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

Tartuffe: Molière on the Rock

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


Photo courtesy of the NAC.

Dorine (Petrina Bromley) and Tartuffe (Andy Jones0

“Suckin’ on the hind tit” was likely not among Molière’’s catalogue of favoured expressions, but when it’s tossed off in Andy Jones’ hugely funny adaptation of the playwright’s 17th-century satire Tartuffe, which launches the new English theatre season at the NAC, it’s a perfect fit.

That’s because Jones, who also plays the vile religious fraudster Tartuffe for whom the play is named, has set Molière’’s satiric attack on religious hypocrisy in Newfoundland during 1939. It’s a setting that not only captures the vibrancy of Molière’s play with fresh and colorful language (“you’ve got more lip than a coal bucket,” “sweet Jesus in the garden!”), it also brings the play close enough in time and geography to us in Central Canada that we realize again how timeless and universal this attack – and it can be a vicious one – on religious imposters really is.

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You Fancy Yourself: A deft and funny dissection of self-in-the-making; A beatiful and witty play.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


Reviewed by Dimitri and Vildana Stanisic-Keller

Photo of Maja Ardal by  Andrew Alexandre 

In this one-person-show by author/actress Maja Ardal, 11 characters are intermingled in the unlimited creativity of a superb storyteller. . You Fancy Yourself is a deft and funny dissection of self-in-the-making and a poem to the daydream we choose to escape to when reality is intolerable and unwelcoming. “You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play… I tell you, that it is on things like these that our lives depend. ” This quote from Oscar Wilde (Portrait of Dorian Gray) seems extremely appropriate here.

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You Fancy Yourself. A finely wrought recreation of Childhood.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


Maja Ardal. Photo: Andrew Fox

You have to be tough to survive childhood. If you’ve forgotten that fact, Maja Ardal’s solo show, a finely wrought recreation of childhood life in 1950s Edinburgh, will remind you in a hurry.

Semi-autobiographical, the play opens with four-year-old Elsa arriving in Scotland after immigrating from Iceland with her parents. Gregarious, self-possessed and with an outsized imagination (just one of the meanings of “fancy” revealed during the show), Elsa quickly pals up with a neighbouring child Adele whose perennial uncertainty and impoverished life have thwarted the growth in her of those critical childhood allies, fantasy and hope. “Make a wish,” Elsa tells her at one point. “What for?” responds Adele.

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And So To Bed – Peeping at 17th century England through a diary

Reviewed by on    Community Theatre, Musical Theatre  


Photo courtesy of Suzart Productions and Goya Theatre.

A diary, no matter how famous, is bound to focus on personal matters, regardless of its historical context. Therefore, the emphasis of a musical based on that diary follows the personal relationships and the rise and fall of the career of the writer and uses cataclysmic events of the period as a backdrop.

While this is entirely logical, it is a pity that the script of And So To Bed does not (perhaps cannot) devote more time to the political. One of the strongest moments is when Samuel Pepys is torn between expediency and principle — should he support a man he knows to be innocent and risk ruining his career or should he put selfish interest first?

There are other segments through the script that work equally well but none that holds the key to real conflict to the same degree.

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Deadly Murder: Dead copy of format in murderous script

Reviewed by on    Community Theatre  


Photo: Maria Vartanova

Deadly Murder feels a lot like a weak rewrite of Ira Levin’s Deathtrap. In fact, playwright David Foley describes his thriller — originally entitled If/Then — as being in the tradition of Sleuth and Deathtrap.

Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth was written in 1970. Ira Levin’s Deathtrap (last performed at Ottawa Little Theatre earlier this year, during its 100th season) was written in 1978. Both revolve around murderous game playing and shocking audiences when the dead or almost dead come back to life.

The form of Foley’s Deadly Murder, first performed in 2008, is similar. The product is just not as good. So the first question is why Ottawa Little Theatre chose to mount it just six months after its better-version big brother was seen on the OLT stage.

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Sparks: Fires Flicker at the Avalon Studio performance space as NORT opens the new Studio-Theatre on Bank Street.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Poster courtesy of the New Ottawa Repertory Theatre.  Sparks, a new play for a brand new theatre space seems like a fitting choice as the New Ottawa Repertory Theatre opened its 2013-14 season with the work by Doug Phillips, Sparks. NORT performances are usually seen at the Ottawa Theatre School on Picton Avenue in Westboro Village but this time they are one flight up at 738 Bank Street which has been transformed into a modern space for theatre classes as well as an acting space for small theatre productions.

Clearly, the whole evening was in a discovery mode. Sparks takes place in a fireworks factory in Smith Falls, where six workers are re-packing fireworks to be sent around the world. Each worker, two women and four men, has his/her own obsessions, personal problems and they all pour out during that hour long show as they stand behind the packing table putting fireworks in the boxes. Moments with Jennifer Vallence as the provocative Cindy are excellent and the withdrawn Charlie Ebbs, who never eats lunch, creates a sense of pathos that might have gone even further. Tensions build, tempers fly as all the frustrations of this microcosm of the Canadian working class, are thrown back at the “ruling classes”, represented by the owner of the plant, Julie (Annette Cole). Director Paul Dervis fittingly placed her in an office on the upper level of the stage to represent the power that dominates them all and controls their lives.

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The Weir : Conor McPherson’s superb writing given an acceptable production at the Shenkman Centre.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


Photo:Peter Juranka  Cast of The Weir

Irish playwright Conor McPherson has given us a superb piece of writing in this apparently simple play set in a rural pub, and Tara has for the most part given McPherson’s story its rightful due.

The plot is straightforward: four locals and one newcomer spend an evening knocking back a few drinks and trading ghost stories, a couple of them truly chilling. What these folks, all lonely and disappointed to varying degrees, are actually talking about is their own regrets over what might have been and how a community gathering spot like a pub and the sheer grace that we humans sometimes show to each other can make the journey through a dark and sad world a little easier.

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Salves, Compagnie Maguy Marin: A Contemporary Gaze on the Ultimate Destruction of Humanity.

Reviewed by on    Dance  

Salves - Pièce pour 7 interprètes

Courtesy Théâtre de la Ville © photo Christian Ganet

A glowing last supper that explodes in a burst of colour, announces the end of humanity. A reversal of all the Christian symbolism that has penetrated western society as the performers emerge from a fragmented darkness, punctuated by flashes of light, by shadowy moments where dark figures scurry by like rats, where humans are lit as though struck by lightning or bathed in ominous rumblings of machines, and sound bites extracted from a dying culture. Salves by Maguy Marin is a powerful gaze projected on our contemporary world that captures the way we are defiling and ultimately destroying ourselves. This visual sound poem is dominated by Antoine Garry’s sound design, by Alexandre Béneteaud’s lighting design, by the collected efforts of Louis Gros and Pierre Treille with their magnificent props, and ultimately by Maguy Marin’s deeply layered choreography and visual design – a great global retelling of human history.

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