October, 2015

New and emerging artists showcase a medley of theatrical concepts at Fresh Meat 4

Reviewed by Kat Fournier


Ottawa’s Fresh Meat festival leads audiences through an evening of raw, risky and experimental theatre from new and emerging theatre artists. Over two weekends, and featuring two entirely distinct programs, this showcase of roughly twenty-minute trial by fire shows brings creativity to the foreground. Above all else, this is a testing ground for the next generation of artists.

Fresh Meat provides a rare opportunity for theatre markers. It is what a “staged reading” might be for non-text based theatre. And just like at a staged reading, while the shows may lack technical polish, they bring plenty of inspiration. From performances based off of found text, to poetic soundscapes, and even entirely improvised plays, Fresh Meat 4 is all about artistic variety.


Next to Normal: Indie Women productions triumphs at Centrepoint!!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photo: Mike Heffernan.  Skye MacDiarmid, Derek Eyamie, Jeremy Sanders.

Singer-actress Skye MacDiarmid, repeats her amazing portrayal as Diana, a bipolar mother suffering from a combination of affective disorders including depression and PTSD as the result of the early death of her son Gabe. MacDiarmid again takes over the stage this time in the Centrepoint studio, just as she did last year at the Gladstone theatre. Her strong acting skills, her dramatic voice, and her immediate burst of talent carries us off to a realm of theatre that makes the reality of the situation much easier to watch. The script is down to earth, the characters are down to earth, and we find great strength in watching this family drama, as it unfolds around a subject matter that is not easy to watch but that keeps us deeply involved.


Menopause The Musical: A funny production celebrating the changes in life

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Janet Martin (Iowa Housewife), Nicole Robert (Earth Mother), Jayne Lewis (Soap Star), Michelle E. White (Professional Woman)

Janet Martin (Iowa Housewife), Nicole Robert (Earth Mother), Jayne Lewis (Soap Star), Michelle E. White (Professional Woman)

“Good evening, ladies. And you too, sir.”

The producer’s introduction acknowledges the target audience and underlines that the connection with Menopause The Musical is through common experience — past, present or anticipated. (For the record, there were four men in the capacity audience on the evening that I saw the award-winning show and they were laughing almost as hard as the rest.)

Menopause The Musical by Jeanie Linders premiered in 2001, and, according to the show’s official website, some 11 million people — mainly women, often of that certain age — have laughed their way through the 90 minutes celebrating the change of life, courtesy of the four types representing them all: a professional woman, a star of daytime TV, an ex-hippie and a small-town housewife.

The action begins at the lingerie sale counter in Bloomingdale’s department store in New York. The four women — never named to emphasize the universality of hot flashes, memory glitches, weight gain, frequent bathroom visits, mood swings and so on — sing about their menopausal experiences with melodies borrowed from the pop charts of the 1960s and 70s.

So, songs such as Puff, the Magic Dragon becomes Puff, My God, I’m Dragging and My Guy becomes My Thighs, as the housewife bemoans the heftiness of her nether regions. To the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, we hear that “In a guest room, on the sofa, my husband sleeps at night.” Meanwhile, The Great Pretender is the vehicle for explaining the handling of forgetfulness. The clever parodies are very funny and the familiarity of the pop melodies increases the humour quotient at every well-orchestrated and well-choreographed turn and through each smooth scene change. (more…)

Capital Critics Circle Announces Theatre Award Nominees and Adds New Award Category

News from Capital Critics Circle

OTTAWA, October 15, 2015 – The Capital Critics Circle today announced the nominees for the sixteenth annual English-language theatre awards for plays presented in the National Capital Region during the 2014-2015 season. Courtesy of Tartan Homes, the Circle has expanded this year’s list to include the Tartan Award for technical excellence.

The nominees are:

Best professional production:

Re:Union by Sean Devine, directed by John Langs and Sean Devine, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre, Magnetic North Theatre Festival

Stuff Happens by David Hare, directed by David Ferry, National Arts Centre English Theatre

Three Men in a Boat, adapted for the stage from Jerome K. Jerome’s story by Mark Brownell, directed by Sue Miner. Pea Green Theatre Group (Toronto) at the Ottawa Fringe

Up to Low, adapted for the stage and directed by Janet Irwin, based on the book of the same name by Brian Doyle, Easy Street Productions and the Ottawa Children’s Theatre in association with the Magnetic North Theatre Festival.

Best community theatre production: (more…)

Toto Too Theatre Does Itself Proud

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

LoveValourCompassion-2773 (photo-Allan Mackey)

Photo:Allan Mackey

There was one unfortunate aspect to TotoToo Theatre’s recent production of Love! Valour! Compassion!

It deserved a longer run. Although focusing on the lives of eight gay men over three holiday weekends at an Eastern seaboard farmhouse, Terrence McNally’s award-winning play touches on universal truths that can resonate with a broad cross-section of theatregoers. That certainly happened on Broadway where it left many audience members in tears. And it was also a virtue of Chantale Plante’s sensitive, discerning production at Academic Hall.

McNally, whose output also includes the book for the hit musical, Ragtime, and Frankie And Johnny In The Clair de Lune, is a seminal figure in late 20th Century American theatre — a gay playwright who has managed to avoid ghettoization despite dealing with subject matter, that in earlier generations, and in a different cultural climate, deterred dramatists like Tennessee Williams and William Inge from confronting matters of sexuality to the degree that McNally does.


Opera Lyra closes the curtain! The end of an era in Ottawa.

News from Capital Critics Circle

Rosemary Thompson.  14 octobre 2015 – OTTAWA (Canada) – C’est avec une grande tristesse que le Centre national des Arts a appris aujourd’hui la cessation des activités d’Opéra Lyra. Le CNA travaillait depuis plus de 20 ans en étroite collaboration avec la compagnie, qui s’était fièrement acquis la réputation de présenter d’excellentes productions dans la région de la capitale nationale.

« Pendant de nombreuses années, Opéra Lyra a connu des succès artistiques, particulièrement sous le leadership de son directeur général actuel, John Peter (Jeep) Jeffries. L’organisation a formé de nombreux jeunes chanteurs qui ont accédé à la scène internationale, et a connu certains succès au chapitre des ventes, en particulier avec la production de Carmen en 2013 », a déclaré Christopher Deacon, directeur administratif de l’Orchestre du CNA. «Nous savons toute l’ardeur qu’ont mis la direction et le conseil d’administration d’Opéra Lyra à maintenir la compagnie sur les rails. C’est un jour extrêmement triste pour les arts de la scène à Ottawa. »

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The University of Ottawa Theatre Department presents its 2015-2016 season.

News from Capital Critics Circle

The Ottawa public will be treated to four classic writers (contemporary and otherwise). Productions  of their work are not likely to return  to our city in the near future. Isnt this proof that the University Ottawa is affirming its presence as an important part of the Ottawa theatre community. These shows should not be missed.

The Department of Theatre will present a rich and varied array of productions for the 2015-2016 theatre season. Four directors, esteemed and emergent, will showcase gutsy and emblematic texts in Academic Hall, the Grand Dame of performance venues in the National Capital. The public is hereby invited to attend this season’s two English language and two French language productions: Love’s Labour’s Lost by William Shakespeare; Les Reines by Normand Chaurette; Antigone by Sophocles; and Pool (No Water) by Mark Ravenhill.


National Theatre Live returns to Ottawa. Watch the postings

News from Capital Critics Circle


“Love! Valour! Compassion! A fine ensemble production that is moving, amusing and brings one close to tears!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

LoveValourCompassion-2773 (photo-Allan Mackey)

Photo: Allan Mackey

It is not surprising that a thread of anger runs through Love! Valour! Compassion! given that Terrence McNally’s award-winning play had its première in 1994. This was a time when the scourge of AIDs was felling many, primarily homosexual men, and being HIV positive was a death sentence.

Buzz and James, two of the eight characters in Love! Valour! Compassion!, are near death. By contrast, long-time couple Arthur and Perry have escaped AIDs and mark their fourteenth anniversary together in physical health, as they repair the health of their relationship. Meanwhile, aging choreographer Gregory must come to terms with his inability to dance as he once could and deal with a recurring speech impediment. His balance is restored when he is with his young partner, Bobby, who is blind but undaunted by his disability. Another regular member of the group that meets at Gregory’s home is the angry and bitter John. With him is Ramon — handsome, virile, passionate and promiscuous — the catalyst who upsets the equilibrium the rest have achieved over the years.


Trisha Brown Dance Company: as fresh and contemporary as ever.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht


Photo: NAC    Set and Reset from the Trisha Brown Dance Company

Ottawa audiences were treated to an exclusive Canadian engagement by the Trisha Brown Dance Company, presenting some of choreographer Trisha Brown’s seminal experiments in postmodern dance performance. Trisha Brown began creating work in 1960 and she formed her Dance Company in 1970 so the four short works we saw, ranging over a period of 28 years, from 1983 to 2011, actually represented important moments of most of her creative career. What stood out was the way they all spoke to each other, all echoing elements that appeared in each of the other performances, each one appearing so fresh, and contemporary, without the slightest hint that anything was dated or past its time. This form of dance-performance gives one the impression that her work represents  a constant process of intense research as it tries to position itself in relation to that which already exists but that is somehow insufficient and even stifling and has to be overcome.

. Take If You Couldn’t See Me, featuring a single dancer who faces upstage the whole time. Dressed in a flimsy orange dress that glowed in those strong lights, she kept finding positions that foregrounded her arms, her legs, her hips, her shoulders until one suddenly realized that this performance was in the process of changing the spectators gaze. We are watching a body with no face, no eyes, no expression, no emotion and no psychological points of reference. It erases the narrative totally, covers the head in brown hair and deflects our gaze to the back of the body. What dancer has ever had to dance from that perspective before? We watch the creation of a new dancing body, .one that performs from the back using its shoulders, its feet, its heels, its buttocks and the fluttering skirt, …and Robert Rauschenberg’s lighting and costumes helped transform this flittering bit of sparkling orange light into a new moving being… Enchanting!



Past Reviews