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

9 to 5 : An Orpheus production of a musical that is sadly passé.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


Photo: Valleywind Productions

9 to 5, The Musical is a reminder of the social restrictions of a past era, but sadly, much about this musical, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, is passé too.

In its first incarnation as a 1980 movie starring Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, it worked better than it does as a stage show full of short sequences and abrupt scene changes that recall the style of film. Little wonder that the recycled musical had only a very short run on Broadway in 2009.

While Parton’s autobiographical Backwoods Barbie and the title song are catchy, most of the rest of the music fades from memory as quickly as does the weak book by Resnick (who also wrote the movie screenplay).

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Art: A strong trio of actors takes on Yasmina Reza’s playful torture of the French Bourgeoisie.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


Robert Marinier, David Frisch, Andy Massingham (on the floor)

Photo: Julie LeGal .

Yasmina Reza loves to torment the Parisian bourgeoisie, so well ensconced in its own particular snobbisms, its cultural traditions and prejudices. However, these people are also her theatrical audience so she does not want to insult them. Thus while teasing her (French) spectators, she shows that her special brand of middle class boulevard theatre also confirms the breadth of her audience’s cultural background. – An excellent strategy to keep the audience in a good mood and keep it laughing at itself. The play Art is such a double edged weapon in her theatrical dialectic and since Mme Reza’s plays are so well constructed, and her dialogue is so sparkling, they still make for an amusing evening of theatre.

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The Door of No Return: Performing Colonial Memory.

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


Reviewed by Kat Fournier

Photo: THE DOOR OF NO-RETURN, Democratic Republic of Congo. © Philippe Ducros, 2010

La porte du non-retour (The Door of no return) refers to monuments on the west coast of Africa erected in memory of the millions of slaves deported from Africa to America. Once they passed through the door, they knew that they would never come back. Director and photographer Philippe Ducros presents his  life-changing trip to the Congo in the form of a  multi-media photo-exhibition that  converges with  history, storytelling and landscape  to become a haunting narrative related to the slave trade.

The event  presents the story of a Canadian man who  visits  the Congo to witness the shattered world left in the wake of its  colonial history. Two voices guide the tour: the male voice represents Philippe Ducros, the female voice  represents his girlfriend who corresponds with him from Canada.  In the scope of this piece, she represents the safety and comfort of home, and ultimately the naivety of the distant observer. While she stays home, reaching out to him through letters or phone calls, he is drawn further into a nightmare from which he cannot wake.

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Driving Miss Daisy: A Smooth Ride at the 1000 Islands PLayhouse in Gananoque

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Walter Borden as Hoke & Nicola Lipman as Miss Daisy .  Photo: 1000 Islands Playhouse

The 1000 Islands Playhouse has opened its season in the Springer Theatre with a solid production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Driving Miss Daisy” by Alfred Uhry.   “Driving Miss Daisy” begins in 1948 and spans 25 years in the lives of Daisy Werthan, a feisty Jewish widow, her son Boolie, and Hoke, her new African-American chauffeur hired by her son.  It’s a play about ageing, tolerance, understanding, friendship and ultimately love.  Daisy’s relationship with Hoke begins when Boolie has to deal with the universal dilemma of what to do about an elderly relative who shouldn’t drive.  A series of fairly brief scenes, separated by varying lengths of time, follow this evolving relationship over the course of the twenty-five years. “Driving Miss Daisy” balances sadness with humor and Daisy’s anger at ageing with Hoke’s infinite patience and capacity to listen.

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Art: Good effort, but ultimately a tiresome play

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  

artYasmina Reza’s play Art explores the nature of modern art and friendship and exposes the equal strangeness and subjectivity to be found in both. Same Day Theatre’s production of the play, translated by Christopher Hampton, has some great comedic moments, but overall comes off as a bit tedious and pretentious. Although on the shorter side, it dragged on by the end.  (Continue reading » )

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: This Suzart Production radiates infectious joy.

Reviewed by on    Community Theatre, Musical Theatre  


Photo: Alan Viau

The joy emanating from the stage is so infectious in the Suzart Productions presentation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat that you overlook problem areas.

Never mind that the lighting operator has trouble focusing, periodically leaving Joseph and the Narrator in darkness at the beginning of their numbers. Never mind that several of the performers did not dispense with their spectacles before portraying folks in Ancient Egypt. It is not even a downer that poor enunciation makes some of the lyrics hard to understand or that not all the movement of chorus members is as crisp as it might be.

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Inherit the Wind: this fictionalized account of the “Scopes Monkey Trial” still provides an eloquent defence of tolerance in a sea of bigots.

Reviewed by on    Community Theatre  


Poster from Kanata Theatre.

The central argument of Inherit the Wind should be irrelevant today. Sadly, it is still front and centre.

Last week, a University of Saskatchewan professor was fired following a public disagreement with the university president. That the decision was later reversed after a firestorm of negative reaction does not alter the threat to freedom of speech in academia today.

Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee wrote Inherit the Wind in 1955, during the McCarthy era and the U.S. witch hunt to root out any vestiges of communism (real or imagined), thereby adding further texture to a drama that puts the right to think on trial.

Add to this that close to 50 per cent of Americans still say Darwin was wrong and Creationists who take the bible literally are right, little appears to have changed in the Bible belt’s view of the world. The Butler Act, which made it illegal to teach that human beings were descended from a lower order of animals, was not repealed in Tennessee until 1967.

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Sontag: Reborn: A History Lesson in Multimedia at ArtsEmerson’s Paramount Theatre

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Moe Angelos as Susan Sontag. Photo James Gibbs

Sontag: Reborn, the second production the Builders Association has brought to ArtsEmerson this season is another intermedial piece. Like its predecessor, Sontag: Reborn relies heavily on video to tell its story. Unlike its predecessor, House Divided, a drama of many characters, complex setting, and numerous incidents that revolve around the Great Depression and the Great Recession, Sontag: Reborn is a dialogue with one character.

Joshua Higgason’s simple setting, consisting of a wide rectangular desk covered with various and changing props, a scrim in front of it and a screen behind with a camera above; Laura Mroczkowski’s varied lighting; Dan Dobson’s sound design; and Austin Switser’s brilliant video work bring vivid life to a piece that had the potential to bore.

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Rona Waddington will be the new artistic director of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival

Reviewed by on    Arts News   ,

Hamlet1GetAttachment.aspx Rona Waddington and Eric Craig (Hamlet, summer 2013)

The Board of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival is delighted to announce the appointment of Rona Waddington to the position of Artistic Director, commencing in December 2014.
During a four month search and interview process, during which 18 candidates from across the country were considered, it was clear that Rona brought a wealth of outstanding experience to the table, together with a passion for Prescott gained during her time with the Festival last summer, when she directed Hamlet. This production was honoured with the Capital Critics Circle Award for Best Director.

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Oil and Water: A long time getting started!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Reviewed May 16 for the Ottawa Citizen . Photo by Barb Gray.

Clearly, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Take the true story of an African-American sailor named Lanier Phillips, who was shipwrecked on the shore of St. Lawrence, Nfld. in 1942. Blend in the troubled lives of fluorspar miners and their families in that same small, isolated village. Occasionally fast forward three decades to when the now-older Phillips is encouraging his young, scared daughter as she endures the often-terrifying integration of Boston schools in 1974. Add music rooted in spirituals and east coast folk tunes. Then underpin everything with themes of transformation, exploitation and basic human decency.

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