January, 2014

Mary Prince

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

mary_prince_serieuse_bis (1)Mary Prince
Mise en scène d’Alex Descas
Interprétation de Souria Adèle
Traduction et adaptation d’Emma Sudour et Souria Adèle.

Le paradoxe de ce monologue intense entre deux acteurs caractérise cette production de Mary Prince, le récit d’une femme esclave, originaire des îles anglophones de la Caraibe qui raconte la lutte pour son émancipation à partir du moment où elle arrive en Angleterre. Premièrement, il y a Souria Adèle, la comédienne qui incarne Mary Prince. Son jeu nous fait oublier le personnage comique créé par Mme Adèle (Marie-Thérèse dans Négresse de France) la femme flamboyante « au gros bonda » qui faisait rire les salles entières à Avignon. Mary Prince partage la scène avec le metteur en scène l’acteur Alex Descas (sa première mise en scène d’ailleurs) pour transformer cette rencontre avec la comédienne en véritable dialogue d’acteurs qui trahit un échange chargé d’émotion sur la manière de capter ce personnage, sans nous faire patauger dans le misére pathétique. Mary Prince est, après tout, une femme très forte et la comédienne saisit cette force tout en insistant sur un jeu intériorisé, un ton sobre et un corps presque effacé. Dans cette ambiance de lecture extrêmement raffinée, Mary Prince s’épanouit lentement, doucement et avec beaucoup de pudeur puisque le metteur en scène a pu se se mettre dans la peau de cette esclave qui aborde le récit de sa vie dans tous les détails les plus douloureux les plus honteux, les plus intimes . (more…)

Kim’s Convenience: A corner store well worth a visit

Reviewed by Iris Winston

kims__largeKim’s Convenience
By Ins Choi
A Soulpepper production at the National Arts Centre

In telling how a Korean patriarch and his family overcome the generation gap, Kim’s Convenience also focuses on why Appa (father) is so reluctant to sell his corner store. The money would be welcome, but the store has been the centre of his life in Toronto’s Regent’s Park neighbourhood for so many years. If Kim’s convenience store does not stay in the family, he fades into oblivion.

This charming, semi-autobiographical comedy with depth by Ins Choi, who also plays prodigal son, Jung, revolves around opening to closing on one fateful day. A slight weakness of the script is that the succession and relationship problems are solved a little too quickly for credibility. (more…)

The NAC’s Kim’s Convenience is a delight

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

kims_convenience_06__largeOne suspects that Ins Choi’s delightful comedy, Kim’s Convenience, would work better in the NAC’s more intimate Studio. Designer Ken MacKenzie’s outstanding set will strike a chord with anyone who has ever visited a convenience store — that surprisingly enduring staple of Canadian urban life — yet it seems diminished by the yawning expanse of the NAC Theatre.

We tend to feel distanced from the all-too-real destinies being worked out on stage. And at times, dialogue is scarcely audible — a particular loss when it comes to Paul Sun-Hyung Lee’s otherwise superb performance as Appa, the aging and often exasperating Korean-Canadian patriarch who owns a convenience store in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood. (more…)

War Horse: Le théâtre version Broadway

News from Capital Critics Circle

800240-vu-plus-trois-millions-spectateursCommentaire de Maude Cucchi
le Droit 23 janvier, 2014

«Merci à Jennifer pour son amour et son soutien». «Tout mon amour à ma famille et à mes amis et particulièrement à toi B». «Je t’aime Amy». «Andrew désire remercier son épouse Grace pour son soutien constant et sa patience durant cette tournée»…Et ça n’en finit plus, l’acteur, en apposant sa biographie au programme de la soirée, se croit tenu de remercier le monde entier qui s’est organisé si obligeamment depuis le premier jour pour rendre sa carrière possible.

Ainsi font, par exemple, les comédiens marionnettistes de War Horse (présenté au CNA jusqu’au 26 janvier), et c’est la première chose qu’on lit dès lors qu’on dispose de 5 minutes avant le début de la représentation. Et pour peu que l’on soit arrivé très en avance, il y aurait bien encore à parcourir, mais le lecteur est déjà sur le flanc, et ce serait gâcher une balle. Car la mièvre litanie que nous venons de lire constitue un parfait échantillon du style de War Horse, spectacle pesant et ennuyeux, en anglais et sans sous-titre, qui accumule les clichés de guerre comme autant de vignettes pour manuel scolaire. Le sujet du soir? Les chevaux sur les champs de bataille durant la Première Guerre mondiale. (more…)

Kim’s Convenience: A funny and poignant play

Reviewed by Maja Stefanovska

Photograph by: photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

Photograph by: photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

Ins Choi’s play, Kim’s Convenience, centres on a day in the life of a Korean-Canadian family who owns a small convenience store in a downtown Toronto neighbourhood poised on the brink of gentrification. The play is, not surprisingly, filled with inside jokes and there are even parts of the script performed in Korean. One would expect, then, that the show would work best for a smaller, very specific audience. Yet, the exact opposite has happened. Choi has managed to create a story that is so universal in its specificity in that it captures a part of everyone’s story, even if they don’t happen to be a first or second generation Korean immigrant. Critiquing theatre in Canada, I end up thinking a lot about what it means to create art that is particularly Canadian. The beauty and appeal of Kim’s Convenience is that it manages to capture the essence of Canadian identity, with all its diversity and constant flux, in a small convenience store in downtown Toronto.

We walk in on Appa’s efforts to convince Janet to take over the family business in the absence of his son, Jung (played by the playwright), who ran away from home as a teenager and ended up getting into trouble with drugs and the police. Taking over Kim’s Convenience is the last thing on Janet’s mind, who would much rather concentrate on her budding photography career.

The play’s core really is Appa, the patriarch of the family and a first generaion immigrant, played brilliantly by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee. Stalwart and, at times, endearingly and hilariously intolerant, Appa has a vast knowledge of Korean history, is proficient in martial arts, and, while he sees nothing wrong with gay or black people, he doesn’t hesitate to inform his daughter Janet (a fun and fiery Grace Lynn Kung) that a gay couple won’t steal, though lesbians and black men wearing jean jackets will. It’s a credit to Lee’s acting ability that it is so easy to follow the storyline despite his character’s sometimes hard-to-understand English. Andre Sills, who played a variety of customers and Janet’s love interest, is also brilliant and seamlessly changes from character to character, and from accent to accent.  (more…)

War Horse: Technically Masterful but…

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Warhorse - 16War Horse
Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo. Adapted by Nick Stafford
Broadway Across Canada at the National Arts Centre
National Theatre of Great Britain production

The puppetry is brilliant. The staging is highly effective. The key performances are well executed. Yet, despite all this, it is difficult for anyone who knows the history of the horses used in the First World War to be wholeheartedly enthusiastic about the Tony award winning, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, adapted by Nick Stafford.

As wrenching as Anna Sewell’s 1877 classic novel, Black Beauty, War Horse focuses on one horse. Joey, shown from colt through adulthood, is manipulated by three puppeteers — visible but soon unnoticed by audiences watching the story of his life unfold. (more…)

Grain of Salt at the Mercury Lounge

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Merc-15yearsGrain of Salt
9th Hour Theatre
Reviewed at the Mercury Lounge Jan. 22

Ottawa writer Megan Piercey Monafu pries the lid off the can of organized religion in this new work.

Performed by five actors including Monafu, the verbatim theatre piece is based on interviews with Canadians, both believers and non-believers, about all sorts of religious issues from gay marriage to whether apologies by powerful wrongdoers cut any mustard at all. The text – mostly monologues – is given various settings: in one scene, the speaker is in a restaurant with the other performers miming the role of servers; in another, we watch the actors as they rock to and fro on the Montreal Metro. At one point, the ensemble does a funny doo-wop routine; elsewhere, they sit on the floor drinking wine and earnestly discussing their beliefs. (more…)

Grain of Salt by 9th Hour Theatre Company

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

9thH_GrainofSalt-18x24Grain of Salt
Production: 9th Hour Theatre Company
Script: Megan Piercey Monafu

Art is a form of communication. It communicates ideas with us using a variety of tools. So, while the main rule of communication, in general, is to know your audience, an even more important rule for the art as a communication vehicle is to know your medium. Even the best idea supported with the highest level of creativity will not reach its “target” – that is to say the audience – if the author and the director do not respect the theatre as a specific medium. I understand what The 9th Hour Theatre tried to tell us (or, at least, I think I do): despite our differences, one thing that (should) connect us is love. You may call it God or just Love, but it has to include everybody and be ruled by the natural law of tolerance, respect and understanding. If there are places such as Heaven and Hell (or an idea of such places as symbols of good and evil) – that Heaven should be a granted reward for every good soul. Merit should be based on each individual’s deeds, and not on what has been socially accepted in a certain period in history. I believe that was the message, and I hope that I have gotten it right. (more…)

The Canadian Premiere of Detroit Underlines the Deficiencies of an Over-Praised Play

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Detroit, by Plosive Productions. Left to right: Stephanie Izsak; David Benedict Brown; Teri Loretto-Valentik; David Whiteley

Detroit, by Plosive Productions. Left to right: Stephanie Izsak; David Benedict Brown; Teri Loretto-Valentik; David Whiteley

The pickings must have been pretty slim the year that Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit emerged as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

To be sure, it offers an ample supply of cheap and easy laughs — a potential enthusiastically exploited in the play’s Canadian premiere by Ottawa’s Plosive Productions. Director Chris Ralph’s overwrought treatment therefore does little to lessen the suspicion that this is a grotesquely overpraised work.

There is certainly validity in D’Amour’s dramatic concerns. The decay of inner-city suburbia is a reality in today’s North America. The spectacle of human lives in economic and social dislocation is another. And although it’s scarcely original in today’s cultural climate to write about the death of the American Dream, there are still interesting variations to be wrung from this theme. But you don’t really get them here. (more…)

Rumors: Frenetic farce has its moments

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Rumors at OLT

Rumors at Ottawa Little Theatre. Left to Right: Mike Kennedy, Louis Lemire, Christine Drew, Heather Archibald, Bob Hicks, Joyce Landry. Photo by Maria Vartanova.

Rumors
By Neil Simon
Ottawa Little Theatre

The frenzy of farce can be tiring, but the alternative of moving at a more measured pace generally gives audiences too much time to think about a flawed, illogical storyline. This is likely the main reason that, in the Ottawa Little Theatre production of Neil Simon’s 1988 farce Rumors, director Joe O’Brien has opted for speed, light and high decibels to compensate for the problem of a rocky opening premise. (more…)