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

Onegin: Magnificent ensemble work by the National Ballet of Canada brings to life this highly dramatic piece based on Pushkin’s verse novel

Reviewed by on    Dance   ,

ONEG2 2014 21 (300) photo cred Aleksandar Antonijevic-1

Photo.  Aleksandar  Antonijevic,  with Xiao Nan Yu and McGee Maddox.

Spectacular narrative ballets are the forte of the National Ballet of Canada and Tchaikovsky’s work based on stories and fairy tales have become the mainstay of their production, not to discount that exquisite Romeo and Juliet set to the music of Prokofiev which brought Karen Kain to my attention many years ago. This was just after seeing her dance Nana (based on the novel by Emile Zola) with the Company of Roland Petit in Paris, Now, thanks to the choreography of John Cranko the Company has added to its repertoire, another exquisite production of storytelling on point, this one inspired by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s verse novel Evgeni Onegin written in 1823. (Continue reading » )


Reviewed by on    Arts News  

ao_original - Rafy, courtesy of NFB

Alanis Obomsawin, filmmaker.

The Canadian Film Institute, in partnership with Carleton University’s School For Studies In Art and Culture’s Film Studies section, is proud to announce the next edition of the Canadian Masters series, featuring beloved documentary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin!
The Canadian Masters series is an ongoing celebration of excellence in Canadian filmmaking, featuring onstage interviews, special screenings, and audience discussions with some of the greatest names in Canadian film history.
This event will take place in two parts.
On Thursday, January 26th, CFI Executive Director Tom McSorley will conduct an onstage one-on-one interview with Alanis Obomsawin, discussing her filmography, issues affecting Indigenous people in Canada, her artistic process, and her impressive career which spans 46 years. Following the interview, attendees are invited to stay for a reception in the Arts Court Studio, where Alanis will be in attendance.
Please Note: Seating for the interview is limited. Tickets are now on sale!

(Continue reading » )

Other Desert Cities. A well-cast, carefully wrought family drama!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


Photo. Maria Vartanova

“Write about what you know.”

Following the advice regularly given to authors, the daughter of the wealthy Wyeth family is about to publish unpleasant truths about their past. This is the catalyst for the wrenching conflicts in Jon Robin Baitz’ carefully wrought family drama, Other Desert Cities.

While Brooke’s tell-all memoir is her view of the past and the tragedy that continues to haunt each of the family members, “divergent truths” and different perspectives throw unexpected lights on their history and the current crisis that threatens to tear them apart.

Parents Polly and Lyman Wyeth are former Hollywood movie industry stars, turned politicos and hard-core Republicans. Daughter Brooke is a successful author at the other end of the political spectrum, still fragile after recovering from severe depression. Her younger brother Trip is a television producer trying hard to keep the peace and avoid a serious look at the world. Polly’s sister, Silda, an alcoholic, fresh from rehab, is continuing her recovery by moving into the Wyeth household.

(Continue reading » )

Le Dire de Di : la naissance d’une petite créature mythique!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Photo: Céline Bonnier  dans Le Dire de Di.

Le Dire de Di : Mise en scène de Michel Ouellette, interprété par Céline Bonnier à la Nouvelle Scène, Ottawa

Dans un premier temps, les phares alignés au fond de la scène nous aveuglent alors qu’une voix douce annonce l’arrivée d’une petite tête blonde tout ébouriffée, la merveilleuse Céline Bonnier en « Di(ane) » un ado de 16 ans. Elle sort lentement de sa boîte noire comme un animal qu’on a enfin libéré. Les phares s’éteignent doucement, la jeune personne avance vers la salle, sort de l’ombre, s’approche du lutrin (il s’agit d’une lecture-spectacle) , regarde le public furtivement et commence son « dire » en hésitant.

Bonnier capte la délicate fragilité de cette petite. Timide, elle choisit ses mots, consulte peu son texte et peu à peu, sa voix s’affirme et le texte s’évapore. On est hypnotisé par les trois couloirs de lumière qui tranchent l’espace au-dessus de sa tête comme un crucifix luisant, signe du grand malheur, le supplice qui va bientôt s’abattre sur la jeune fille. Et Di, naïve et fraiche, gaie et amoureuse de la nature, celle qui appartient à « la race des incivilisés humains, », un être profondément ancré dans le miracle de la création, nous livre son secret : une belle histoire d’amour avec la terre!

(Continue reading » )

8 by Mani Soleymanlou: What will it take to wake us up?

Reviewed by on    Arts News  


Photo: courtesy of the NAC

February 1–4 at 8 p.m., NAC Studio.
Additional show February 4 at 3 p.m.

Translation of an article from Le Devoir. January 12, 2017 – OTTAWA – Eight actor friends wind up at a party. Stripped of their masks and stage characters, oblivious to the audience, they engage in a frank and uninhibited conversation during an evening that will change them forever.

Mani Soleymanloui, a (young) theatre artist who documented his full-blown identity crisis in his earlier plays Un and Deux, returns to Ottawa with his gang of fellow artists with 8, an investigation of the emptiness of our supposedly modern, hyperconnected world, where paradoxically we all feel so far from each other.

8 is the story of a party. The party where eight friends hope they can forget their doubts and everyday cares by throwing themselves, for the space of an evening, into something bigger than themselves. But how can you get away from what you are? Surely any attempt to escape is futile … No, that’s not it. That makes it sound too corny.

(Continue reading » )

Other Desert Cities at the OLT. A Compelling Family drama!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


Photo: Maria Vartanova

Other Desert Cities By Jon Robin Baitz, directed by Geoff Gruson.

In case you hadn’t noticed, truth is slippery. Everyone has his or her own version of it, as Donald Trump demonstrates almost daily. Playwright Jon Robin Baitz has made that slipperiness – and the crazy-making process of trying to grab hold of it – a principal theme in his compelling 2010 family drama, Other Desert Cities.

Set in Christmas-season California during the mid-2000s, the play finds two generations of the Wyeth family grappling with multiple truths – from matters of personal motivation to what the Republican Party truly represents – after 30-something, left-leaning daughter/author Brooke (Venetia Lawless) writes a memoir about the dark side of her family. The book is awaiting publication, and the potential of public exposure terrifies her parents Polly (Jane Morris) and Lyman (Robert Hicks), who years ago made a killing in the movie business and have gone on to a prominent role in conservative social and political circles.

(Continue reading » )

Trudeau Stories: A fondly funny look back in time.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

unspecifiedPhoto: Kelly Clipperton

Trudeau Stories By Brooke Johnson, Great Canadian Theatre Company Directed by Allyson McMackon

Pierre Elliott Trudeau may have been a kind of sorcerer, a shape-shifter and ultimately unknowable, to public affairs writer Richard Gwyn, who titled his 1980 book about the former prime minister The Northern Magus: Trudeau and Canada.

To Brooke Johnson, 40 years Trudeau’s junior, he was a friend, an occasional swimming and hiking companion, a man who once slid down an icy Montreal street with her shouting “Whee!” (Continue reading » )

OLT Scores With Other Desert Cities

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Photo: Maria Vartanova

It was Tolstoy who famously observed that all happy families resemble one another — but that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way

So keeping this in mind, what are we to make of the dysfunctional household on view in Ottawa Little Theatre’s sterling production of Jon Robin Baitz’s 2011 play, Other Desert Cities?

On the surface, things might seem okay when we’re first exposed to the Palm Springs home of Lyman and Polly Wyeth, with characters arriving through the French doors, cheerful and tired after tennis, and engaging in the kind of easy banter that you might expect with a Christmas family gathering. But there’s something not quite right about this Yuletide bonhomie. It’s a virtue of Geoff Gruson’s discerning production that you sense a forced artificiality in the things being said and you’re also aware of an underlying tension because of things left unsaid.

This is tricky to bring off, particularly with a script burdened with exposition challenges in its first section. But Gruson has a cast capable of facing these pitfalls as it proceeds to define characters who will increase in complexity as their worlds begin to unravel.

(Continue reading » )

Batsheva Dance Company’s “Last Work”: Ohad Naharin researches the performing body.

Reviewed by on    Dance   ,

bat89C_0727 Batsheva photographer Gadi Dagon

Photo: Gadi  Dagon

At first, we are intrigued by the evolution of these young bodies in space:  disarticulated, disjointed, straining muscles in unusual directions, in opposition to what happens to bodies executing existing dance steps. Dance has repossessed the human body in a way that makes  unhuman demands on the living human creature and opens a new world.

Choreographed at first as  individuals, each dancer  crawls, lopes, twists, leaps, floats in from the wings,  opposing  the  rhythms and movements of the preceding dancer, just to give us the feeling of the enormous possibilities of the human body in this investigation of what can take place in a performance space.  Then groups form and reform,  as all around them the fluttering and twisting of slim, elongated and  finely muscular creatures jerking in and out, up and down, below and above,  create a parallel dialogue with the  electronic sound effects and highly dramatic music.   There is so much excitement, so much activity that  our gaze  keeps  shifting around the stage, picking up individual movements, noticing  other bodies  regrouping, almost as though we were  watching the trembling of some  nervous cellular activity under an intense microscope.

(Continue reading » )

Hand to God – Coping with Angst and Puppets

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   ,

Tyrone Scares Timothy - Midsize

Photo: Glenn Perry

Hand to God is both a farce and satire of religion and suburban life in Cypress, Texas. First produced off-Broadway in 2011, its writer Robert Askins was an unknown working as a bartender with a few unsung off-off Broadway plays to his credit. Hand to God went to Broadway, became a tremendous hit, and received several Tony nominations. Now as it makes the rounds of the regionals, Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage Company is presenting its New England première (Continue reading » )

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