March, 2013

An Open Letter to the Ottawa Little Theatre

Reviewed by Jeunes critiques

Photo: Maria Vartanova

A student review by Brianna McFarlane who is in Yana Meerzon’s theatre criticism class at Ottawa University
Dear Ottawa Little Theatre,

Congratulations on your 100th season! With an all-star line-up of remounted shows from all different decades, you show no signs of stopping. However, I have a tiny bone to pick with you. Often criticized for producing shows solely geared towards an… ahem…”elder” demographic, director John Collins’ Deathtrap, written by Ira Levin, is no different. This production does not stray from the tried, tested, and true conventions that community theatre has become associated with, though, this is not to say that this necessarily negates a terrible performance: only a mediocre one, which, I think, is worse because it is forgettable. Your company is such a pillar in the Ottawa theatre scene that I honestly believe the OLT can afford to start pushing the boundaries a little further.

Deathtrap was written in 1978 and falls under the tricky genre, not seen or performed very often these days, known as a comedic thriller. The story focuses on the stuck-in-a-rut playwright Sydney Bruhl, played by Lawrence Evenchick, who, through a hilarious series of murderous plots, tries to get his hands on the new play, aptly named Deathtrap, written by his secretary slash lover Clifford Anderson, played by Dan DeMarbre. In the end, Clifford’s script proves to be to die for…literally, and the piece finishes in a blackout leaving two characters, best left unnamed, on stage locked in a mortal combat and the audience left wondering whose hands Deathtrap will fall into next.

Deathtrap: trapped indeed, but worth it in the end.

Reviewed by Jeunes critiques



Meaghan Flaherty is a student in Yana Meerzon’s theatre criticism course

Photo by Mike Heffernan


What more can the average theater goer ask for than a pleasant night out? Nothing is the answer – except perhaps for some great theater thrown into that mix as an added bonus. Unfortunately, Deathtrap, written by Ira Levin and directed by John Collins at the Ottawa Little Theater only somewhat succeeds in this venture; the audience is given a pleasant night out indeed, but the theater is only mediocre. This comedic thriller lacks the real thrill it needs to make it a memorable piece during a very memorable 100th season for OLT.


Deathtrap: A handsome-looking production that doesn’t always mask inherent problems in the script.

Reviewed by Jamie Portman


Photo: Glendon James Hartle

The big problem in discussing Ira Levin’s clever but nasty thriller is that there’s not much you can say about it without spoiling the audience’s enjoyment. The script revels in unexpected twists and turns, and is adept at orchestrating the kind of shock scene that gives you no advance hint that it’s going to happen.

On the other hand, no production should give you time to think too hard about the play because that will make you aware of just how preposterous it really is. That means maintaining a solid theatrical momentum which drives the story to its gruesome climax. It also means an appreciation of the fact that — for all its cunning with plot devices — the play is also a character piece.


Deathtrap: A production that remains entertaining despite assorted weak moments

Reviewed by Iris Winston


Diana Franz. Photo: Maria Vartanova

Deathtrap has a powerful ending. The problem is that it dribbles on for one scene too many after that.

Ira Levin’s 1978 comedy/thriller was a hit that ran for four years on Broadway, a further hit as a movie starring Michael Caine, and it continues to be an effective send-up of the whodunit genre, with its many twists and layers.

A play about a playwright trying to overcome a writer’s block and write a hit thriller, the audience is set up to believe he is ready to kill for an idea. Just then, the perfect commercially viable play, written by one of his students, falls into his lap.


Deathtrap: A return to the ‘80s that doesn’t quite make it

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

death2Lawrence Evenchick as Sidney Bruhl  Photo: Maria Vartanova

Ira Levin’s well known and very clever thriller about an older playright, a younger playwright  and play that is in the process of writing itself during the performance, has become a great classic of repertory theatre. Deathtrap has been performed many times in Ottawa, in both languages, since it appeared on Broadway and as a film. Now, it is back at the Ottawa Little Theatre representing the hit from the seventh decade of the OLT since it first appeared on the OLT stage in 1983, directed then by Susan Taylor. Lets quote the Ottawa Citizen review from that period: “ work properly (the play) must have perfect timing (and be ) a fast-paced, well executed production.”


Clybourne Park: Real Estate and Racism at the Center for the Arts in Boston

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin


Photo: Craig Bailey. From left to right, Thomas Derrah, DeLance Minefee, and Michael Kaye.


Bruce Norris’s Pulitzer prizewinning Clybourne Park, a SpeakEasy production now playing at Boston’s Center for the Arts, uses Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 classic, A Raisin in the Sun, as a springboard to discuss race relations in the United States. A White man, living in an era when many believe we are moving towards a “post-racial” or color-blind America, Norris’s perspective diverges widely and wildly from Hansberry’s. A Raisin in the Sun was deeply personal to Hansberry. Its story of a Black family, whose purchase of a house in a segregated middle-class neighborhood aroused the White community’s hostility, was based on her parents’ experience. The oppressive racism of the period permeated her life. A Raisin in the Sun treats a working-class African American family’s efforts to achieve the American dream in the mid-twentieth-century.


Le retour du “Cahier"…” à la fondation Clément: intense émotion par la grâce de Jacques Martial.

News from Capital Critics Circle


—Par Roland Sabra —

Depuis 10 ans sa lecture du « Cahier d’un retour au pays natal » tourne autour du monde, Australie, Guadeloupe, Singapour, Fidji, Nouvelle Calédonie, New-York, Martinique, Paris, etc. avec aussi des retours, obligés, au pays natal de l’auteur. C’était le cas samedi soir à la Fondation Clément, en plein air. Moment inoubliable : les fils, au propre et au figuré, de Césaire, hallucinés et émus jusqu’aux larmes, et c’étaient de vraies larmes miraculeuses, ont vu de leurs yeux vu sur scène le Père de la nation martiniquaise. Alors que rien dans la corpulence de Jacques Martial ne renvoie à la frêle silhouette du poète, Césaire était là vivant parmi les siens. C’était Lui au premier jet du texte. Telle est la performance fabuleuse de Jacques Martial dans la nuit lumineuse d’un moment partagé.


le 20 novembre: Swedish Playwright Lars Norén paints a portrait of an all too familiar murderer

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Christian Lapointe as Sebastian. Photo: NAC.

A young man stands alone in the acting space and stares at us for few minutes. He is an actor called Christian Lapointe. The acting space is in a rehearsal room at the NAC where the audience is seated on several rows of steeply raked seats watching him perform like a strange animal. He provokes us, he confronts us, he seems confused, angry, aggressive, and under extreme stress. He leaps about on all fours; he licks a dish full of water like a dog. He finally tells us he cannot take this life any more. He tells us he has one more hour to live, the time of the performance. And after that we will see what happens. “We have been warned”. In fact, the news told it all a few days before because this play by Norén, is based on notes and a video made by Sebastian Borre, an 18 year old school boy who made all this information available on line the day before he went into his former school and shot the students and the teachers. All this took place in 2006. The play was written several weeks later.


le 20 novembre: Christian Lapointe electrifies!

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska


Christian Lapointe as Sebastian.  Photo: NAC

Lars Norén’s play, "20. November," is a monodrama based on the true story of a young man who injured five teachers and fellow students at the Geschwister-Scholl School in Emsdetten and took his own life immediately after. In the process of writing, Norén used parts of the young man’s diary, which was published on the Internet. His protagonist is an angry, confused, tormented misfit who only seeks to be included and accepted for what he is. He tells us the most disturbing truth, the one that we don’t want to know and don’t want to see. Is a young man who counts the minutes of the last hours of his life the only one to blame for his actions? To what extent is society, as it is today, a creator of events like this one?


Opera Lyra announces a return to Bizet, Puccini and Gilbert and Sullivan!! Something for everyone..

News from Capital Critics Circle

Carmen Crop(1) Carmen at Opera Lyra.

Photos: from Opera Lyra

Today, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Tyrone Paterson announced he has programmed a season filled with passion, love and crime.  Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly will both be fully staged operas in Southam Hall, NAC.  Rounding out the season is an opera for families and students; Gilbert & Sullivan’s witty

Pirates of Penzance presented in the Arts Court Theatre.


Past Reviews