January, 2014

Glib Ending Removes Some Sheen from Detroit

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Detroit Poster

Detroit
Plosive Productions
At The Gladstone

It’s enough to make you think twice about even saying “Good morning” to the guy next door.

Detroit, Lisa D’Amour’s dark comedy about present-day life in the first ring of the suburbs, those subdivisions that sprang up in the 1950s and ‘60s but have lost some of their original neighbourly gloss, is the story of a relationship that opens with goodwill but descends into chaos.

In limning the desolation that lurks behind white picket fences, D’Amour makes clear that a similar malaise infects contemporary life itself.

Plosive Productions’ scrappy and frequently very funny mounting of Detroit — it’s directed by Chris Ralph — marks the Canadian debut of D’Amour’s award-winning play. It tracks the story of an emerging tract-home friendship between Mary (Teri Loretto-Valentik) and Ben (David Whiteley) and their new neighbours Sharon (Stephanie Izsak) and Kenny (the especially good David Benedict Brown).

Ben has lost his banking job and wants to hack out a new career in the jungle of Internet-based financial services, while Mary is an unhappy paralegal and closet boozer. Kenny and Sharon are loose canons, both just out of rehab and more than a little suspect.

Read More at OttawaCitizen.com…

Continues until Feb. 1. Tickets: 613-233-4523, thegladstone.ca.

At Boston’s SpeakEasy: The Color Purple

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

An Engaging, Entertaining, and Thought Provoking Musical

purple_08Boston’s SpeakEasy Theatre has a winning production in The Color Purple, the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize novel. Director Paul Daigneault mounted an energetic, exciting, and even stirring show with a talented cast of singers, dancers, and actors. While the presentation is powerful and follows Walker’s storyline, Marsha Norman’s sanitized and simplified adaptation lacks the depth of the original text.

The play begins in the early twentieth-century South and follows the life of Celie a poor, rural overworked, victimized black woman, understandably lacking all self-confidence and hope. Raped by her stepfather, she has her first child at age 14 and another soon after. He takes the babies from her and only years later does she discover that they are alive and secure. Her mother dead, her babies gone, Celie’s only friend and confidant is Nettie, her pretty, bright younger sister. The stepfather gives the hard-working Celie (along with a cow) to a brutal man she refers to as Mister and who, in turn, abuses her and drives away Nettie with his sexual advances. Alone, with no one to love and no one who loves her, Celie confides in God through letters, the narrative device for the book and, to a degree, the musical. (more…)

Andy Massingham wrote us in the wake of the announcement about the closing of the Ottawa Theatre School

News from Capital Critics Circle

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Photo: Andy Massingham from Yukon News

Dear Alvina and Patrick (and to any you deem to share with);
> As you may or may not be aware,
> I was Artistic Associate with the Ottawa Theatre School for the past three years and was was intimately involved in its creative life. I was in the building or promoting the school on an almost daily basis except when directing or performing elsewhere. With the events of the past week still fresh I felt a strong impulse to give a message from my heart and soul. The views expressed are mine alone and I share them as a passionate theatre lover, creator, artist and life-long believer in dreams and ideas.

What it did…>
> *It introduced me to dozens of young, hopeful artists; many of whom are now working theatre professionals in Ottawa and beyond who are making a huge difference to theatre and thus CULTURE in Canada at a time when it needs it more than ever and deserves to be written about and heard.

(more…)

Working: A Vision Unfulfilled

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

Working production 1

Photo: Mark S. Howard. Entire Cast on stage.

Working, now playing at Boston’s Lyric Stage, is an updated version of Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso’s 1978 musical based on Studs Terkel’s book. Terkel’s 750 page Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, a compilation of interviews with mostly ordinary (read working-class) people, is unabashedly leftist, as is the show.

While remaining faithful in most respects to Terkel’s vision – albeit with fewer characters – Schwartz and Faso (with the help of Gordon Greenberg) inserted several characters and episodes into their new rendition drawn from today’s ongoing economic crisis such as the jobless young who spring from the middle class, cubicle workers, and a hedge fund manager. The original play’s forty characters have been reduced to twenty-five and its numerous actors shrunk to six. At the Lyric Stage, the casting is laudably integrated, reflecting today’s demographics where color and ethnicity are not as limiting as they were thirty-five years ago.

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Twelfth Night Celebration. The Company of Fools inaugurates its 25th Season

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Fools5802303.bin

Restes and Pommes frites…emblematic characters of the Cie of Fools.

Presented by Scott Florence, Catriona Leg, Al Connor and Geoff Mcbride confirmed the “Fools”  reputation as one of the most unique Shakespearean companies in Canada and the third oldest professional theatre company in Ottawa.

RAFFetAttachment.aspx Raff, The Little Prince. latest member of the Company of Fools. Photo. Caroline Phillips.

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Catriona Leger now with the  Company of Fools.

Entering into its 25th season as a creator of playful parodies of Shakespeare’s plays, the Company seems to be investigating new theatrical techniques to respond to a slight shift in its audiences. The first part of the evening was an illustration of a work in progress process hosted by Scott Florence. The challenge they had given themselves was to show us how they are trying to develop interest in those plays on the part of young people, who, in spite of Shakespeare’s cultural cachet, are turned off by that convoluted language and those characters to whom they cannot relate at all.

(more…)

Past Reviews