Capital Critics' Circle
Le cercle des critiques de la capitale

Reviewing Theatre in Canada's Capital Region
La critique théâtrale de la région Ottawa-Gatineau

Tolstoy’s “Family Happiness” masterfully adapted and directed by Piotr Fomenko

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


Photo: A. Kharitinov

Family Happiness, which played at Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theatre on January 26 and 27, is an extraordinary production. Adapted from Tolstoy’s novella of the same name by Russia’s renowned late director Piotr Fomenko, who also staged it, movement and text are given equal value. Although Family Happiness has a much simpler plot, particularly in the staged version, it bears a resemblance to Tolstoy’s later novel, Anna Karenina, which also examines marital happiness and unhappiness. But where the novella is realistic, the play is abstract and symbolic.

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Calme de Lars Norén : Portrait impitoyable d’une famille qui sombre doucement dans le néant.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre, Théâtre français  

Crédit photo : Pascal Victor

Lars Norén serait inconnu au Canada si ce n’était pour Brigitte Haentjens , celle qui capte les consciences blessées comme nul autre au pays et actuellement la directrice artistique du théâtre français du Centre national des arts à Ottawa. Au mois de mars (2012) Haentjens a monté le 20 novembre , un monologue de Norén écrit au lendemain de la fusillade dans une école allemande en 2006. Les réactions positives suscitées par cette création québécoise ont confirmé la vision de Mme Haentjens et l’importance de l’auteur dramatique suédois qui mériterait certainement une attention plus suivie chez nous.

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Bat Boy The Musical: Gladstone Production Enhances the Material

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photograph by Barbara Gray

The cult status of some shows can often be mystifying. Take the 1997 off-Broadway musical Batboy which has romped onto the Gladstone Theatre stage in a spirited production far more worthy than the material itself.

With its unapologetic excess of camp, its determination to send up the conventions of both the horror movie and the Broadway musical, its cheeky disregard of the need for psychological plausibility or characters which go beyond the stereotype, Batboy (which was inspired by a spoof news item in the satiric publication, Weekly World News) may strike purists as a mess. However, rather like the Rocky Horror Picture Show, it’s a mess that insists we like it — but to serve that purpose, you need ensemble playing which goes beyond the call of duty. We get that thanks to director Dave Dawson, obviously an adroit ringmaster when it comes to this sort of thing. Even so, what we’re left with is the tritely familiar story of the loner kid who wants to belong; that the musical is also seeking to send up this cliché plot merely adds to the thematic confusion, given that despite the show’s anarchic disposition, we actually feel sorry for the title character. (Continue reading » )

Black Sheep gets its teeth into a batty show

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photograph: Barbara Gray

The Weekly World News has a lot to answer for. In June 1992, then editor Dick Kulpa published a purportedly true story about a half-human, half-bat living in a cave in West Virginia. The supermarket tabloid is now defunct, but the mythical creature lives on in the cult musical created by writers Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming five years later.

The genetically challenged premise aside, the bizarre story line requires maximum suspension of disbelief, particularly after taking a left turn on its way to a ridiculous ending.

Yes, I know it’s intended as a send-up of vampire tales, westerns and such big musicals as The Lion King with a tip of the hat and a wink to My Fair Lady and smaller shows such as Greater Tuna, but the Batboy story is still too nonsensical for my taste. (Continue reading » )

Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box: Passionate Performance, Uneven Story

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  

Photograph by Barbara Gray

Carmen Aguirre doesn’t shy away form touchy or embarassing topics in her passionate monologue, Carmen Aguirre’s Blue Box. The show relays the seemingly disparate stories of Carmen’s distant past as a Chilean resistence fighter against the Pinochet regime and her longstanding affair with a Chicano” television star over a decade later. It’s an exercise in fearless bluntness, whose peppery language would make even the more open-minded blush. Unconiditonal love is at the core of both stories, though it’s Aguirre’s tales of Chile that really capture the audience and contain the emotional crux of the performance. (Continue reading » )

Carmen Aguirre’s BLUE BOX Disappoints in Larger Venue

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  

Carmen Aguirre
Photo: Andrew Alexander

BLUE BOX, written and performed by Carmen Aguirre, deals with two aspects of her life, both concerned with passion of different kinds. There is her passion as a youthful revolutionary in the Chile of Pinochet and there’s her romantic passion for a Hollywood movie star when in her early thirties.  The structure of what is essentially a monologue is problematic.  It shifts abruptly and constantly in time and place with no apparent reason or connection, making it difficult to follow. (Continue reading » )

Blue Box by Carmen Aguirre. A memory that should have remained with Undercurrents.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  

Time changes everything. Or at least it does when it comes to this show, a Nightswimming production directed by Brian Quirt.

I saw it last year at GCTC’s undercurrents festival and liked it. Delivered in storytelling fashion, it seemed a fresh, funny and smart retrospective on a young woman’s entree into the very adult worlds of political action (the narrator was a resistance fighter in General Augusto Pinochet’s Chile), love (she was drawn irresistibly to a dim but sensually magnetic Mexican she called “Vision Man”), and sex (she does enjoy it and worked in the sad, tawdry phone sex business for a spell).

My reaction to seeing it again, this time as part of GCTC’s regular season? The show is self-congratulatory, emotionally tepid and far too long.

Was it the intimate space of GCTC’s Studio theatre that helped make the show captivating last year? Was Aguirre just having an off-night when the show opened on the much larger main stage last week?

Hard to say, but revisiting the show was a disappointment. The terror that we should have felt when she was being followed by Chilean bad guys, for instance, was almost non-existent. The crazy affair with Vision Man? A little dull, actually, maybe because Aguirre’s sexual frankness – she immediately dispenses with the euphemism of “box,” for example – quickly loses its shock value, becoming predictable and (am I missing something here?) pointless.

There are some good moments when the narrator’s deeply felt anger about social injustice emerges, but such scenes are rare.

This remounting suggests the show should have just remained on the festival circuit.

Bat Boy The Musical: A spirited and occasionally poignant production at the Gladstone Theatre.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


photo  David Pasho  Zach  Counsel in the title role

Reviewed for the Ottawa Ciizen

OTTAWA — It’s an unlikely plot: A half-bat, half-boy emerges from a cave and tries to make a life for himself in a redneck West Virginia town. But then again, logic and musicals don’t necessarily keep company.

Under Black Sheep Theatre director Dave Dawson, the ensemble delivers a funny, occasionally poignant and spirited production of this nihilistic cult favourite written by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming with music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe. The writers based the musical on an early 1990s story in the satiric Weekly World News.
Zachary Counsil plays Bat Boy. Equipped with a pair of overgrown eye teeth and Mr. Spock-like ears, he’s full-voiced on the musical numbers (that’s not true of all the cast) and textured when depicting the pain of being unusual in a world where being unusual is to be feared and hated.
And Bat Boy is feared and hated. The folks of Hope Falls – now there’s an ambiguous name for a town – are horrified when Bat Boy first appears. It’s a classic case of “otherness,” although Bat Boy, taken in by the kindly if frigid Meredith Parker (Rebekah Shirey), wife of the local veterinarian, soon acquires language and manners in excellent My Fair Lady fashion. The big Act One number Show You a Thing or Two is a tip of the tongue-in-cheek hat to that hit musical, with Bat Boy exclaiming, in a paraphrase of Professor Henry Higgins, “I think I’ve got it!”………….

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All My Sons: A solid take on Miller’s award-winning play.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Photo:Maria Vartanova
If you're looking for a lift from the post-Christmas blues, Arthur Miller's
All My Sons is not your ticket.

However, if you're looking for a truthful, emotionally harrowing play about
families, responsibility and just how adept we humans are at deceiving
ourselves about ourselves, OLT's production of Miller's 1947 play is what
you want.

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All My Sons : Arthur Miller’s award-winning war drama is just as meaningful today.

Reviewed by on    Community Theatre  


MILLERsons_2_web Photo de Maria Vartanova

Family or country? Money or morality? These are the choices at the core of Arthur Miller’s 1947 drama All My Sons.Sparked by the case of an Ohio manufacturer, whose daughter reported him to the authorities for supplying the military with faulty machinery, All My Sons was Miller’s first award-winning drama.

Like Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953) and A View from the Bridge (1955), All My Sons offers a portrait of a society, firmly rooted in its time and place, as well as focusing on human flaws and individuals at a pivotal point in their lives.

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