October, 2013

Festival’s playlist runs gamut from delightful to pedestrian

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

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Scene from The Book of Daniel
featuring Maureen Smith, Eric Craig
and Brian K. Stewart
Photograph by Andrew Alexander Photography

The Extremely Short New Play Festival
New Theatre of Ottawa
At Arts Court Theatre

The thing about a festival of extremely short plays — in this case 10 of them, all new and each no longer than 10 minutes — is that if you don’t like one, another will soon take its place.

This second annual festival consists of shows by Ottawa writers about everything from an ape applying for the job of governor of the Bank of Canada (the ridiculously humorous The Top Job by Wynn Quon) to a memory piece about coming of age as a Jew during the 1976 Montreal Olympics (The Book of Daniel by Lawrence Aronovitch).

Under John Koensgen’s direction, Eric Craig, Maureen Smith, Brian K. Stewart and Colleen Sutton perform all the parts. (more…)

NAC’s English theatre Impishly Transfers Moliere’s Tartuffe to a Newfoundland Fishing Village

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

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Andy Jones as Tartuffe, Photo by Andree Lanthier

It’s fascinating to see how well Tartuffe adapts to the outport culture of Newfoundland. Or perhaps we should modify this and note that we’re talking about the particular outport culture that emerges from the impish mind of Andy Jones, a social satirist who knows his island well and remains ever alert to its possibilities when it comes to creating comic mayhem.

Indeed, Jones’s gleeful new version Moliere’s 350-year-old masterpiece, does have the rollicking cadences of a salt-water ballad — albeit an off-kilter one. And in Jillian Keiley’s spirited production for the NAC English theatre, it carries the tang of an irreverent tall tale about duplicity and gullibility on the Rock. It’s a testament to Keiley’s direction, to the work of the cast, and to designer Patrick Clark who has concocted a splendid two-level period set for the occasion, that for two-and-a-half hours you’re ready to engage in the fantasy that Moliere’s vision of human nature at its most preposterous actually did play out here, on this island, in the late spring of 1939. (more…)

Tartuffe for Today

Reviewed by Connie Meng

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Tartuffe, Photo by Andree Lanthier

The NAC English Theatre has opened their season with an unusually lively production of Moliere’s TARTUFFE, the play that skewers religious hypocrisy.  This is not your father’s TARTUFFE.  Very loosely adapted and even more loosely translated by Andy Jones, this version is set in 1939 at the home of a wealthy merchant on the South Coast of Newfoundland.  Mr. Jones has retained Moliere’s plot, characters and even his rhyming couplets. The couplets are in the vernacular, which adds to the humor, in particular the incongruities of contemporary slang and sexual references.

Patrick Clark’s sumptuous two-story 1930s set is complete with exterior balconies, other houses silhouetted in the distance and even a laundry line.  I especially liked the moose head and portrait of Queen Victoria and the use to which they were put.  Rebecca Picharack’s lighting was fine and Marie Sharp’s costumes on the whole excellent, right down to the seams in the ladies’ stockings.  Mariane’s black shoes struck a discordant note, but both Elmire’s wig and Act II dress were very good. (more…)

Flashdance: Lots of Dance but Little Flash.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

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Handout  photo: Broadway Across America. Jillian Mueller as Alex in “Flashdance”.

The show’s big number is What a Feeling, but What Feeling? might better describe the touring version of Flashdance: The Musical which arrived in town Tuesday. A stage remake of the hit 1983 film Flashdance, the live version is written by Canadian Tom Hedley who created the original story and most of the screenplay, and Robert Cary. Music is by Robbie Roth who also wrote the lyrics with Cary. The film, a commercial success although generally mauled by the critics, catapulted Jennifer Beals in the main role of Alex from obscurity to stardom.

Hedley hopes to take his stage version – it’s not the one that played in England a few years ago – to Broadway after touring it for the next several months. Unfortunately, while there’s ample dance there’s little flash, at least in this production. Granted, the company was operating at a disadvantage because a badly balanced sound system left performers overwhelmed by the orchestra (Nicholas Williams conducts) and rendered their voices unpleasantly reedy…….read more…

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/movie-guide/Review+Lots+dance+little+flash+this+remake/9073433/story.html

Taking Tartuffe to the Rock

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Andy Jones as Tartuffe. Photo: Micaela Morey

The universality of oily evangelists and charlatans comes through loud and clear in the current production of Molière’s Tartuffe, “very loosely adapted and even more loosely translated” by Andy Jones of CODCO fame, who also plays the title role — with great glee and to great effect.

The wealthy Orgon is demonstrably as equally easily duped in 1664 in France and in 1939 in Newfoundland. (The stupidity of his obsession is irritating however it is presented, but without his gullibility, Tartuffe could neither triumph nor be exposed as the charlatan he is.)

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Capital Critics Circle Announces Nominations for 2012-13 and Adds Student Award Category

News from Capital Critics Circle

OTTAWA, October 23, 2013 – The Capital Critics Circle today announced the nominees for the fourteenth annual English-language theatre awards for plays presented in the National Capital Region during the 2012-2013 season. The Circle has expanded this year’s list to include an award for the best student production.

The nominees are:

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Tartuffe : a near slapstick version of the original that reveals the emergence of a popular theatrical language of literary status.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Andy Jones and Christine Brubaker. Photo Micaela Morey.

Actor/writer Andy Jones is extremely modest when he calls this version of Tartuffe, a loosely adapted and even more loosely translated version of Molière’s 17th century satire of religious hypocrites . Molière’s Le Tartuffe, targeted the spiritual guides obsessed with sin, originating within Jansenism, a religious movement of the period. There is much vicious anger in Molière’s satire that goes for the jugular in no uncertain terms. Jones’ magnificent text is pure comedy while keeping the original narrative, and more to his credit, by maintaining the rhyming form. He has not maintained the 12 syllabic verse form of the French alexandrine but his rhymes work very well and that is not an easy task. The result is a dialogue that is savoury, luscious, popular, vulgar, poetic, earthy, metaphorical, and a most exciting mixture of images and language levels.

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Sherlock Holmes sputters as a spoof

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

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Photo: no attribution. Published in “Ottawa Life”

The chief virtue of Black Sheep Theatre’s frenetic and often irritating production of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hansom Killer is the presence of an engaging dynamo of a performer named Emily Windler.

She’s so enjoyable in her multi-character contribution that you can almost forgive her for being involved in the creation of this sophomoric, self-admiring attempt to send up the Sherlock Holmes genre.

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You Fancy Yourself: Funny and Poignant

Reviewed by Connie Meng

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Maja Ardal as June McCready. Photo by GCTC

YOU FANCY YOURSELF by Maja Ardal, a Contrary Company production currently running at GCTC, is both poignant and funny. It’s performed by the playwright who, in the course of the play, shows us 11 different characters. The main character is Elsa, based on the childhood experiences of the author. When her family moves from Iceland to Edinburgh, Elsa is faced with finding her way in a new culture and a new school. As the “new kid,” she juggles dealing with bullies, romantic crushes, the desire to fit in and the search for a new friend.

Along the way we meet poor and neglected Adelle, Elsa’s first friend who, as Elsa says, was “sending sadness all down the back of me.” In Act II Adelle has a wonderfully touching moment of triumph. There are also the school mistress Miss Campbell, the fearsome bully Frances Green, the smarmy teacher’s pet June McCready with her exclusive horse club and David MacDonald, the boy with the squashed ear who surprises everyone in the song contest.

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Kiss and Cry: Tour de Force at Boston’s ArtsEmerson

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

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Photo: Maarten Vander Abeele

ArtsEmerson recently hosted Kiss and Cry, an extraordinary intermedial production, which blends dance, puppetry, cinema, poetry, the recorded voice, and music – the whole in miniature. A Belgian collective creation, it is the brain child of dancer/choreographer Michèle Anne de Mey and her husband, cinema director Jaco Van Dormael, and developed in collaboration with the set designer, cameraman, image designer, and dancer Grégory Grosjean. Thomas Gunzig wrote the beautiful French script, here translated into English with the voiceover narration performed by Toby Regbo. His melodious voice suits the nostalgic quality of the fantastical love affair that he recounts.

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