August, 2015

Shaw Festival scores with Quebec playwright Bouchard’s conflicted The Divine

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

 

Photo: David Cooper

Photo: David Cooper

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ONT. — There’s no denying that the Shaw Festival’s world premiere production of Michel Marc Bouchard’s The Divine: A Play For Sarah Bernhardt makes for exciting theatre.

It provides another stunning example of the strength of the festival’s celebrated acting company. And it offers a further vindication of artistic director Jackie Maxwell’s commitment to find new ways of bringing contemporary dramatists into the festival tent while also continuing to serve the festival’s central mandate of exploring the world of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries.

But while it’s possible to urge anyone who cares about quality theatre to seek out this piece, one also feels obliged to add a caveat of sorts. There is more than one play here struggling to emerge. (more…)

Interesting but Cluttered Staging in The Creation of the World and Other Business

Reviewed by Kat Fournier

Photo: Andre R. Gagne

Photo: Andre R. Gagne

God created Adam and Eve, and on the seventh day he sat back and wondered, “But why haven’t they figured out how to procreate yet?” 9th Hour Theatre Company presents Arthur Miller’s The Creation of the World and Other Business, a story loosely based on the story of Genesis. In this production, director Jonathan Harris sets the story in a clown circus which shifts the story from parable to parody.

The script is far from what one might associate with Miller. Here, Miller does not present his audience with realism, and the story itself does not unfold in a realistic stage-world. Instead, The Creation of the World and Other Business presents an intangible setting (in this case, it is Earth during Creation) where he can examine the nebulous world of morality from a distance. The play presents other-worldly characters struggling with the first-ever moral dilemmas experienced by humankind. God and Lucifer enter many repartees concerning the balance of good and evil, God’s own vanity, and justice. (more…)

I’m Not Jewish But My Mother Is!: Trite, repetitive and clichéd production

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

 

Photo: Steve Martin

Photo: Steve Martin

Something to remember: writing, producing, directing and acting in a play mounted in your own theatre is probably not a good idea. Case in point: I’m Not Jewish But My Mother Is! written, produced and so on by Steve Martin on his own stage. Trite, repetitive and clichéd with a predictably gooey centre, the comedy is a prime example of how being overly involved in something blinds you to its faults.

Not that Martin hasn’t shown talent in many things theatrical. As owner of The Gladstone, he’s produced some excellent shows. As a director, he did a bang-up job in 2009 with David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin, Jr.’s howlingly funny The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol. As an actor, he was first-rate, several years ago, in Stephen Mallatratt’s The Woman in Black at Ottawa Little Theatre, and has since held his own in Glengarry Glen Ross, Noises Off and other shows at The Gladstone. 

But in those cases, he was wearing just one or two hats. With I’m Not Jewish …, he’s wearing them all so there’s no place for anyone with a dissenting view of Martin’s writing or staging decisions, no room for someone to suggest richer character development, no one to notice that maybe all that dancing (and Martin, a professional ballroom dancer, is undeniably fleet of foot) is overkill.

The play’s storyline is simple enough: successful bachelor lawyer Christopher Bloomfeld (Martin) has a stereotypical Jewish mother Rose Bloomfeld (Barbara Seabright-Moore) whose mouth pops into gear before her brain is fully engaged; lawyer also has a curvaceous girlfriend Felix (Bekah Fay) who arrives at his apartment while mouthy mother is visiting unannounced; sparks fly – though maybe not in the way you’d expect; heart-to-heart resolves all. (more…)

Past Reviews