September, 2013

Proud: Biting Funny and Thought Provoking

Reviewed by Connie Meng

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Photo: GCTC, Ottawa

You don’t need to know much about Canadian politics to enjoy Michael Healey’s laugh and thought provoking new play PROUD. It’s an examination of politics that skewers both ends of the political spectrum. PROUD is about much more then political chicanery. To quote Artistic Director Eric Coates, “This play is a fearless and funny poke at government and the public’s role in the whole equation.”

It’s set in the Conservative Prime Minister’s office in 2011 when Stephen

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Proud : Taking Pride in Canadian Theatre

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo of Poster. Courtesy of Great Canadian Theatre Company.

Regardless of political persuasion, Ottawa audiences are sure to find Michael Healey’s Proud amusing and thought provoking.

The majority will probably be left shaking their heads that Tarragon Theatre refused to mount the latest play by their long-time playwright-in-residence — who was proud enough to quit after 14 years in the position and mount the play elsewhere. The word was that Tarragon found Proud potentially libelous because it was a satirical view of the current Prime Minister. (Possibly, Tarragon’s cowardice was also prompted by fear of losing government grants, but I digress….)

Written as the third of a trilogy following Generous and Courageous, Proud is set in the Prime Minister’s office just after the 2011 federal election, in which 59 Quebec seats have been swept up in a blue wave, giving the Conservatives a huge majority. In this alternate reality, as in the actual NDP orange crush, the leader is stuck with a mass of rookie MPs.

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Proud: Lots of laughs, smart dialogue, strong performances. Political Theatre might even go further….!

News from Capital Critics Circle

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Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Tom Barnett and Jenny Young. Photo by Barb Gray.

English Canada has a long tradition of theatre that comments on our political history. The Riel Story and the Metis Rebellion have often been dealt with on stage and more recently, the War of 1812 was the object of a satirical reconstruction that made known its distaste for that useless slaughter along the American Canadian border.

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Proud: A GCTC Production. Patrick Langston in the Ottawa Citizen

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

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Photo. Andrew Alexander

Michael Healey and Jenny Young.

This Prime Minister is shrewd, cynical —­ and likable. Astute, funny play at GCTC is based on Stephen Harper

No doubt about it: Michael Healey sticks us with a problem.

On the one hand, no matter what your political persuasion you’ll probably like — or at least have a chunk of fellow feeling toward — the unnamed prime minister, a man based on Stephen Harper, at the centre of Healey’s political satire Proud.

On the other hand, how can you not be repulsed by this shrewd, powerful leader’s cynical reduction of political life to manipulation of public opinion and the achievement of his personal Holy Grail: a better debt-to-GDP ratio? Then again, who ever said theatre, or politics for that matter, is supposed to wrap life up in one tidy package? Healey himself plays the prime minister in this funny, astute and talky play that is set in the days after the 2011 federal election.

The Conservatives, rather than the NDP, have swept Quebec and hold .read more  …..http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/This+Prime+Minister+shrewd+cynical+likable/8908639/story.html

OTHELLO coming to Cineplex Theatres in Ottawa September 26!!

News from Capital Critics Circle

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Photo Courtesy of the National Theatre.

Reviewed by Henry Hitchings    http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/theatre/othello-nationals-olivier–theatre-review-8585510.html

Adrian Lester is a charismatic, dignified Othello. When jealousy grips him he seethes with the sort of fury that causes him to flip a table with a single flick of his wrist. But he brings a delicate grace to the role, and the crispness of his verse-speaking is admirable – a reminder, as if we needed one, of his great quality as a Shakespearean actor.

Rory Kinnear is mesmerising as Iago, the "honest" officer who is in fact Othello’s nemesis. He is capable of deadpan bluntness yet also of extravagant, eloquent contempt. Kinnear makes deception seem creepily amusing. He confides in the audience, flaunting his malign intelligence.

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Carmen at the National Arts Centre: A Rousing Finale Makes the Evening Worth Every Minute.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Don José (David Pomeroy), Carmen (Alessandra Volpe)

Photo by Wayne Cuddington.

Carmen, based on Prosper Merimée’s novella has been slightly altered by the Meilhac and Halévy libretto but the essence of the melodrama remains. Given all the heart tugging material set in those “exotic” surroundings of Andalucia and the mountains of southern Spain, it is not hard to keep an audience interested during four acts. That is most certainly the case with this Opera Lyra production which, in spite of not being one of their most memorable performances, received a standing ovation when the curtain fell.

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Skin Flick: Sweet in a Silly Way. Comment by Patrick Langston

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

A male actor’s hand on a female actor’s breast? The F word? A play about a cash-strapped married couple making a porn film? It’s sure not the old days at OLT.

Even so, this comedy by Norm Foster seems so far not to have driven any patrons from the theatre at intermission. And really, how could it? It’s funny, fluidly directed (Venetia Lawless in her directorial debut) and well-acted (the cast includes Kenny Hayes, bespectacled and in a conservative suit, as the most unlikely porn star ever). And while suggestive in a tongue-in-cheek way, it’s not offensive, and the stability of married life – albeit occasionally fraught – is at its core.

Skin Flicks is light fare, its characters all likeable but without much depth, its plot hardly credible. But it is kind of sweet in a silly way, and OLT could have done worse than to launch its 101st season with this show.

Skin Flick  by Norm  Foster

Ottawa Little Theatre

© 2013 Microsoft

Skin Flick: OLT opens its 101st Season with Porn Light.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo. Maria Vartenova

Expect no profound messages or, for that matter, much skin in Norm Foster’s latest comedy. Beyond the underlying theme that poverty makes respectable folks take risks, Skin Flick is intended as a send up of the “adult film” industry and is written for laughs.

Rollie and Daphne Waters, an ordinary suburban couple whose son has just started a pricey university program, are out of work and out of cash. Their rough cameraman friend, Alex — a juicy part that Foster wrote for himself — has just been fired. When, Jill, an out-of-work actress with low self-esteem, mistakenly delivers a balloon-gram to the Waters’ house, the group decides that making a DIY porn movie is the way out of their financial troubles. All they need is an appropriately endowed leading man. Enter Alex’s mild-mannered, shy bookmaker, Byron Hobbs.

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One Man, Two Guvnors: British Farce Lumbers onto Lyric Stage.

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

Aimee Doherty, Neil A. Casey.  One Man, Two Guvnors.   photo by Mark S. Howard.

Photo: Mark S. Howard

Boston’s Lyric Stage opened its fortieth season with One Man, Two Guvnors, the 2011 British adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s eighteenth-century A Servant of Two Masters. Like Goldoni’s play, which contemporized the commedia dell’arte, writer Richard Bean and composer-lyricist Grant Olding updated Servant of Two Masters to 1963 when the working-class Beatles were gaining world-wide popularity as class discrimination flourished in the UK.

While the basic plot and characters of One Man, Two Guvnors stick fairly close to Goldoni’s convoluted scenario, the comedy finds some of its cultural roots in the English music hall. This is particularly notable in the appearance of Francis, the comic servant (Neal A. Casey), dressed in the kind of natty, yet tacky outfit worn by British music hall comics.

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Carmen by Opera Lyra: an uneven production where fervour and moments of brilliant singing are paved with pitfalls.

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

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Alessandra Volpe (Carmen), Alain Coulombe (Zuniga). Photo by: Opera Lyra/Sam Garcia

Opera is getting more and more popular in Ottawa. The tickets for the latest Opera Lyra production, Bizet’s Carmen, are selling like hot cakes. I even saw a few women wearing a flower in their hair as an homage to the famous title character. This is well-deserved support, given the organization’s brilliant previous season, which gave rise to the operatic art in Ottawa. Opera Lyra is definitely heading in the right direction. Of course, as the old saying, per aspera ad astra, points out, the road to success is always paved with pitfalls.  Unfortunately “Carmen” proved to be that stumbling block on the road for Opera Lyra. Carmen is one of the most popular operas ever; the one sung and listened to by generations of opera lovers and non-lovers alike. Its attraction lies in its musicality, energy, and the nature of the main character – Carmen.

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