Reviewer: Alvina Ruprecht

Alvina Ruprecht
Alvina Ruprecht is professor emerita from Carleton University. She is currently adjunct professor in the Theatre Department of the University of Ottawa.She has published extensively on francophone theatres in the Caribbean and elsewhere. She was the regular theatre critic for CBC Ottawa for 30 years. She contributes regularly to www.capitalcriticscircle.com, www.scenechanges.com, www.criticalstages.org, theatredublog.unblog.fr and www.madinin-art.net.

Semperopera”s Swan Lake moves forward to a heightened emotional and psychological performance!!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

photo Ian Whalen

Photo Ian Whalen
Semperoper  Dresden Ballet company

The renowned  Semperoper Dresden Ballet under the artistic direction of Canadian Aaron S. Watkin,  has just whirled through  Ottawa this past  weekend with their moving romantic  performance of Swan Lake, one of the world’s  most famous narrative ballets.

Set to the music of Tchaikovsky, performed by the orchestra of the NAC under the direction of Mikhail Agrest, the tragic story inspired by  Russian folk tales concerns the handsome prince Siegfried who falls in love with Odette, the young  woman bewitched by an evil magician who can only retain her human form for a brief time every day but who can be released from the spell if she has the  true love of a human.   (more…)

Café Müller and The Rite of Spring. The Wuppertal Tanztheater returns to its origins

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

The Rite of Spring, Wuppertal Tanztheater at the NAC
Photo Alexandra Campeau

 

The ghost of Pina Bausch was no doubt fluttering with excitement around the NAC last night  as  the contemporary formation  of her company brought us all back to the very origins of  the idea of  Tanzteater , dance that incorporates words,  foregrounds a heightened form of theatricality  and much much more. All that came through very strongly last night in the Opera of the NAC before a packed house, waiting religiously to see the company from Wuppertal perform works that most people have not seen before in Ottawa. (more…)

Yerma from the Young Vic. intense, powerful, an impeccable adaptation of Lorca to the London stage.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Yerma at the Young Vic
photo Johan Persson

Yerma in London, as the subtitle states, is a contemporary adaptation of  Federico García Lorca’s Yerma,  a work by one of the great 20th Century Spanish playwrights.  It was written in 1934, two years before the tragic assassination of the writer by Franco’s forces.

Director Simon Stone’s  reworking of the play  sets it in an Expressionist  design environment where the young couple, (she and John as they are mentioned in the cast) are enclosed in a glass case that creates a mirror effect for the audience. We, in the  cinema, see the British audience reflected at the back of the stage so that it gives an impression of an audience sitting on both sides of the stage,  staring into the  most uncomfortably   intimate,   increasingly violent encounters, appearing  as the secular Calvary  of this doomed couple. Gregorian chants, religious and varying forms of music in Spanish and Latin as well as a reference to a particular Japanese death ritual, mark the seven  chapters of the tale that announce  each step of this painful process  in Yerma’s desperate search  to become pregnant. (more…)

Onegin : This tribute to 21st century sensibility moves musical theatre far beyond the box!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Onegin
Photo Rachael McQuaig

First of all do not read Pushkin’s work before seeing this.  Although the show is apparently set in Russia, it includes the main characters in the novel, it moves from Saint Petersburg to Moscow and back and there are references to Byron which one  finds in Pushkin’s text.  However,  a knowledge of this  early 19th century romantic novel which has become one of the great works of Russian literature will only confuse you. Just arrive at the NAC with no great expectations, think of what we are told that this is not an opera, relax, forget the ballet,  and you will probably enjoy this very much because it is clearly geared for a 21st century sensibility where existing operatic, theatrical , pop music and musical theatre conventions  have all been thrown to the wind. (more…)

Zones théâtrales: Les beignes, une comédie grotesque, pétillante et captivante!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Les Beignes: toute la compagnie
Théâtre populaire d’Acadie

Le festival Zones théâtrales, évènement biennal qui met en vedette les spectacles issus des communautés francophones des régions, est de nouveau parmi nous.  Désormais sous la direction artistique de Gilles Poulin-Denis, le festival comporte sept spectacles, six  lectures publiques ainsi que des Zones « chantiers » soit des laboratoires de recherche où le public est invité à assister aux répétitions et à découvrir les technologies les plus récentes intégrées à la création scénique. (more…)

Awoken: excellent performance but the material falters…

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Nicholas Dave Amott in Awoken. Photo: Lorraine Payette

Nicholas Dave Amott in Awoken
Photo: Lorraine Payette

Awoken created and performed by Nicholas Dave Amott

A monologue  which becomes a sleepless delirium, bringing together  sounds of familiar voices, a nightmarish confusion between illusion and  reality, and a clear sense of a character performing himself in front of an audience, opened last night at the Gladstone Theatre for a 5 day run.

This very talented young man with a beautiful voice, enormous stage presence and an excellent sense of theatre, plays out his delusional world of the insomniac as it shifts back and forth from his contacts with the doctor, his conversations with his mother, his need to express himself through music, and his flights of confused fantasy into the world of popular culture where batman, ironman and many more appear and disappear. He is suffering from an incurable form of sleeplessness and there is nothing anyone can do for him. He uses points of light created by lamps not only to transform his face into multiple theatrical masks but also to bring the audience into his semi-hypnotical state of dizziness and exhaustion as he winds down to the inevitable ending. (more…)

Burn: a good natured horror mystery that keeps us glued to the stage!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Zoe_photo by Lawless

Photo:  by Venetia  Lawless. Zoe Georgaras

An evening that begins in Geoff Gruson’s cozy sitting room design with enormous wooden bookcases, a warm fireplace, posters and paintings coming to life under David Magladry’s soft lighting that heats up the room in its friendly glow. A writer’s paradise. Three friends, David, (Michael Thompson), Sam (Tahera Mufti) and Robert (Chris Torti) are gathered in Roberts sitting room discussing the life and death of Paul, a successful writer friend, author of horror fiction who recently passed away. Robert also laments the death of his own wife Tara Waters, a talented writer whose memorabilia is spread out over the walls and around the house and whom, according to Robert, is not really dead! What kind of presence does he sense in the room?

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Beneath: perfectly plausible horror! An excellent new work by Doug Phillips

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Beneath. Charlie Ebbs

This world premiere of a one act play by Doug Phillips  is a work of  futuristic hyper-naturalism that grabs us by the jugular because it seems perfectly logical and almost too plausible.

The remnants of a poor family sit around the table discussing family matters that almost seem banal.  In the first few minutes,  Phillips sets out  his clues.  The family is steeped in  misery, water is lacking and there are  fires in the area which has become a sort of agricultural waste – land managed by sharecroppers. Something  weird is happening in the barn behind the house,  as the scraping sounds ignite our curiosity. Then,  there is some terrible secret  hanging over them all.  We meet the family members at that point and it  doesn’t take us  long to see that sister Ellen is suffering the loss of a loved one,  that young Kelsie is waiting for her new date, that Charlie her father is also Ellen’s brother and he  is  the tortured head of this  “natural” family. The atmosphere suggests   Eugene O’Neil’s  grungy realism especially since the characters could possibly be  the actors themselves and we  wonder where this is going. (more…)

Only Drunks and Children tell the truth: a tough-minded play fuelled by the author’s background in stand-up comedy!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Only Drunks. Taran Kootenhayoo, Joelle Peters. Photo by Stephen Wild Photo: Stephen Wild. Taran Kootenhayoo and Joelle Peters.

Drew Hayden Taylor is a prolific playwright, also well known for his stand-up comic routines which bring out his corrosive and provocative humor as well as ideas that stimulate much thought. Published in 1998 and winner of the 1996 Dora Mavor Moore Small Theatre award for Outstanding New Play, Only Drunks and Children tell the truth was first produced in Toronto (1996) by Native Earth Performing Arts. This new production in Gananoque gives us a chance to see the work of an author who has not yet had enough exposure on the mainstream theatre circuit in spite of his many plays that have already been published. .

Taylor raises delicate questions about stereotypes and racism and mistaken attitudes in the non-native community of Canada with regards to native people . Here, he takes a close look at Grace, a young woman of Ojibway origin, from Otter lake, who was removed from her family by the Children’s Aid Society when she was a child because the Society assumed the father had abandoned the family which was not true. She became “Janice” in Toronto where she grew up in a non-native family . As time passed, the cultural memories of her former life, slipped quietly away. The white set by designer Jung-Hye Kim shows us a symbolic place where all culture has been eradicated, as the invisible paintings and other objects that decorate the room only exist in the memory and the imagination of the owner or of those who are still in touch with her past.

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Molière dans le parc » : Le Fâcheux théâtre impose son style et amuse le public de tous âges. !

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

1.barbouillé-11

Sasha Dominique (le Docteur), Sylvain Sabatié (le Barbouillé).    Photos:  © Martin Cadieux

Sylvain Sabatié et toute son équipe de professionnels bien connus dans la région nous plongent dans un des moments les plus marquants de l’histoire théâtrale française : la rencontre entre Molière et les comédiens italiens  avant même que Scaramouche et la commedia dell’ arte trouvent  leur place à la cour de France. Les Italiens avaient  déjà  laissé des traces importantes sur le jeu de Molière en Europe,  lorsqu’ils jouaient sur la place publique. Ce modèle du jeu  grotesque et vulgaire, l’essence même du théâtre populaire, du théâtre de la foire et tout ce qu’il y avait de plus divertissant et  attirant des spectacles de la rue (more…)

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