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

The Heart of Robin Hood: A legend turned on its head at the A.R.T.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  

John Dean, Christina Bennett Lind, Christopher Sieber

Photo, Evgenia Eliseeva.

The American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) is celebrating the holiday season with The Heart of Robin Hood, an updated, highly physical, and comic version of the old chestnut, with a little violence thrown in for good measure. The play, written by David Farr and directed by the innovative Gisli Örn Gardarsson, was first presented at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in England.

Gardarsson, a founder of the experimental Icelandic theatre and film company Vesturport, has staged a number of its widely renowned productions, which, like The Heart of Robin Hood, have been adaptations. In order to achieve a Vesturport-like quality at the RSC and the A.R.T., Gardarsson imported most of his technical team from the Icelandic Company.

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Be a Friend, the Musical: Orpheus Musical Theatre Society has produced a playful packaging of serious content that works for young children.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

be a friend 002  Photo: Barbara Boston. Sammy Skunk (Fabian Santos) and Mommy skunk (Donna St.Jean).

Iris Winston’s award winning play for children, based on the trials and tribulations of Sammy Skunk whose physical difference turns him into a pariah of the Squirrel community, takes on some very serious issues about bullying, racism, prejudice and all the things that young people confront in schools and on the streets of our urban society. The audience of 3 to 10 years olds seemed to be listening intently to this musical adaptation as poor Sammy, (an excellent Fabian Santos who had all our sympathy with his fluffy white tail and oily black nose) sung about wanting so much to fit in after he and his mom (an upbeat and wise momma skunk, played with much warmth by Donna St. Jean) had to move to a new neighbourhood.

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Be a Friend: A Charming Family Musical

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,


Photo. Andrew Simon . Squirrel with Thompson.

Be A Friend, the delightful children’s mini-musical that is Orpheus Theatre’s Yuletide gift to the community, knows how to communicate with its young audiences. It doesn’t talk down to them as it tells the story of a lonely skunk named Sammy and his search for a friend. Without being the least bit preachy, it delivers an effective message against prejudice and for accepting people who are “different.” The opportunity for audience participation is built into Iris Winston’s lively and imaginative book, which is based on her award-winning play, Let’s Be Friends. And a further trump card comes from the songs with their nifty lyrics by Gord Carruth and engaging melodies from Carruth and Bart Nameth.


Same little fellow discovers the set..Photo: Andrew Simon

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The Sound of Music: a Dismal Wrong-headed Revival of this Musical

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

The next time the National Arts Centre English Theatre tackles something like The Sound of Music perhaps it should seek guidance from people who know what they’re doing.

Perhaps someone like Ottawa’s distinguished community theatre group, Orpheus, which has been around for more than a century and enjoys a solid reputation for maintaining professional standards in the staging of its musicals.

The NAC’s godawful treatment of a seminal Rodgers and Hammerstein hit will no doubt have its admirers. After all, familiarity breeds contentment, and there’s no surer way to ensure audience approval than to schedule a show so familiar, so popular, so ingrained in our cultural conscience, that we enter the theatre already humming the music we’re going to hear. Furthermore, there’s nothing like audience participation to ensure a further stilling of our discriminatory senses — hence the invitation we received the other night to sing along with the singers. If audience response seemed somewhat tepid on opening night, maybe that’s because some of the on-stage singing was falling lamentably below basic adequacy.

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Ta Douleur au théâtre français du CNA. Un troublant exercice de style qui assimile la danse à une manière de confronter les névroses

Reviewed by on    Performance Art, Professional Theatre, Théâtre français  


Photo: Ruel.  Artistes Anne Le Beau et Francis Ducharme

La Compagnie Sibyllines, basée à Montréal, explore les rapports entre l’expression corporelle et le théâtre depuis un bon moment. Il suffit de regarder les créations telles que de l’Opéra de quat’ sous, Woyzek, Elles et bien d’autres où le mouvement synchronisé des comédiens devient un langage parallèle à celui de la parole, une tentative d’incarner l’essence même de la création scénique.

Ta douleur est une nouvelle incursion dans la mise en scène du corps qui évacue la parole, ou presque, puisque les quelques citations chuchotées paraissent quasi banales, malgré les références à Pétrarque, au cinéaste algérien Azzedine Meddour et au groupe hip hop indépendantiste québécois Loco Locass. Ce combat entre deux danseurs issus des formations  solides, classiques ou contemporaines,  se transforme en une rencontre passionnante entre un homme et une femme qui exhibent l’expression de toutes les douleurs possibles.

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Undercurrents Festival Returns: a Revised Belly of the Whale, Ridergirl, among many others from White Horse to New York coming into Ottawa for the Festival.

Reviewed by on    Arts News  


Byron Laviolette: Photo from Toronto Festival of Clowns. Coming to Undercurrents in Ottawa.

GCTC proudly announces the line-up for the 4th annual undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream festival in the Studio Theatre of the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, from February 11 to 23, 2014

On December 11,  Festival Director Patrick Gauthier unveiled the line-up of plays for the 2014 undercurrents: theatre below the mainstream


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