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

Richard III de Brigitte Haentjens. : Une créature archaïque qui émerge des bas-fonds de l’humanité.

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


Photos du Théâtre du nouveau monde.

Brigitte Haentjens, l’actuelle  directrice artistique du Théâtre français au Centre national des Arts à Ottawa,  produit, depuis fort longtemps, une esthétique de la souffrance en puisant dans des consciences troublées.  Depuis 1999, elle accompagne l’immigrant de Koltès (la Nuit juste avant les forêts) attaché à la voie ferrée  hurlant  son désespoir et sa solitude.  Elle offre  la scène  à Malina, personnage d’Ingeborg Bachmann, hanté par le cauchemar d’un père, ancien Nazi, qui chercherait à exterminer  sa fille dans  la chambre à gaz. Elle suit la descente vers la mort de la poétesse Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar), hantée par l’image d’un père  qui  alimente son impulsion suicidaire, sans oublier le calvaire d’Ian (Blasted de Sarah Kane)  au moment de la guerre en Yougoslavie. 

(Continue reading » )

The Double: from Dostoevsky to Adam Paolozza…!!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Photo from the Tarragon Theatre.

A great mastery of physical theatre sets Bad News Days Productions apart. Done as a play within a play in various times zones but originating in the present, it resembles a cabaret performance where three very talented young men perfectly trained in the art of mime, circus techniques, mimicry, tell the story of a Mr. Golyadkin, a simple office clerk who lives by himself, who has strange, troubled dreams , who is stressed by the behaviour of his office colleagues who appear to make fun of him; There is also the behaviour of his fiancé who breaks off their wedding. Is he really fleeing from himself? Is he so totally alone, abandoned by all humanity?. Perhaps, but Golyadkin continues on bravely. He eventually comes in contact with his pesky double –his shadow on the wall, or is it the other narrator playing the acoustic bass who appears to be feeding him his lines? This double taunts the older fellow, he disappears and reappears, he interferes with his office relations, and he shows up the older Golyadkin until the poor man can’t take it anymore. It all takes place under the stress of the terrible Kafka-like bureaucracy in Saint Petersburg in Russia. A medical doctor comes into the picture (no psychiatry at that

(Continue reading » )

Un obus dans le coeur » : mort et renaissance dans le silence de la mère

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   ,

  Commentaire de Roland Sabra, paru dans








C’est un Unmoment d’émotions d’une rare intensité que nous a offert Hassane K. Kouyaté en programmant Un obus dans le coeur, le magnifique texte de Wadji Mouawad interprété par Julien Bleitrach qui signe la mise en scène avec Jean-Baptiste Epiard. C’était une nuit. Une nuit de rage. Une tempête sur la ville et dans la tête. Il neigeait et elle agonisait sur un lit d’hôpital.   (Continue reading » )

The Hard Problem: Challenging, Amusing and Intelligent but not Stoppard at his best.

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   ,


Photo by John Persson .  Olivia Vinall as Hilary.

As patrons shuffled out of the Cineplex theatre in Ottawa Thursday evening, after th NTL showing of The Hard Problem, the new play by Tom Stoppard, his first play since 2006 (Rock’n Roll) and the first for the National Theatre since his Trilogy The Coast of Utopia in 2002, the general impression seemed to be exactly what was mentioned in the title of Michael Billington’s review , published in “the Guardian” January 29: “the work occasionally suffers from information overload”, something which would not be difficult to document, especially if one had the text on hand . Clearly without the text, most of the details of the arguments are difficult to retain.

As well, the vocabulary is always taken from areas of specialisation as they are bantered back and forth by these scientists who are all specialists in their own fields: cognitive science which is questioned as a science, evolutionary or behavioural biology; genetics, analysis of the brain are linked to science as opposed to the study of the mind. The study of the mind is not a science whereas the study of the brain is linked to human biology and is a science. If this is so, how does one experiment on human consciousness? How does one analyse the “mind”.which has no material substance? Later the question arises related to the fact that materialsm is a philosophy, does that mean it can be put in the same category as the belief in God? Is that scientific?  And the ideas roll round in the laboratory and board rooms of the KROHL institute of Brain Science where all these nine characters find themselves, employees or students in this research institute, where they are trying to define human consciousness.

(Continue reading » )

Dirty Dancing: Just sit back and enjoy!!!

Reviewed by on    Musical Theatre  

If you saw the 1987 movie, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, then you know exactly how Dirty Dancing will play out on stage.

In many respects, the aim of the touring production currently at the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall, seems to be to reproduce the movie — hence the many scene changes and the use of video effects to deliver fields of waving grass, watery playgrounds and, of course, projections of dancers.

Despite the note in the program that the stage show contains a number of songs that were not included in the movie version, the film trumps the stage show, primarily because on stage the flimsy nature of the dated book is more evident.

But, as long as you understand that a show whose most famous line is “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” is unlikely to have a complex and meaningful script or message and that there will be only passing references to major events of historical importance, you can just sit back and enjoy a blast of high energy, some good dancing and a couple of fine singers. Soloists Doug Carpenter and Jennlee Shallow do a particularly fine job.

(Continue reading » )

Pontus Lidberg brings grace, beauty and new visions of the dance to the NAC

Reviewed by on    Arts News, Dance  


Photo: Bunraku puppetry…

Pontus Lidberg Dance – Written on Water and Snow

The exciting Swedish dancer, choreographer and filmmaker, Pontus Lidberg has a long list of impressive accomplishments in all the above-mentioned fields , working with theatres and companies around the world.  He gives us beautiful as well as challenging creative moves with the human body. A magician who molds and choreographs his lithe corporeal instruments, most of whom appear to have serious balletic training which produces an extraordinary sense of discipline and breathtakingly supple interaction and a multitude of possibilities to be somatised on stage.


Photo: Petrus  Sjovik.  Snow. with dancer and puppeteer.

Written on Water was originally conceived as a pas de deux for the American Ballet Theatre. The plucking , sounds coming from Stefan Levin’s music, that seem to emanate  from industrial material working overtime in an urban setting, form a powerful soundscape that accompanies the two movements of this first piece. The two male dancers, Barton Cowperhwaite and Pontus Lidberg flow together in liquid harmony as they communicate competition, domination, eroticism, submission, disdain and various emotions and competitive stances, always entwined in abstract movements where the ballet base is redefined by modern steps, gestures, and corporeal choices, all conforming to the music, much in the style of Balanchine’s work. The second part of this show brings us back to a pas de deux with a man and woman where the classical balletic style conforms to a more traditional even lyrical vision of that dance form, in keeping with the traditional vision of the mixed gender couple . Nevertheless, there was always a flowing, sweeping grace that accompanied their work that gave one the sense it was all something new.

(Continue reading » )

Venus In Furs Explores The Dark Side at the Gladstone

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre  


Photo. Maria Vartanova. David Whitely and Chandel Gambles.

There are those who will no doubt be attracted to a new Ottawa production of Venus In Fur by some of the hype surrounding it — the promise of titillating sexual mind games and the opportunity to ogle one of the characters in various stages of undress.

There will also be some who will insist on applauding David Ives’s Tony-Award-winning Broadway hit as no more than an entertaining sex comedy cheeky enough to probe some of the darker recesses of sado-masochistic culture. Indeed, it’s scarcely surprising that Venus In Fur is being produced all over the place these days — not always for reasons necessarily artistic. Sex sells — especially the naughtier brand that on the surface drives this play. So the guffaws and giggles that Plosive Productions is generating from the show now on view at the Gladstone are perhaps inevitable. But let it be noted that the laughter begins diminishing as the play reaches its creepy, identity-bending conclusion — and this reflects the virtues of Catriona Ledger’s production and the often brave performances of David Whiteley and Chandel Gambles.

(Continue reading » )

Lipsynch au Festival TransAmériques : le théâtre de Robert Lepage et l’ouverture vers le monde.

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage, Theatre in Canada  

Le théâtre québécois s’inscrit désormais dans le réseau des théâtres des Département français des Amériques, depuis que certains artistes ont entrepris des collaborations qui ont fécondé la créativité de part et d’autre. Notons la collaboration exceptionnelle entre Denis Marleau (directeur artistique du Ubu, compagnie théâtrale, Montréal) et José Pliya (Etc Caraïbe, C.D.R. l’Artchipel, Guadeloupe); entre la compagnie de José Exélis (Les Enfants de la mer) et Stéphane Martelly (Départ); entre Diane Pavlovic (de l’école nationale du théâtre à Montréal) et l’Association Textes en Paroles de la Guadeloupe; notons encore plus récemment, la collaboration entre le metteur en scène Sylvain Bélanger (de la troupe québécoise Théâtre du Grand Jour), l’acteur Erwin Wache d’origine haïtienne mais formé au Québec, et le dramaturge martiniquais Bernard Lagier dont la pièce Moi, Chien Créole est déjà programmée pour la rentrée 2007-08 sur les scènes à Montréal et à Ottawa. Et…nous venons d’apprendre que Ruddy Sylaire jouera le rôle principal dans la nouvelle production d’Othello, mise en scène par Denis Marleau. Rien d’étonnant de ces rencontres artistiques entre le Québec et les D.F.A. Plutôt, on se demande pourquoi elles ont mis si longtemps à se réaliser étant donné les affinités linguistiques entre les régions.

(Continue reading » )

Pontus Lidberg Dance at the NAC. Snow and a Canadian Premiere – This Was Written on Water. .

Reviewed by on    Dance   ,


Photo from the NAC

April 10, 2015 – OTTAWA (Canada) Sweden’s rising star choreographer Pontus Lidberg makes his NAC debut with a new creation, the breathtakingly poetic Written on Water, as well as his 2013 masterwork, Snow. This is a Canadian premiere and an exclusive Canadian engagement. Pontus Lidberg Dance performs in the Theatre of the National Arts Centre on Tuesday April 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Set to an original score by Stefan Levin, Written on Water was originally conceived as a Pas de Deux for American Ballet Theatre principal ballerina Isabella Boylston and premiered at New York City Center’s Fall For Dance Festival. This beautiful work has now been expanded to include three dancers.

In Snow, choreographer Pontus Lidberg performs with three other world-class dancers and a lifelike, highly expressive Japanese Bunraku puppet, for this turbulent composition set in a ceaseless snowfall. Snow contrasts the fleeting and fragile human reality of existence with the enduring character of nature. The work was commissioned by NorrlandsOperan, the opera house of northern Sweden, for its 2013 centenary presentation of Stravinsky’s score The Rite of Spring. With influence from this famous classical work, Snow currently features an original score by Ryan Francis.

ChoreographY Pontus Lidberg

MUSIC Stefan Levin




Choreography and SET AND VISUAL DESIGN Pontus Lidberg

COMPOSER Ryan Francis


LIGHTING DESIGN Carolyn Wong, after the original design by Patrik Bogårdh

PUPPET DESIGN and DIRECTION Kevin Augustine, The Lone Wolf Tribe

WORLD PREMIERE September 21, 2013



Internationally acclaimed Swedish choreographer-dancer Pontus Lidberg was trained at the Royal Swedish Ballet School. He has danced with The Royal Swedish Ballet, The Norwegian National Ballet, Le Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, and The Göteberg Ballet, among others. Pontus Lidberg has been making dances for stage and film since 2000. Most recently, he produced WITHIN (Labyrinth Within), during his tenure as Resident Artistic Director of Christopher Wheeldon’s company, Morphoses. Mr. Lidberg has been commissioned to create over 30 new works for such companies as The Royal Danish Ballet, The Royal Swedish Ballet, The Beijing Dance Theater, and Vanemuine Ballet of Estonia, as well as for his own company, Pontus Lidberg Dance (founded in 2003). Pontus Lidberg was awarded New York City Center’s prestigious Choreography Fellowship in 2012-13.


Sweden’s Pontus Lidberg Dance perform Written on Water and Snow in the Theatre of the National Arts Centre on Tuesday April 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $40, $45, $53, and $61 for adults and $22, $24.50, $28.50, and $32.50 for students (upon presentation of a valid student ID card).


Groups of 10 or more save 15% to 20% off regular ticket prices; to reserve your seats, call

613 947-7000 x634, or e-mail

Tickets are available for purchase:

· in person at the NAC Box Office

· at all Ticketmaster outlets *

· by telephone from Ticketmaster, 1-888-991-2787 (ARTS)

· online through the Ticketmaster link on the NAC’s website ( *

More posts