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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photo: Andrew Alexandre

The best reason for the Orpheus Musical Theatre Society’s choice of Footloose as its season opener is that the large-cast musical offers numerous opportunities for young performers to display their talents. The worst reason is that the storyline is painfully thin and the premise is highly implausible.

Based on the 1984 musical, the stage version opened on Broadway 14 years later and hung on for over 700 performances. In a similar category to Rent, Grease and other teenage-angst style of shows, it is simply not of the same quality as the other two (this from someone who is not enamoured of either Rent or Grease). In addition to the weakness of the Footloose script, most of the music is forgettable and the conclusion is obvious from the outset.

Set in Bomont, a bible-thumping small town in the backwaters of the U.S., the local minister, Rev. Moore, has convinced local lawmakers to outlaw dancing, which, like alcohol and drugs, he claims, was in part responsible for a car crash that killed four of the town’s teenagers (including his son).

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Past Reviews