February, 2014

Half Life : strong and well cast performances of this award-winning drama by playwright/mathematician John Mighton.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo. Maria Vartanova

The pattern of daily living changes as we grow older. At the core of Half Life are aging and the alterations within and around us.In his 2005, award-winning drama, playwright/mathematician John Mighton draws and reshapes the lives of two generations of protagonists. Anna, an artist, and Donald, a scientist — both divorcees — approach the difficulties of caring for their aging parents from opposite ends of the emotion/logic spectrum, pitting happiness against safety in a seniors’ home environment.

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Enron: the rise and fall of “Enron” takes on too much.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

  OTTAWA CITIZEN February 20, 2014 12:10 AM

Theatre review: Story of rise and fall of Enron takes on too much

Dmitry Chepovetsky who plays Jeffrey Skilling
Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington , Ottawa Citizen

 

The show: British playwright Lucy Prebble’s uber-theatrical revisiting of the Enron scandal which saw the U.S. energy giant vanish in a cloud of bankruptcy dust in 2001 after the corporation’s senior executives played fast and loose with the financial truth. Music, movement and mask – including corporate types sporting raptor dinosaur heads – are part of Prebble’s semi-fantastical look at Enron’s rise and fall, old-fashioned hubris, and moral sleight of hand.

Pros: A shrewd and sometimes very funny look at endemic greed, the illusion of personal invincibility, and individual and collective moral bankruptcy. Eric Davis is especially good as Andy Fastow, Enron’s deluded and vulnerable Chief Financial Officer.

Cons: Arcane details of business operations and federal regulations don’t always make for scintillating theatre. An overly small acting area hems in the enormity of the Enron story as well as this production’s commitment to it.

Verdict: A play that takes on too much and ends up delivering less than it could; a production that doesn’t have enough faith in itself to ever really stretch its wings.

Written by  Lucy Prebble

National Arts Centre English Theatre

At the NAC Studio,  February 17 to March 1. 2014.

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Continues until March 1. Tickets: NAC box office, 1-888-991-2787, nac-cna.ca

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Les mots justes pour dire le conte social: spectacle à la salle Franz Fanon à l’Atrium, Fort-de-France.

News from Capital Critics Circle

9 février 2014

—Vu par José Alpha, metteur en scène et comédien.
j-c_duvergerLa Carte blanche donnée à Jean-Claude Duverger, vendredi soir dernier, par la direction de l’Atrium, a permis de révéler aux nombreux spectateurs de la salle Frantz Fanon, un beau récital « Des mots pour le dire ». Des mots justes, sans emphase, sans détour, ciselés à la pointure des histoires et des contes considérés comme sociaux, et initiatiques, que le comédien, poète conteur et acteur Jean Claude Duverger, transporte avec lui comme des porte-bonheurs depuis les premiers sourires de sa mère, dit-il.
Un pinceau lumineux blafard qui rappelle ces ambiances insolites des histoires en demi-teintes, révèle un personnage attablé, dos au public. Il a en fait la tête posée sur les avant bras, et on comprend qu’il s’est assoupi sur un paquet de feuilles certainement dactylographiées d’où émergera le récit d’une adolescence espiègle façonnée pour partie, par une dame Paulette appréciée pour « ses gros tétés et ses formes généreuses à énerver les messieurs. »

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Undercurrents: The Tashme Project – Living archives from Tashme Productions (Ottawa/Montreal)

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

If you shake your head in dismay at the universally dismal experience of Japanese Canadians consigned to internment camps during World War Two, you’re making the same mistake as those who consigned them to the camps in the first place.
To wit: painting individuals with a collective brush.
That’s one of the messages of this subtle and affecting piece of verbatim theatre by two performers whose families were interned.
Seeking to unlock that part of their heritage, Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa interviewed dozens of Nisei or second-generation Japanese Canadians who, now in their 70s and 80s, were children when interned at Tashme, the largest camp in British Columbia. They then used the Nisei’s own words to fashion a picture of life in the camps and afterward.
That picture is as diverse as human nature itself.
Taking on the voices and gestures of those interviewed, Miwa and Manning – both of them robust actors – show us children delightedly playing marbles, living in freezing shacks with no running water, marvelling at the gorgeous mountain setting, losing parents and siblings to death……..(read more) 

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Theatre+review+Thoughtful+moving+portrayal+depicts+lives+interned/9506311/story.html

Published in the Ottawa Citizen by Patrick Langston

Undercurrents – A Quiet Sip of Coffee. An Animal Parts Production from Toronto/New York.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Published in the Ottawa Citizen, February 14.

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Anthony Johnston, Nathan Schwartz

Photo by Lili Jamali

OTTAWA — Be careful what you wish for: it may lead you into territory where your reality splinters, and you face questions more complicated than you’d ever anticipated.

That was the experience of best buddies Anthony Johnston and Nathan Schwartz — or at least it seems to have been the experience, reality being a moving target in this rambunctious and sometimes very brave play. A decade ago the two, one gay and one straight, were fresh graduates from theatre school wanting work. They wrote a prank letter to a fundamentalist organization in rural British Columbia that had as its mission the reformation of gays. In the letter they asked for funds to develop a new play Never Cry Wolfman.

To their surprise, they were invited to workshop the show, which didn’t actually exist, as long as they participated in gay conversion therapy.

They agreed, and A Quiet Sip of Coffee is the play that resulted from a lark about a play.

Under the direction of Annie Tippe, the two use video, music, improvisation and storytelling to root around weighty issues like authenticity, self-delusion and friendship, mostly staying on this side of the earnestness such topics invite……

(read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/entertainment/GCTC+Undercurrents+Review+coffee+rings+true/9511015/story.html

Ciseaux: A beautiful story told with heartbreaking clarity

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

What a treat! An unbelievable experience such as this, a journey as much painful as it is beautiful, happens only once in a while on the stage. And it happened during the world premiere of Ciseaux, the inaugural project by The THÉÂTRE ROUGE ÉCARLATE, the first out of – I hope – many to come!

The play follows the lives of two schoolgirls during a civil war. Two seemingly completely different destinies become intertwined in a time of chaos by the violent actions taking place around them. The harsh fate brings them together to fight for survival and to bond into an inseparable unity.

Lisa L’Heureux wrote an incredibly moving story about a very turbulent time seen through the eyes of two young girl victims. One was forced to be a child-fighter, an unwilling murderer who goes on pretending that she is a boy in order to protect herself. The other’s life, a casualty of the same madness, is changed from the moment her parents are killed and she is taken prisoner to be made into a sex slave. Events that follow one another logically are set in a perfect frame and told at a perfect pace. (more…)

Broken: Interesting subject lacking depth

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

When William discovers a box of his late grandfather’s memorabilia, his childhood spent in the loving surroundings of home unrolls before his eyes.  He shares his fond memories of that time with the audience, using “the puppetry of objects” technique to help him depict the time. This wise use of technology, coupled with the meaningful use of light, proved to be essential to Fidler’s play, Broken. It added a sense of reality and life to the grandfather who came off as a very creative and wise character.

True, I wanted to learn more about him, his life and how he has influenced William’s growing-up. However, Fidler’s focus was somewhere else. He wanted to tell us about the devastating impacts of Alzheimer’s disease. So, somewhere among many things mentioned – his life with the grandfather, the adventure of being lost in the unknown forest, and the tragedy of dementia – he lost his focus and failed to add a few layers to the story telling. The connection, love, and warmth were not quite there. Parts of the story even felt disconnected, flat, and the performer seems to be unengaged from time to time. Involving the audience and explaining some scenes did not help either – on the contrary – it killed the magic of what was supposed to be very personal and emotional performance. (more…)

GCTC’s This is War is bleak, troubling and resonant

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Left to right, Sarah Finng and Brad Long in the Great Canadian Theatre Company production of “This is War.” Photograph by: Chris Mikula , The Ottawa Citizen

Left to right, Sarah Finng and Brad Long in the Great Canadian Theatre Company production of “This is War.”
Photograph by: Chris Mikula , The Ottawa Citizen

This is War
Great Canadian Theatre Company/Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre
Reviewed Thursday, Jan. 6 by Patrick Langston for the Ottawa Citizen

Why do I do anything?” asks Tanya Young, one of the characters in Hannah Moscovitch’s bleak and troubling This is War. “To distract myself for two minutes,” she answers herself, the words —like a line from a Samuel Beckett play — telescoping the futility, the confusion, the emotional disconnection that is her situation: that of a Canadian soldier in the volatile region of Panjwaii, Afghanistan circa 2008.

Master Corporal Young (Sarah Finn) is one of a Canadian Forces quartet stationed there. Also present is the young, wide-eyed recruit from Red Deer, Alt. Jonny Henderson (Drew Moore). He’s got a thing for Tanya. (more…)

Age of Arousal

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Photo by Lisa Jeans.

Age of Arousal
By Linda Griffiths
Bear & Co.

It is difficult to think of the typewriter as a symbol of liberation. Yet, such apparently was the case in late 19th century England for many single women. And, because women heavily outnumbered men at the time, many were destined to remain single.

So, these women, classed as odd, in both senses of the word, reached for a new place in society.

Their struggle towards a different norm is demonstrated through the five women in Linda Griffiths’ 2007 drama, Age of Arousal. Mary, the aging and cynical ex-suffragette and Rhoda, her young lover run a typing school, where the three impoverished Madden sisters try to type their way to independence. The three are presented as depicting sexual discovery, gender uncertainty and retreat into spinsterhood. (more…)

Powerful THIS IS WAR at GCTC

Reviewed by Connie Meng

Sarah Finn, John Ng, Drew Moore  Photo: GCTC/Andrew Alexander

Sarah Finn, John Ng, Drew Moore
Photo: GCTC/Andrew Alexander

THIS IS WAR by Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch takes a bleak and uncompromising look at individual soldiers under the pressure of combat.  Framed by interviews with an unseen journalist, the four Canadian soldiers look back at an incident that occurred in a remote corner of Afghanistan involving them, Afghan forces and the Taliban. The brief interviews are interspersed with scenes that re-live portions of the incident, some re-running two or even three times from different points of view a la SEVEN SAMURAI.

The cast is uniformly strong.  All four characters are disconnected from both themselves and reality, even the innocent and naïve Jonny, well-played by Drew Moore.  Brad Young gives a subtle performance as the medic Chris, who tries to keep everyone together and ultimately fails.  As the damaged Tanya, Sarah Finn is a strong example of how they have become morally unmoored.  For her, sex serves only as a momentary distraction, as it also does for the Sergeant.  John Ng gives a powerful performance as the complex Sergeant.  His scene with the wounded Jonny shows us another side of this fierce veteran. (more…)

Past Reviews