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

Kanata Theatre struggles to make The Melville Boys work

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Norm Foster is a playwright with a modest intent — to write comedies about “ordinary people just trying to get by in life.”

That prescription can no doubt be applied to The Melville Boys — his much-produced piece about two brothers, wildly disparate in personality, who seek to re-bond by spending a weekend at the family’s  lakeside cabin.

Unfortunately Kanata Theatre’s new production merely shows how fragile the play really is and how easily it can collapse in performance. (Continue reading » )

The Melville Boys: Adequate production of play past its prime

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

By Norm Foster, directed by Steve Truelove, a Kanata Theatre Production

The cottage is as much part of the Canadian psyche as hockey, so little wonder playwright Norm Foster set The Melville Boys at a lakeside retreat.

The second play of his long writing career, this dark comedy carries the signature one-liners that resulted in Foster being called the Canadian Neil Simon. It also has a familiar sit-com approach veiled with a coating of tragedy. (Continue reading » )

OLT’s Marion Bridge: More Pretension than Substance

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

There is an affecting moment of dramatic truth in Ottawa Little Theatre’s production of Marion Bridge, Daniel MacIvor’s overwrought drama about about three sisters whose relationship is in crisis.

It comes when Agnes, the booze-swilling failed actress back from Toronto to be at her mother’s deathbed, sits down for a game of cards and a chat with the sister who stayed at home —  the child-like, unimaginative Louise.

It’s a simple scene but subtle in nuance in what it tells us about two estranged siblings and the dynamics that both separate them and keep them together. It does work. And it’s a reminder of MacIvor’s  expertise in creating compelling individual scenes for a play. But whether they present us with an integrated whole is another matter. (Continue reading » )

Marion Bridge: much emotional baggage makes for a dreary drama

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Marion Bridge by Daniel MacIvor; director: Chantale Plante; a production of the  Ottawa Little Theatre

Carrying a lifetime’s worth of baggage, three sisters of a very dysfunctional family are brought together by imminent death. As their mother lies dying, each of the three reveals her insecurities, resentments, memories and false memories and periodic hostility towards the others and their parents.

Each sister is deeply flawed and hides from the world in her own way. Agnes fled from her Cape Breton home to an unsuccessful acting career in Toronto. Her other escape is alcohol — her mother’s choice towards oblivion, too. Meanwhile, the ‘good’ middle sister, Theresa, now having a crisis of faith, chose the nun’s veil and farming as her escape route, while youngest sibling, Louise — the only child still living at home — sinks into daytime television soap operas and love of automobiles. (Continue reading » )

The Associates/Les Associés : Fine evening of dance performance!

Reviewed by on    Dance   ,

Echo by Christopher House
(The Associates)

It is easy to understand how dance is at the forefront of all performance because it is constantly pushing the boundaries of the human body, investigating the relationship between the human body and the possibilities offered by all technologies involved in spacial creation, transforming the relationship between the text and the body. We are so lucky that the Director of Dance at the NAC has the courage to bring us programmes that may not always be easily understood but that help and have always contributed to forming a demanding dance public in Ottawa.

Marie Chouinard has always been synonymous with extreme originality on the Quebec dance scene and her work seems to be a constant investigation into the anthropological sources of the human being. Emerging from the green greasy Uhrschleim of creation, ritualized movements that take us back to pre-western civilization,(not unlike Romeo Castellucci!) her dancers now propel us into new relations between the human animal and our current technological revolution.

(Continue reading » )

A Man Of No Importance scores high at the Gladstone

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo: Patrick Whitfield

It’s a pity that A Man Of No Importance is having such a brief run at The Gladstone, given that it is such a touching yet ultimately joyous experience.

Indie Women Productions have delivered a stand-out production of this award-winning 2003 Broadway musical about a lonely gay Dublin bus conductor who worships the works of Oscar Wilde.

It is a lovely, lovely show, graced by a solid acting ensemble headed by the ever reliable Shaun Toohey as Alfie Byrne, the amiable good-hearted transit man who’s given to entertaining his passengers with recitations of poetry during their daily transport.

A Man Of Importance began as a 1994 film starring Albert Finney as Alfie. Its transformation into a stage musical proves to be remarkably successful, thanks to an observant, witty and at times emotionally wrenching book from Terrence McNally, who is far more at home with this subject matter than he was with Catch Me If You Can, the show recently mounted in Ottawa by Orpheus. And the beguiling songs, which arise naturally from the dramatic material and run a gamut of emotions, are supplied by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, the proven team who gave us Ragtime. (Continue reading » )

A Man of No Importance, an engaging delight.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

A Man of No Importance Book by Terrence McNally Music by Stephen Flaherty Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens Directed by Maxim David indie women productions

Part of the charm of A Man of No Importance is its modesty. Almost reflecting the tone of the title in its approach, the award-winning chamber musical is gently low-key, gradually working its way into unfolding a moving story about a bus conductor in 1960s Dublin.

With book by Terence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, the 2002 musical is based on the 1994 movie of the same name, starring Albert Finney as bus conductor Alfie Byrne. Byrne escapes his internal conflict and his mundane daily routine through his love of the works of Oscar Wilde — his role model — and his determination to mount a production of Wilde’s Salome in St. Imelda’s church hall (a most unsuitable location for a script that shocked from the outset and would certainly offend conservative Catholic sensibilities in 1960s Ireland.) (Continue reading » )

Derek Walcott, a Mighty Poet, Has Died- by Hilton Als (The New Yorker)

Reviewed by on    Arts News  

Derek Walcott, a Mighty Poet, Has Died
By Hilton Als March 17, 2017

Walcott’s poems explored, among other themes, the sea, memory, and the joys and terrors of physical love.
Derek Walcott was a complicated person and a great poet, and often those things are not divisible. The time I spent with him and his beautiful German-born partner, Sigrid Nama, in Derek’s native St. Lucia changed my life in ways that extended past the New Yorker Profile I wrote in 2004. I felt as though I had always known him—not known him, exactly, but seen him, been in his aura, his history, because, like my father, Derek was the product of a profound world, a distinctly Caribbean world with its history of colonialism and its imperceptible change, and home to so much more, including mothers who spared no amount of love to make you understand that you were their bright boy. Derek’s mother, Alix Maarlin, a schoolteacher, helped him publish his first poems, and it was the light of that first love that Derek always stood under; it made him shy about intimacy, while closeness was something he always sought. The first Mrs. Walcott believed in him with a pride that eclipsed the great honor of his 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature because she was the first to say, if only in her mind: “Why not be Shakespeare?” Anything was possible, and where you were from was just part of the story. (Continue reading » )

Catch Me If You Can: Orpheus shines with inferior material

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo: Orpheus Theatre

Catch Me If You Can is a trifle of a musical based on a trifle of a movie from Steven Spielberg. It’s scarcely worth doing, but it is redeemed somewhat by Orpheus Musical Theatre Society’s ability to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

The production currently at Centrepointe features deftly staged musical numbers, performances that manage to engage, and a rollicking narrative thrust. In other words, it’s good enough to make you forget, at least temporarily, how hollow the material really is. (Continue reading » )