Reviewer: Iris Winston

Iris Winston
A writer, editor, reporter and theatre reviewer for more than 40 years, Iris Winston has won national and provincial awards for her fiction, non-fiction and reviews. A retired federal public servant, she has seven books in print and writes regularly for local, regional, national and international newspapers and magazines, including Variety and the Ottawa Citizen. Iris lives in Almonte.

Mothers & Daughters: a light-hearted musical that relies on stereotypes!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Mothers and Daughters
Photo Maria Vartanova

 

Mothers and Daughters: A Musical,  Book by S. Oscar Martin, Music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric McIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin

SOME Theatre Company, Salt Dining & Lounge

Directed by Maureen Welch

The locker-room humour featured in Mothers and Daughters elicited a fair amount of laughter from the few men in the audience at the performance I attended. There seemed to be little shared hilarity from the female majority. Perhaps this is because they could not identify as easily with the onslaught of crude remarks and gestures, sexual innuendo and detailed references to body parts. In my experience, women rarely (if ever) talk this way, so forced humour of this type falls to the ground with a heavy thud.

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Tick…tick…BOOM

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Tick..tick…Boom
Photo Maria Vartanova

 

 

 

Tick…tick BOOM, book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, Script adaptation by David Auburn,  Orpheus Musical Theatre Society

The countdown on the chance of success as a composer is near. Jon (aka Jonathan Larson) sees his thirtieth birthday as the deadline for delivering a hit musical or leaving theatre for a lucrative alternative.

Therefore, anxiety and anger have equal time in his autobiographical chamber musical tick…tick…BOOM! Originally written as a solo rock monologue mourning the fact that the workshop of his musical, Superbia, did not progress to full production, David Auburn (author of the play Proof) turned the show into a piece for three performers after Larson’s death: the anxious composer, his girlfriend, Susan, and his best friend, Michael. (more…)

Rita is still being educated!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Educating Rita, Photos Maria Vartanova

 

Educating Rita by Willy Russell, Ottawa Little Theatre, Directed by Sterling Lynch

Educating Rita always brings back memories. Not only do visions of Julie Walters and Michael Caine in the 1983 movie version or outstanding performances in previous stage productions of Willy Russell’s 1980 Pygmalion-like tale come to mind, but I flash back to thoughts of Janet — a classmate of mine, briefly, in the UK in the 1950s.

Like Rita, Janet was exceptionally intelligent and from a working-class background. After passing her 11+ examination, (taken at the age of 10 – don’t ask) she was accepted in a prestigious out-of-zone grammar school. Before the end of her first semester, she withdrew and entered a mediocre school close to home, where, she said, she had friends and felt she fitted in with her own kind. (more…)

I’ll Be Back Before Midnight : this set-up of the “thriller” genre succeeds

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Poster: I’ll Be Back Before Midnight

I’ll Be Back Before Midnight By Peter Colley. Classic Theatre Festival, directed by Laurel Smith

The big question surrounding I’ll Be Back Before Midnight is whether the audience is screaming with laughter or in terror as the packed story of this comedy/thriller unfolds.

Either way, playwright Peter Colley has been laughing all the way to the bank since Midnight premiered at the Blyth Festival in 1979. The play has been dubbed the most produced (and profitable) Canadian thriller in history. (more…)

Motown, the Musical allows these hits to shine once more!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Motown, the Musical. Performing the Jackson 5. Photo: Joan Marcus

Motown, the Musical. Book by Berry Gordy; music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalog . Broadway Across Canada in association with Work Light Productions. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright/ Plays Southam Hall, National Arts Centre

The musical legacy of the remarkable growth of Motown speaks for itself through this jukebox musical — which is just as well because the book by Motown founder Berry Gordy is nothing to write home about. (more…)

Candida: breezy and fast-moving at the Perth Classic Theatre Festival..

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Candida, at the Perth Classic theatre. : Photo Jean-Denis Labelle.

By George Bernard Shaw, Classic Theatre Festival.Directed by Laurel Smith

George Bernard Shaw considered his 1895 domestic comedy Candida one of his Plays Pleasant. In part an ironic antidote to A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 drama about a woman’s fate in a male-dominated society, Candida also offers an indirect reference to Shaw’s own background. (His mother left his father for her musician friend.) (more…)

Ottawa Little Theatre: Pardon Me, Prime Minister. Good performances out of weak material.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Pardon Me, Prime Minister, directed by Josh Kemp. Photo: Maria Vartanova

Should you think about going to see Pardon Me, Prime Minister, currently playing at Ottawa Little Theatre, be warned.

This weak and dated farce by Edward Taylor and John Graham, first performed in 1979, is not connected to the fine television comedy series Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister — except by trying to force a link through its title.

The plot — if that is not too strong a word for the creaking storyline — is transparent and the climax (again too strong a word for something that is more fizzle than sizzle) is discernible well before the end of the first scene.

In the tradition of British farce, cast members rush through assorted doors and females strip to their underwear, on at least one occasion for absolutely no reason. Sadly, the OLT production features some of the ugliest and most unflattering undies that do nothing to enhance the appearance of the three young women who must wear them. And, while considering the costuming, it might also have been a good idea to spring for three similar dresses in three different sizes, instead of making do with one, for the three actresses of different body types, who must wear them. Along the way, this would also set up an amusing replication of outfits for the curtain call.

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Same Time Next Year: A delightful opener for this year’s festival

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Poster: Classic Theatre Festival, Perth

Same Time Next Year
By Bernard Slade
Classic Theatre Festival
Directed by Laurel Smith

Adultery has never been more respectable than it is in Same Time Next Year by Bernard Slade.

Written in 1975, the award-winning romantic comedy is as amusing and gently charming in 2017 as it was 42 years ago. Then, it was topical, as well as funny. Today, it is a period piece about social change, as well as being an appealing look at a relationship that begins as a one-night stand and evolves into an enduring connection. (more…)

Old Love: Just the right mix of heart and humour

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Photo courtesy of Ottawa Little Theatre

Old Love
By Norm Foster
Ottawa Little Theatre
Directed by Venetia Lawless

For two friends in their 60s who just celebrated their third wedding anniversary and say that love in later life is especially rewarding, Old Love is a play to identify with and enjoy.

Probably one of the most charming of Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s 55 scripts, Old Love, while containing many of his signature one-liners, is more romance than comedy. First performed in 2008, Old Love traces an undeclared love that has lasted for 30 years, unspoken until he — now divorced — invites his former boss’s widow to dinner at the funeral reception. (more…)

Ragtime: Lasting images and musically very attractive

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Ragtime. Photographer Alan Dean

The insistent syncopation of the ragtime motif, stylized patterns and defining colours form lasting images as the stories emerge in Ragtime: The Musical.

The award-winning show opens with a presentation of three different perspectives in the years leading up to World War I. We meet the privileged whites of La Rochelle, New York, safe in their separation from the difficulties faced by the others. Next, we are introduced to representatives of those groups — the black Harlem community with the music that makes their difficult lives easier and the immigrants facing even greater hardship as they try to establish themselves in their new land. (more…)

Past Reviews