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 comes up trumps with Sleuth

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Sleuth, Poster of the Kanata Theatre production.


By Anthony Shaffer, a Kanata Theatre production,   directed by Beverley Brooks

There’s more than one reason for seeing Kanata Theatre’s revival of Sleuth.

The first is Dale MacEachern’s robust performance as the scheming Andrew Wyke, a flamboyant crime novelist with a deadly penchant for game playing.

The second is provided by Jarrod Chambers as the hapless victim of this gamesmanship, a guy named Milo Tindle who’s been messing about with Andrew’s wife and ends up being drawn into an infernal web as a result. (Continue reading » )

Theatre Kraken delivers some blazing moments in Othello

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Othello Theatre Kraken

There’s an undeniably powerful moment in Theatre Kraken’s production of Othello when the tormented Venetian general of the title unleashes his savagery on Iago, the diabolical ensign who has been slowly and subtly driving Othello to his doom.

By this point in the play, Iago has already planted the canker of suspicion in the man he hates —  the suspicion that Othello’s wife Desdemona has been unfaithful. So this sudden explosion of wrath comes as Iago is stepping up his insinuations. Othello abruptly loses it — grabbing the man he considered a friend, locking his head in the stocks, and proceeding to beat him mercilessly. (Continue reading » )

An Inspector Calls: A classic thriller struggles to survive OLT’s treatment.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

An Inspector Calls
Photo: Maria Vartanova

Photo Maria Vartanova

An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestley ,  directed by Jim McNabb

J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls is such a well-crafted play that it can even survive the ill-conceived treatment meted out to it by Ottawa Little Theatre.

So even though OLT’s current production rarely meets the script’s full potential, there are still some effective moments as a mysterious police inspector  named Goole descends on a well-to-do upper-middle-class household and proceeds to tear its complacencies asunder with his questions about the suicide of a young woman in this North Midlands town.

And there is no denying that the play’s climax, and the eerie conundrum it poses, can administer a satisfying jolt, even in a hit-and-miss offering like this one. At its best, An Inspector Calls displays its credentials as a classic 20th Century stage thriller by a master dramatist. But J.B. Priestley was also a dramatist with a conscience. It’s no accident that he sets this play in 1912, two years before the outbreak of war, a time when the smug certainties of Edwardian England were yielding to the first signs of fracture in the social order. (Continue reading » )

Building the Wall is outstanding theatre!!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Building the Wall,   Cassandre Mentor.  Photo  from New Ottawa Critics

Building the Wall By Robert Schenkkan

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre

Directed by Sean Devine



It was historian Hannah Arendt who famously advanced  the concept of the banality of evil.

This viewpoint threaded its way through her book, Eichmann In Jerusalem, a riveting account of the trial of an infamous Nazi war criminal.

But you’ll also understand what she was getting at if you venture out to the Gladstone this weekend to see American dramatist Robert Schenkkan’s quietly lacerating new play,  Building The Wall, and take in Brad Long’s unsettling portrayal of a redneck prison officer who has been complicit in unspeakable crimes against humanity. (Continue reading » )

Orpheus strikes gold with Shrek: The Musical

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Shrek: Poster from Orpheus Musical theatre

Book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire.Music by Jeanine Tesori.  Based on the Dreamworks animation motion picture and the book by William Steig. Orpheus Musical Theatre Society,  directed by Jenn Donnelly.

Shrek: The Musical will never win a place in the annals of great Broadway shows, but the production it receives from Orpheus is nevertheless an ongoing delight.

Forget the fact that the prime reason for its arrival on the Great White Way was somewhat cynical and opportunistic —  to capitalize further on the enormous success of the Dreamworks animated movie about a misanthropic swamp-dwelling ogre named Shrek and his rescue of a princess from a tower. Ignore, if you can, the readiness of the stage adaptation to remain faithful to a marketing dictum pursued by the filmmakers — that young audiences find flatulence funny. Accept the reality that Jeanine Tesori’s score can be pretty underwhelming. (Continue reading » )

Voices From The Front evokes the words and memories of two world wars

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Voice from the Front. Plosive Productions.

Photo courtesy of Plosive Productions


Voices FromThe Front: The Radio Show

Conceived by John Cook and Teri Loretto-Valentik

A Plosive production at the Gladstone Theatre to Nov. 11

On one level, Voices From The Front — the latest entry in Ottawa theatre’s popular Radio Show series — may seem simplicity itself. Yet its impact can be powerful.

There’s a row of microphones along the front of the Gladstone Theatre’s playing area. Behind, there’s a row of chairs for the performers as they await those moments when they come forward to read. And in one corner, there’s a piano and the three singing Gladstone Sisters who will be making their own important contribution to the evening. (Continue reading » )

Kanata Theatre’s Shatter collapses with a thud

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Kanata Theatre’s production of a play called Shatter is that it’s well-intentioned.

But that’s not sufficient to give it a pass.

It may have seemed an attractive notion to mark the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion with a drama that purports to deal with this tragedy. But the people at Kanata Theatre should have first made sure that the script was worth doing.

Dramatist Trina Davies is clearly seeking to bring a note of intimacy to her story and give us a glimpse of ravaged human lives. But in the process, she devalues the impact on Haligonians (and on Canadians) of the largest man-made explosion in human history until the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima 28 years later. (Continue reading » )

Enchanted April lives up to its title in Linden House production

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Poster for Enchanted April

There are understandable reasons that Elizabeth von Arnim’s 1922 novel, Enchanted April, is enjoying a renewed lease on life.

Perhaps the most obvious in this day and age is the fact that one can detect early tinges of feminism in this story of four British women of various ages and backgrounds who boldly assert their independence and team up for an idyllic holiday in an old castle in sunbaked Italy.

But other durable factors are also at play here. It is an engaging tale. It is peopled by four interesting and believable female characters. Finally, in its successful transfers to film and stage: the material has offered a bouquet of splendid acting opportunities. (Continue reading » )

The NAC King of the Yees fails to mesh

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

King of Yees. Provided by the NAC English Theatre



So whats exactly happening on the stage of the Babs Asper Theatre at the National Arts Centre? Well now,  let’s see. There are such ingredients as identity angst, the generation gap, urban politics, racial stereotyping, cultural dislocation, a search for “meaning” in life. We also get smidgeons of naturalism, surrealism, dada, Brechtian and absurdist devices glued together by low-vaudeville buffoonery — all hopefully stirred into American playwright Lauren Yee’s dramatic pot in expectation of a coherent whole. A picturesquely conceived lion occasionally makes a manic appearance along with a chiropractor who’s really a sadistic needle-plunging acupuncturist — or is he actually a herbalist? There’s a swaggering caricature of aTong gangster — Shrimp Boy by name — whose presence triggers a street shoot-out that manages to throw an already discordant offering even more off track. (Continue reading » )

Bent: a problematic production but some substantial performances bring substance to the evening.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


Bent Phillip Merriman in the foreground.
Photo Peter Whittaker


There are moments in TotoToo’s production of Bent that are as good as anything that this enterprising company has ever done.

Indeed, the excellent performances of Phillip Merriman and Mike Rogoff as two doomed young lovers provide a compelling reason for theatregoers to seek out this sometimes problematic revival of Martin Sherman’s 1979 play about Nazi persecution of homosexuals. (Continue reading » )

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