February, 2014

L’homme atlantique et la maladie de la mort: Étrange et délicieux ballet

News from Capital Critics Circle

par Philippe Couture   Voir, 13 février, 2014

Étrange et délicieux ballet

Photo : Yan Turcotte

Christian Lapointe dialogue depuis toujours avec la notion de disparition: pas étonnant qu’il ait trouvé dans l’écriture de Marguerite Duras un territoire fertile pour approfondir sa pensée. Sa mise en scène de L’homme atlantique et La maladie de la mort, perchée entre théâtre et cinéma, est un ballet délicat et délicieux entre l’amour et la mort.

Dans son cycle de la disparition (CHS, Anky ou la fuite et Sepsis) ou dans ses mises en scène orientalisantes des textes de William Butler Yeats, Christian Lapointe a inventé des formes radicales pour sonder l’essence de l’âme humaine et son dialogue incessant avec sa propre disparition. La mort rôde toujours dans le théâtre de Lapointe, mais on oublie parfois que l’amour est aussi dans sa ligne de mire et que la recherce d’amour fait partie intrinsèque de sa réflexion sur la disparition (et l’impossibilité d’une réelle existence au monde). En s’appropriant les mots de Duras, qui flirtent toujours avec la notion d’absence mais beaucoup avec l’amour et la quête de l’autre, Lapointe se dévoile dans une émotion nouvelle et son spectacle, bien que très formel et entièrement articulé dans une tension entre le corps et l’écran, est porté par une délicatesse qu’on lui connaissait peu. Du moins, les mots de Duras le poussent à ne pas lutter constamment contre l’affect et l’émotion, sans toutefois s’y perdre. Un bel équilibre.

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Underbelly: One man show on William Burroughs bounces off the fringes

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Ottawa Citizen February 27, 20140Theatre review: One man show on William Burroughs bounces off the fringes

Jayson McDonald in Underbelly, Photo credit William Beddoe

At one point in underbelly, Jayson McDonald’s hallucinogenic, one-man show inspired by the life and times of mid-20th century American beat writer William S. Burroughs, “Willy” gives us a brief autobiography. He then mimes the famous Burroughs writing technique of cutting up and repositioning phrases, so the original recounting of how he lost his virginity to a prostitute is transformed into “I lost my virginity to mankind.”

It’s a sardonic reflection on his own and all of life — much as the entire show is — and a reminder of how Burroughs’ relationship with normal reality was a loose one. That relationship seems, on the basis of McDonald’s show, to have bothered Burroughs not in the least.

Burroughs was, of course, a junkie and a writer so a readiness to reconstruct reality according to his own parameters isn’t surprising. And because he was also a gifted writer, when Willy starts talking about giant bugs and assorted other creatures that could have slithered straight out of John Carpenter’s horror film The Thing, a dark, even hypnotic lyricism sometimes emerges.

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La Fille d’Argile de Michel Ouellette: le monde piégé des ados où le tragique guette

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Frédérique Thérien et Simon Bradshaw. Photo. Sylvain Sabatier.

L’effervescence dans l’École de La Salle a vite débordé les couloirs de la section « théâtre » pour remplir la salle de spectacles de cette institution où la troupe  La Catapulte nous a offert sa dernière création, La Fille d’Argile. En attendant la reconstruction de son espace, le centre culturel franco-ontarien La Nouvelle scène, le tandem Michel Ouellette (auteur dramatique) et Joël Bedows (metteur en scène) qui nous ont déjà donné d’excellents moments de théâtre  (Le Testament du couturier, Frères d’hiver  etc ), nous retrouvent dans la belle salle de cet espace scolaire avec ce drame d’ados qui capte l’impuissance, la frustration, la rage des jeunes piégés à tous les coups.

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Enron : A Winner All The Way

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

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Photo: Andrée Lanthier

There’s a terrific moment in the National Arts Centre’s production of Enron when we watch a succession of smaller and smaller containers being manipulated in order to demonstrate the art of corporate fraud.

The manipulator is a talented numbers geek named Andy Fastow, played with slicked-down hair and an excess of smarm by Eric Davis. He’s an anxious minion who yearns to be “somebody” in Enron — that’s the notorious Texas energy corporation that came to typify the worst excesses of corporate crime after its 2001 bankruptcy revealed that its purported $100 billion in revenues didn’t really exist.

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Enron: Michael Billington writing for The Guardian.

News from Capital Critics Circle

Royal Court, London 5 / 5 stars

Reviewed by Michael Billington, for the Guardian,  September 23, 2013.

Enron at Royal Court 2009

Samuel West, Tim Pigott-Smith and Amanda Drew in Enron. Photograph: Tristram Kenton

 

After the high praise earned in Chichester, there was always the lurking fear the Enron bubble might burst on transfer. But, although it had more room to manoeuvre at the Minerva, Lucy Prebble’s play and Rupert Goold’s production are so strong that they survive the move. What they vividly offer is not a lecture on corporate madness but an ultra-theatrical demonstration of it at work.

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Enron: Flashy gimmicks fail to hide weak script

Reviewed by Maja Stefanovska

Photo: Andrée Lanthier

Photo: Andrée Lanthier

Lucy Prebble has taken on a lot in her play Enron, about the energy giant whose name has become synonymous with systematic, paneed out corporate fraud. The play tries to cover the rise of the corporation, the characters involved in it, as well as the impact its demise had on the workers. There are raptors representing the shadow companies Enron used to unload its losses onto and there are musical numbers. Add to this  bobble-head president stand-ins and you have a meandering mess of elements that fail to come together in a script that not only takes too much, but doesn’t know what it actually wants to say about its chosen theme. Director Ron Jenkins creates a slick production with some interesting elements, but he was ultimately fighting a losing battle with material that lacked substance. (more…)

Enron: a flashy theatrical kaleidoscope that is highly entertaining.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo: Metro News Fils.

In Enron (the play) the smoke and mirrors of Enron (the company) have been transformed into a highly entertaining and flashy theatrical kaleidoscope.

The energy company went from stock market darling to massive bankruptcy disaster — the largest in American corporate history — in 2001. CEO Jeffrey Skilling may even have believed that his “powerhouse of ideas” and the possibility of trading energy as well as supplying it could keep the company afloat. He may have trusted his CFO Andy Fastow, as they developed shadow companies to absorb and hide Enron’s debt in a system likened to small and smaller Russian dolls, nested inside each other.

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Half Life: OLT Faces a Challenge with Half Life

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

John Mighton’s award-winning play, Half Life, is a delicate piece — a meditation on memory in all its potency and uncertainty and unreliability. We never really know whether Patrick and Clara, these two aging residents in a nursing home, actually knew and loved each other in an earlier time. They themselves may think so, even though their grasp of the past seems problematic. But Mighton’s script suggests that this doesn’t really matter. What counts is that a relationship is now happening; it may seem precarious because Clara’s mind in particular is clouded; it may — as Patrick especially insists — be a renewal of an old love, or it may well be a late-flowering attraction between two people who have in fact never met before.

Director Daniel Brooks, who staged the premiere production of Half Life at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, suggested in 2005 that the play is as much about forgetting as it is about memory — that it is driven by the thesis that we are ultimately defined as much by what we forget as what we can remember, and that time as we normally understand it can be capricious, even irrelevant when it comes to understanding our identity.

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Half Life: A heartfelt, thoughtful production

Reviewed by Maja Stefanovska

Screen-Shot-2014-02-18-at-12.32.00-AM-200x200Half Life isn’t a play that provides easy answers. Indeed, it’s a play that distinctly provides very few answers to the large, often philosophical questions it poses. On the surface, it’s the tale of a burgeoning love between two nursing home residents. Scratch below the surface, though and you realize that writer John Mighton has created a work that transcends its immediate topic to deal with larger themes. It’s a play about ageing and the way our society treats its older members; it’s about memory and the bittersweet process of remembering and forgetting;  and it’s about the way our own psyches and events impact our treatment of those around us. It’s a multi-layered play that requires an understanding of and empathy for not only its themes, but the human spirit. Director Jim McNabb shows he has both in his wonderfully sensitive, thoughtful adaptation for the Ottawa Little Theatre.

Half Life opens with two middle-aged divorcees meeting in the waiting room of a nursing home. Donald (played by Bryan Morris), a scientist specializing in neural research, is there to visit his frail mother, Clara (Marjory Bryce) a ritual he performs almost every day. Anna (Linda Webster) is there to sign in her father, Patrick (Dan Baran), who has of late become depressive and is an increasing danger to himself. When Clara and Patrick meet, the two are drawn to each other and both seem to remember a brief, but meaningful affair between them during the Second World War. The two become increasingly close and fall deliciously, madly in love. However, Patrick, worried about his increasingly frail mother and still reeling from the recent death of his father, is full of trepidation and refuses to consent to their marriage, which has a great effect on both involved parties. (more…)

Red-Eye to Havre de Grace: Edgar Allan Poe’s Voyage into Madness and Death

Reviewed by Jane Baldwin

Sophie Bortolussi as Virginia, Ean Sheehy as Poe. Photo by Johanna Austin.

Sophie Bortolussi as Virginia, Ean Sheehy as Poe. Photo by Johanna Austin.

Red-Eye to Havre de Grace resembles a story that might have been written by Edgar Allen Poe, dealing as it does with his mental degeneration and mysterious demise on October 7, 1849. It is particularly ironic that the death of the author considered the inventor of the detective tale has remained unsolved.

The creators of Red-Eye to Havre de Grace archly describe it as an “action opera.” While an interesting show, there is little action – at least in the usual meaning – and comparatively
little singing. It is more dialogue based with Ean Sheehy, as Edgar Allen Poe, speaking most of the lines, assisted by Jeremy Wilhelm in a variety of roles. Sheehy’s remarkable resemblance to Poe brings an element of realism to an unrealistic play. (more…)

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