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

Oil and Water: Notes after seeing the production at the NAC.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

This is not a finished review because I was off to a  theatre conference in Trois Rivières but this is a play that deserves a comment. Oil and Water is an important narrative that brings much to Canadian contemporary history but the play and especially the staging of the performance are terrible disappointments. How can one find a parallel between  the oppression of miners in Newfoundland the poverty created by the end of the fishing industry, with racism in the United States?. (Continue reading » )

Oil and Water: Clear the Clutter and You Have a Great Story

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.  

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Photo. Barb Gray. Anderson Ryan Allen as the young Lanier.

Clear the clutter and you have a great story. The problem is that the debris is not out of the way until the last section of the show. That is just too long to wait for the many threads introduced in Oil and Water to come together in a meaningful way.

Built around the true story of the rescue of Lanier Phillips, a black sailor whose ship, the USS Truxton, ran aground in a remote Newfoundland community in 1942, Oil and Water moves between past and present. It parallels the experiences of Phillips’ grandmother, a slave, and his teenage daughter, who faces the violent prejudice associated with racial integration in the U.S., with the harsh life faced by Newfoundland coal miners in the1940s.

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À toi pour toujours ta Marie-Lou: une belle production qui confirme toute la modernité de Tremblay.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre, Théâtre français  

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A toi pour toujours ta MarieLou

Richard Bénard en gros plan.

À toi pour toujours ta Marie-Lou de Michel Tremblay, actuellement au Théâtre de l’île à Gatineau (Québec) est un petit chef-d’œuvre de mise en scène. Ce quatuor de voix, les deux filles (Carmen et Manon) et les parents (Léopold et Marie-Louise), mènent simultanément deux dialogues parallèles, dans deux espaces/temps différents où le décor symbolise le drame qui a déchiré cette famille par le passé, et continue à la ruiner. Marquée par les éclairages ingénieux et un paysage sonore puissant qui nous transporte bien bien au-delà de la réalité québécoise, cette représentation cerne un paysage cauchemardesque où tous les personnages arrivent sur le plateau comme des revenants, baignés d’une lumière bleuâtre d’outre-tombe, avant de s’installer dans leurs fauteuils où ils seront relégués pendant tout le spectacle.

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Une vie pour deux: le spectacle le plus durassien d’Evelyne de la Chenelière

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre, Théâtre français  

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Photo. Caroline Laberge,  Evelyne de la Chenelière,  Jean-François Casabonne, Violette Chauveau

Une œuvre troublante dont la trame s’inspire du roman de Marie Cardinal (Une vie pour deux), mais dont le style théâtral semble nous renvoyer à l’univers langagier et dramatique de Marguerite Duras. Un couple, Simone et Jean, passe leurs vacances en Irlande, pays des brumes, des fantômes, des revenants. Ils découvrent le cadavre d’une inconnue sur la plage, encastrée dans le sable, comme un fossile qui cache des secrets. De beaux effets de lumière aquatique transforment le sable en tombeau liquide et installe une étrange magie sur ce monde d’obsessions. . Tout d’un coup, nous voilà en pleine relation triangulaire tâchée de transgressions qui hantent le couple « durassien »  (le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, L’amante anglaise).

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Not by Bread Alone: The Nagala’at Acting Ensemble Company, World’s only Professional Deaf-Blind Theatre Company at ArtsEmerson

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   , ,

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Photo: Avshalow Ahraron.

Not by Bread Alone may be the most unusual theatre experience I have ever undergone. It is a devised piece created by the professional director Adina Tal and the blind and deaf members of the Israeli Nalaga’at Acting Ensemble Company, none of whom had ever appeared onstage before undertaking Light Is Heard in Zig Zag, first performed in 2004 after two years of rehearsal. The Nalaga’ at, whose name means Do Touch, is the world’s only professional deaf-blind acting troupe.

Light Is Heard in Zig Zag, attempted to bring the spectators into the performers’ world, i.e., a world of only three senses. The company’s talent and the work’s uniqueness made it a success that prompted the group to develop their second production, Not by Bread Alone. The eleven performers and their director built on the techniques they had acquired during their first undertaking.

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The Anger of Ernest and Ernestine: Vacant House Theatre presents a fun staging of play

Reviewed by on    Community Theatre  

The-Anger-of-Ernest-and-Ernestine-PosterBeing in love with someone and love are two very different things. The first is a breathless kind of Bora that awakens in you a temporary madness. It’s a volcano of sweet emotion that sweeps you off your feet and prevents you from thinking straight, especially about the object of your emotion. Their every quirk is endearing and every second spent apart from their lips is the worst kind of torture. Love, on the other hand, is what’s left over after this temporary madness subsides. You are suddenly left with a person, annoying quirks, terrible taste in music, and all. (Continue reading » )

Seeds Spins Some Unsettling Variations On the David-Versus-Goliath Story

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  

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^Photo. Courtesy of the NAC

L.to R. Christine Beaulieu, Tanja Jacobs, Eric Peterson.

here’s a memorable moment in Seeds when Eric Peterson, superb in the role of embattled Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser, delivers a passionate defence of farmers’ rights against the overwhelming powers of the genetically modified food industry.

It’s not an elegant moment. Indeed, there’s more than a glimmer here of Oscar Leroy, whose cantankerous presence once enlivened the Corner Gas television series. But in its mingling of anger, despair and futile defiance, it carries its own rough-hewn eloquence. The polemic works but — this is important — only for the moment.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Extraordinary!!!

Reviewed by on    Musical Theatre, Professional Theatre  

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Photo. Gladstone

Let’s cut to the chase: Tim Oberholzer as Hedwig, the title character in the rock opera about a transgendered person whose life and sex change surgery have both gone horribly wrong, is nothing short of extraordinary.

Hard to say what deep well of inspiration Oberholzer pulled this performance from, but he’s a joy to watch as he gives us a big-wigged, drama queen Hedwig who is, in one fell swoop, angry, hurt, curiously hopeful, cynical and one heck of a singer with all the rock star moves.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch. An unrecognizable Tim Oberholzer with star quality is stunning. An exciting and expertly mounted musical show that is not to be missed!!!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.   , ,

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Photo. Andrew Alexander . Tim Oberholzer as Hedwig and Rebecca Noelle in the background as Yitzak .

The Vanity project’s version of this glizty transvestite gender bender musical inspired much by David BowIe’s feminine Ziggy Stardust personality and her (his) tranformation to the male Bowie, shows us  Hedwig , accompanied by  her East German colleagues,  frantically searching  for the other half of her being. The epitome of Post-Wall divided culture, she  takes us through her beginnings in post war torn East Germany in the aftermath of the destruction..bringing together all the music of the period including that of the biggest German and international stars of the time. With her ragingly campy non stop  poetic banter , Mr. Hansel Schmidt  (alias Hedwig)  tells us the story of her personal evolution, her need to leave  East Germany and  her mother, and find freedom. Her escape, thanks to a  throaty voiced male American, her tortuous gender shifting,  closely linked to the  symbolic of a split postwar Germany  emasculated  and  divided by the wall. Identified to other splits such as its destructive German Jewish past. She speaks of   ethnic cleansing,  of post-wall European and American  politics. Her alter ego Tommy Gnossis  taunts her and shines across the way and  brings us into the world of the "Who” bathed in parodies of the later Beatles, Nina Hagen and all the music of the period. Rebecca Noelle (a Johnny Depp look alike) but the lead singer of the local  PepTides group and a magnificent voice that rivals Whitney Houston’s  ( I will always love youuuuuu! ) is Hedwig’s sidekick. There are four back-up musicians  including Stewart Matthews playing lead guitar!! Who would have believed that!! It’s one big surprise after the other.

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Jeux de Massacre: la peste est arrivée à l’Université d’Ottawa

Reviewed by on    Theatre Schools / University Theatre  

Jeu de massacre - Théâtre de la Licorne - UO

Photo: Marianne Duval

Cette production remarquable de l’œuvre d’Ionesco, mise en scène par Sariana Monette-Saillant, sous la supervision de Tibor Egervari, révèle les talents de cette jeune femme ainsi que ceux de l’ensemble des étudiants qui suivent le programme de mise en scène à l’Université d’Ottawa. Monette-Saillant a saisi l’importance d’une vision stylistique intégrée dans l’écriture dramatique et surtout, elle a fait en sorte que cette vision domine l’ensemble de son travail.

Jeux de massacre, œuvre créée en 1970, est un clin d’œil à Artaud, au théâtre en général et à des scénarios apocalyptiques revus et corrigés par un désir de situer la fin du monde dans un grand carnaval scénique.

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