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

Shrek the Musical. Fine performances from the leads and a standout debut role.

Reviewed by on    Community Theatre, Musical Theatre  

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The highlights of this very ambitious production are fine performances from the lead characters of Shrek and the Donkey and some excellent costumes.

Kraig-Paul Proulx handles the role of the green ogre Shrek with great aplomb and Damien Broomes is simply a delight as his sidekick Donkey.

Among the most attractive costumes are the cleverness of the Donkey’s outfit and the charm of the sunflowers.

Director Sue Fowler-Dacey shows her adeptness at handling the enormous cast, despite some variation of ability among the group (almost inevitable given Suzart’s philosophy of openness to any interested in trying their hand at performing or backstage work.)

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Jesus My Boy at Saint Albin’s. The Christ Story Becomes a Family Narrative.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.   ,

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Photo from St Lawrence Shakespeare Company

This monologue, created in 1998 in England by  author/actor  (John Dowie) and then performed by  Tom Conti at the Haymarket theatre the same year, is now appearing in the Ottawa area thanks to Ian Farthing, better known to us as the director of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott. Yes Mr. Farthing is an actor, who has worked and trained in the UK, has done musical theatre in Toronto and London. Now Farthing has taken on the fairly demanding role of the carpenter Joseph, the father of Jesus, as he tells the story of the nativity and the life of Christ from the point of view of a working class fellow, who happens to be the father of Jesus, as well as a poor Jew living under Roman occupation. That obviously changes his perspective of things. He has a very tolerant and unmacho vision of the Virgin birth which was surprising; he has a decidedly good knowledge of the Torah, of the squabbles between the different Jewish movements cohabiting in Judea at that period, and a pretty good political intuition about the way colonising Romans knew how to manipulate their own colonized, making it fairly easy to get rid of this trouble maker whom they eventually crucified.

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Ethan Claymore : A heart-warming holiday play despite some uneven casting

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

ethan_claymoreNorm Foster’s play, Ethan Claymore, is the heartwarming story of Ethan, a young recluse widower living in a small Canadian farming community who, with the help of a doggedly determined, meddlesome neighbour and the ghost of his recently-deceased brother, finds a meaning to life and love just in time for the holiday season. Foster’s earnestly honest writing crafts a story with depth and feeling and keeps it away from the realm of cheesy or gimmicky. The play, under John P. Kelly’s direction for the Gladstone, is simple, sweet, and without pretense. The director manages to infuse the production with the charm and warmth found in small communities and that is central to the play. The atmosphere is sometimes thrown off by the uneven acting and some of the casting choices didn’t make all that much sense. However, other than that, this is a great, feel-good holiday piece that can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Ethan Claymore (played by Tim Oberholzer), an artist at heart who moved to the community years ago to live “the simple life” has been mourning his dead wife for five years. He secludes himself and buries his head and heart into his failing egg farming business. That is, until determined, curmudgeonly neighbour Douglas (Paul Rainville) takes matters into his own hands by setting Ethan up with the new schoolteacher, Teresa (Sarah Finn). Add to this a surprise visit form his very recently deceased brother, Martin (David Drisch) to resolve deep-seated family resentment, and we see Ethan slowly open himself up to the possibilities of life and love.

John P. Kelly manages to get the pacing of the show just right. It flows along and keeps the audience’s attention throughout. There’s also a sweetness and lack of pretention to it that makes the story and characters all that much more relatedly human. The set is functional and homey and the cast uses the stage well. Particularly good were moments when Martin’s ghost, only seen by Ethan, is in the room with others. The almost a dance-like preciseness of moments mimic the pace of the play.    (Continue reading » )

Ethan Claymore : a nuanced and observant production for Same Day Theatre that underlines the play’s strengths.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

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Poster for the production found on http://www.theatreottawa.com/professional-theatre1.html   Norm Foster’s Ethan Claymore is a piece of Yuletide whimsy about a widowed egg farmer and the shade of a recently deceased brother who’s been detained on earth to make peace with the sibling from whom he has been long estranged.

This is the sort of play where you are able to anticipate how things are going to end long before the final curtain. It is, unabashedly and unapologetically, a feel-good script that knows the right buttons to push in winning an audience over. 

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MIes Julie at the Boston ArtsEmerson: Passion, Violence and Love in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   ,

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Photo by Roger Bosch. Bongile Mantsai as John and Hilda Cronje as Mies Julie

Mies Julie, director and playwright Yaël Farber’s adaptation of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, is a striking piece of theatre, which retains the basic plot, principal characters, and many of the ideas of the original, while transposing it to a very different world. Strindberg’s nineteenth-century Miss Julie takes place on a Swedish estate on Midsummer Eve, a time of unbridled fun, one which creates a space for the brief affair between Julie and the valet Jean.

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The Sound of Music at the NAC. a Fresh and Invigorating Production.

Reviewed by on    Musical Theatre, Professional Theatre  

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Photo. David Cooper

Maria, we learn early in this fresh and invigorating production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s famous musical The Sound of Music, wears curlers beneath her wimple. She’s a postulant, a kind of nun-in-waiting at the time and a burr beneath the abbey’s saddle, her hunger for life too big for the constraints of a black-and-white habit.

As everyone who’s seen The Sound of Music knows — and our numbers are legion thanks to the award-winning stage show which premièred in 1959 and the equally awarded mid-’60s film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer — Maria chucks the head gear. In the process, she unveils her true self and that of the von Trapp family, the motherless gang of seven that Maria joins first as subversive governess and then as wife of Austrian war hero Captain von Trapp.

(read more….)

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/Theatre+Review+Sound+Music+production+breathes+fresh+life+into+familiar+musical/9258293/story.html

Hommage à Jean-Louis Roux

Reviewed by on    Arts News, Professional Theatre, Théâtre français  

Professeur Tibor Egervari,  l’Université d’Ottawa

Un héros et un honnête homme

On appelle âge héroïque d’une activité humaine la période des commencements, celle où tout est encore possible et où l’acte de fondation est l’œuvre de héros dans le sens mythique du terme. Jean-Louis Roux, qui vient de disparaître, fut l’un de ces héros du théâtre québécois, voire de tout le théâtre canadien.

Sa biographie, disponible ailleurs, rend compte d’une vie longue, riche et intense. Personnellement, je ne veux qu’exprimer l’immense gratitude que toute personne touché par le théâtre doit à ce héros, notre héros. Nous lui devons une certaine idée du théâtre et du service public, car la contribution de Jean Louis Roux ne se mesure pas seulement par l’aune de la quantité des réalisations ou par leur qualité artistique. Elle est aussi, et pour moi elle est surtout, dans la façon exemplaire de probité, d’ouverture et d’élégance avec laquelle Jean-Louis Roux a exercé son art pendant plus de sept décennies.

Convaincu de la justesse de ses idéaux, il n’a jamais transformé l’adversité en haine ni l’opposition en mépris. Sur le plan professionnel il savait reconnaître et soutenir le talent, même aux dépens de sa propre orientation esthétique. Il était de ceux qui croyaient profondément en la confrontation bénéfique des idées et des visions artistiques. Ses qualités, nourries par sa vaste culture, ont fait de lui une des rares réincarnations modernes de ce qu’on appelait au XVIIe siècle, un siècle qu’il aimait tant, un honnête homme. C’est donc en honnête homme que Jean-Louis Roux, le héros, a fait du théâtre. Un précieux exemple dont nous lui sommes infiniment reconnaissant. Merci monsieur Roux, merci Jean-Louis.

The Sound of Music a the NAC: some staging choices and casting issues spoil the show for this reviewer.

Reviewed by on    Musical Theatre, Professional Theatre  

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Photo: Marnie Richardson.  Eliza Jane-Scott as Maris on Parliament Hill

A production of The Sound of Music conceived as more akin to a pantomime than straightforward musical theatre might appeal to some.

The singalong invitation offered at the beginning sets the tone. Such tricks as a deep-voiced male in drag as a nun in the opening section signal the style. Later, an even cheaper trick of having the Nazi admiral with a Hitler look-alike hairstyle is more irritating.

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Ethan Claymore : a warm feel-good family show that is just right for the Christmas Season

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

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Tim Oberholzer as Ethan Claymore. Photo: Andrew Alexander

A feel good story of complicated family relations, headed by the shy, retiring, slightly recluse Ethan Claymore who has withdrawn from social life for five years because of his wife’s death. Thanks to a well-intentioned interfering neighbour, a caring school teacher and a ghost seeking redemption, he is dragged out of his state of mourning and brought back to life. Paul Rainville plays the volatile, hilarious neighbour Douglas Mclaren, , bristling with energy, excitement and with just as much chili pepper as they put into that hot chocolate that was served after the show. Rainville stole the show hands down. No matter however, because we know that when Paul Rainville makes his moves on stage, he overflows with so much temperament and stage magic that no one can overcome his presence. This time was no exception.

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Needles and Opium: the paradox of promise and pain at the CanStage Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre, Théâtre français  

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Lepage’s Needles and Opium begins with a paradox, that of acupuncture points that when activated by needles relieve pain, but were discovered in the search for maximum effect during torture. However, the more exquisite paradox of Needles and Opium is present in the dislocation of the human heart as it searches for relief from the suffering of love denied, suspended in the space between longing for the object of one’s desire and the knowledge that such love is now forever beyond reach. Remembered love holds both promise and pain. Thus begins a journey through space and time of the tortured soul buffeted by the physical and emotional gravitational forces of memory and longing.

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