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

Good morning Desdemona (Goodnight Juliet): this production never quite discovers its own potential.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


Photo. Julie Oliver

As if Constance Ledbelly, dressed in the drabbest outfit ever and nibbling at a cheese slice in her office as she labours over esoteric academic pursuits and dreams of true love, didn’t have enough problems.

Then her creator, playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald, tosses the hapless assistant professor of English down a rabbit hole that lands her in the middle of William Shakespeare’s Othello and Romeo and Juliet. There Constance, against her will, becomes a character in the plays, getting swept up in everything from old-fashioned sword fights involving doublet and gown-wearing folks to equally old-fashioned romantic dilemmas and inadvertently changing the course of the two plays in the process.

No wonder the poor lady looks a little out of her depth. Constance, played by Margo MacDonald (no relation to the playwright), is the centrepiece of this clever and funny 25-year-old play about a voyage through a time warp. “I’ve only ever gone on package tours,” says the academic at one point, as fearful as she’s intrigued by what’s happened to her. The play is also about self-discovery, about re-emerging from the rabbit hole a fuller and more self-aware person.

Alas, this production of MacDonald’s play never quite discovers its own potential (Read more….)

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliette): Lively, bright and lots of fun.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Photo: GCTC Zach Cousil and  Geoff McBride

Thanks to Ann-Marie Macdonald’s witty, and intelligent script, director Ann Hodges and her cast have shown us what a well written   play this really is.  When the Queen of Academe, Assistant professor Constance Ledbelly is projected into the world of her Shakespearean research, she finds herself interfering with the important moments of the plots of Othello and Romeo and Juliet as she searches for a more transgressive i.e. Feminist reading of the plays where the women refuse to be victims. Thus, the true author of these narratives, and even her own identity, must be revealed…and all this on the eve of Ledbelly’s birthday.

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Christmas Belles: A Turkey for Christmas

Reviewed by on    Community Theatre  


Ottawa Little Theatre is serving turkey for Christmas. Over-stuffed with silliness and garnished with an uninteresting, minimalist set and irritating set changes, Christmas Belles by Nicholas Hope, Jessie Jones and Jamie Wooten (all, according to their bios from the “pre-Wal-Mart South”), this festive theatrical meal was accompanied by a rush of walkouts at opening night intermission.

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Legally Blond, The Musical:Think pink, but see beyond the fluffy overlay

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


Photo. Valleywind productions

Expecting fluff? Then your first surprise is that the script of Legally Blonde, The Musical is equipped with a few skewers and incisive comments alongside the heroine’s signature colour of pink and her dream of love and marriage to a dream guy/jerk.

Among the sideswipes at stereotypes, projecting the appropriate image, social climbing and social niceties in general are a couple of shots at lawyers and the style of musical theatre. Along the way, Legally Blonde, The Musical, book by Heather Hach, music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, laughs at itself, too. And that is why the show is so much fun.

(Continue reading » )

You Should Have Stayed Home : political theatre that tells a good story.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


Praxis Theatre, Toronto. Photo of Tommy Taylor. Photograpyher unknown. Found in the Charlebois Post.


The 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto resulted in everything from a number of international financial agreements (will they actually be realized?) to astronomical costs for Canadian taxpayers (remember the much-pilloried artificial lake?). It also produced riots and, in the case of Tommy Taylor and many others, a mass arrest and detainment for having done nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Sylvia : OTS manages this New York doggy spoof with a certain class.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.  

sylvia2013-09-24-13-53-15  Photo: Origin unknown. Jerushah Wright, Madeliene Hall, and Jeremie Cyr-Cook.

Greg and Kate live in a fashionable condo in New York. Greg is in the process of a mid-life crisis and bringing home a stray dog is one of the symptoms. A. Gurney’s play takes the man dog relationship, uses it to spoof all sorts of contemporary identity issues by having “Sylvia” the dog, played by an attractive young girl (a petulant and talented Madeleine Hall) who talks like a human but who thinks and moves like a dog. The dog becomes a fetish object replacing all that is missing in the husband’s life, the incarnation of a submissive woman which all men dream to possess.

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La Loi de Tibi: L’éveil des damnés de la terre par la Cie parisienne l’Autre Souffle

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre, Théâtre caribéen, Théâtre français  


La Loi de Tibi, de Jean Verdun, traduit en anglais en 2003. Adaptation, interprétation et mise en scène de Jean-Michel Martial avec Karine Pédurand, collaboration artistique de Sophie Bouillot. Une production de la Cie l’Autre Souffle, Paris. 

Depuis Avignon, sur la scène de la Chapelle du Verbe incarné  (2013), on parle de l’excellent jeu de Jean-Michel Martial. Cet espace à Avignon,  intime et  chaleureux,  convenait parfaitement  à l’œuvre de Jean Verdun (Mieux que nos pères, 2001) devenue Tibi’s Law dans la traduction de Robert Cohen , jouée en 2003 aux États-Unis.  La troupe française (la Cie l’Autre Souffle),  a gardé la version américaine du titre car il recèle quelque chose de biblique qui rehausse les propos du personnage quasi shamanique de « Tibi »

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Hamlet (solo): A Party Piece at the National Arts Centre

Reviewed by on    Performance Art  


Photo: Andrew Kenneth Martin.

HAMLET (solo) is a one-man play created by featured actor Raoul Bhaneja and director Robert Ross Parker. It’s a slightly truncated version of Shakespeare’s HAMLET in which Mr. Bhaneja, plays, or rather indicates, all seventeen characters. Working on a bare flat stage surrounded by black drapes and using no props, Mr. Bhaneja wears a simple black long-sleeved tee-shirt and black jeans. The lighting is utilitarian and the house lights are only dimmed to half, so the actor is clearly visible when he moves into the audience.

First let me say that if you’re not pretty familiar with HAMLET, despite the detailed synopsis in the program, you’ll find it confusing. It does provide an ego boost for those in the audience who clearly follow it. Mr. Bhaneja is physically very facile and uses primarily body language to delineate the characters. However in playing all seventeen roles the emotion and depth of the original characters is lost. We’re left with hollow physicalizations. Granted it’s quite a feat of memorization, but so is any solo show. Think, for example, of I AM MY OWN WIFE, A THOUSAND EYES and the work of Pierre Brault. These are solo pieces that present many characters, but with great depth.

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Hamlet (solo): An energetic production of the classic play

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  

Photo by Andrew Kenneth Martin

Photo by Andrew Kenneth Martin

When seeing Shakespeare’s works performed, we just as often go for the spectacle as for the language and poetry. We’re used to seeing multiple costume and set changes and the idea of taking away this display, especially one as seminal as Hamlet, is a great risk and can easily end up leaving the audience disconcerted and bored. Yet, this is precisely the risk actor Raoul Bhaneja and director Robert Ross Parker take in their minimalist take on the play. Bhaneja takes on the gargantuan task of performing all 17 characters in this one man show. It is a testament to both his and Parker’s skill that the production is so fresh and captivating. It is sometimes hard to differentiate the different characters, especially for those not as familiar with the play. However, this happens rarely and, overall, Bhaneja does a wonderful job transforming from one character to the next.

Bhaneja, dressed in all black on a black, empty stage, walks toward the audience, whistling and recreating the cold, blustery opening scene of the famous play. From that moment, it’s easy to get swept up in the action. Each character shines through and the production is choreographed down to the smallest detail, all to great effect. Bhaneja’s performance is mesmerizing and his delivery is fast-paced and modern, all without losing any of Shakespeare’s poetry or linguistic nuance. The team has also very wisely decided to use accents sparingly, which is refreshing and allows the audience to focus on the meaning versus just the delivery.  (Continue reading » )

Hamlet (solo): A show that is tightly executed, and makes every moment count!!!

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


Raoul Bhaneja performs Hamlet. Photo: Andrew Kenneth Martin.

OTTAWA — To tinker or not to tinker, that’s the … well, actually, it’s not a question at all. Anyone who’s going to play Hamlet – and who wouldn’t want to, considering the extraordinary palette of character and situation William Shakespeare has bequeathed us with this play? — has to experiment with the role if he’s to make it his own.

Raoul Bhaneja takes the making to a whole different level by playing all 17 characters, including the title role, himself in this slightly slimmed-down version of Shakespeare’s great tragedy.

(Continue reading » )

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