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

The Clean House: you could die laughing

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

The Clean House.  Photo: Andrew Alexander



The Clean House presented by Three Sisters Theatre Company at the Gladstone on Wednesday is a well crafted comedy that does not exploit cheap laughs. Rather it deftly explores relationships, anxiety, love and death with thought provoking and illuminating experiences. Sarah Ruhl has crafted a play that explores  relationships between women with a sharp focus on love, mortality, rivalry, jealously and forgiveness with balance and wit. (Continue reading » )

Othello, a story worth telling again!

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Othello   Photo Maria Vartanova



I arrived two or three minutes late to the Gladstone due to the parking issues and bad time management after my day of drudgery, so I was looking forward to an evening of interesting theatre. I slid into the back seats of the theatre while Iago was professing his hatred of the Moor to the audience. He is dressed as a Union Army soldier in the American Civil War. (Continue reading » )

Grounded ; Death by Remote Control….at the Gladstone

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Grounded features  Alexis Scott

 The play Grounded by George Brant is an interesting concept. It poses questions about the modern military and the role of women in the traditional male roles of service. It also examines the depersonalization of combat through robotics and in particular drone warfare. When we first meet the pilot played by Alexis Scott she is still a hands on pilot,  flying  a plane in a real life eternally blue sky. She revels in the the Air Force fraternity and knowing that she is an isolated sister in the testosterone infused world of the flight officer.

After having gone through pregnancy and motherhood, the pilot returns to work only to find that technology has dramatically altered the life she knew. Through the use of drone, the blue experience of actual flying has been replaced by grey humdrum of monitors and remote control. She finds herself travelling from one screen at work to another one at home. I don’t believe that the author’s point is that war is less horrible or more glorious in real life. I think his intent is more about the numbing effect of technology that might actually be an impediment to diagnosing the prevalence of PTSD and other stress related side effects of war.

(Continue reading » )

Alice In Winterland Family Friendly? I Think Not!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Jessica Vandenberg as Alice in Winterland!
Photo Dominique Gibbons

Written and Directed by Ken MacDougall
Musical Direction by Wendy Berkelaar
Choreographed by Jessica Vandenberg
Produced by Matt Cassidy and Sarah Cassidy

On a night when Ottawa was the coldest capital city on the planet, I appropriately ventured out to see a local production called Alice in Winterland. It seemed a proper choice of entertainment to bridge the Christmas and New Year festive season. It is a pantomime show which incorporates broad actions combined with music and intended primarily for children in what is described as family friendly theatre.
There are a number of adult jokes sprinkled throughout that were not particularly funny which makes their inappropriateness more offensive. I was left wondering whether writer director Ken MacDougall thought the insertion of campy, raunchy vaudeville was the only way that adults could be inspired to bring their children to the theatre. I again wondered if he figured that it would be okay because the phallic references would be lost on the children. In any event, the crass gratuitous dick humour was anything but family friendly. (Continue reading » )

Blind Date Take a Chance on Love… and Fun

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

 Blind date is a particularly unique type of theatre. It is a world premier every evening in that the circumstances and the cast change. An improvisational adventure that involves a somewhat randomly selected cast member for each individual performance insures that no one knows exactly how the play is going to unfold.

(Continue reading » )

Shrek the Musical: Ogre gets girl has some incredible design elements!!!

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Poster for Orpheus musical in Ottawa

There have been some remarkable musicals already this early in Ottawa’s theatre season. We had the remarkable Jonathan Larson biographical musical Tick Tick Boom kicking off for Orpheus in the studio theatre at Centrepointe and the clever, innovative Ordinary Days at GCTC. We are now into the Christmas season and the more traditional musical formula is upon us.

Shrek, the classic story of ogre gets girl, ogre loses girl, ogre gets girl wrapped up in a message of inclusion and be true to yourself comes to the Centrepointe theatre from the dedicated and talented community of Orpheus. Oops, I forgot the spoiler alert. Oh well, I doubt that there would be more than two percent of the public that isn’t already familiar with the original DreamWorks animated film of the same name. (Continue reading » )

Voices From the Front: A Tender, Moving and Passionate Tribute

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

source-for-Voices from the Frong

photo courtesy of Plosive Theatre

The annual radio show at the Gladstone theatre returned to Ottawa this week. This year we were told that the radio play would be somewhat different and it was. The timing of the production coincides with the week of Remembrance Day and commemorates the centennial of the battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. Much of what is liked about this production is still there. Set designer Ivo Valentik has the familiar pieces of the radio station CGLD all there, decorated with adornments of the era tucked into the corners: A vintage cigar box and a soldier’s helmet inform us that this is war time. (Continue reading » )

Ordinary Days :Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Ordinary Days, Photo Andrew Alexander

Photo Andrew Alexander


Some times we think our lives are pretty ordinary. Maybe they are but this insightful play reminds us that is no reason not to celebrate them. Ordinary Days playing at the GCTC focuses on 4 people in New York, but it captures the spirit of everyone that feels alone or trapped while surrounded by people. It is minimalist theatre at its best.  It needs so little to create atmosphere: some stairs to create levels a few  benches, chairs and you have a set. Add some light applied in just the correct way and any landscape you need is created to move a story along. In Ordinary Days at the GCTC, Seth Gerry’s set and lighting design embody this principle of creating simple perfect landscapes out of almost nothing at all. (Continue reading » )

Arsenic and Old Lace Classic Play for The Season

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Ottawa Little Theatre’s second play of it’s 105th season is the enduring classic, Arsenic and Old Lace. If there is a better play to stage around the Halloween season I don’t know what it would be. It is dark and creepy enough, but peppered with humour and spiced with a little bit of romance. It is the pumpkin pie of theatre; both a trick and a treat.

The characters are already well known to fans of the the classic 1944 Frank Capra film with Cary Grant. The sweet little old ladies that bury lonely gentlemen in the basement have a nephew that thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, another that is a menacing international criminal and a third that is a theatre critic in love with the preacher’s daughter. Add in some dim witted police officers and sure fire one liners and that’s how to construct a near perfect black comedy. Written by Joseph Kesselring in 1939 it first premiered on Broadway in 1941 and was a welcome distraction from the war that was occurring in Europe at the time. (Continue reading » )

Bent: Heartfelt , Passionate Theatre.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Martin Sherman’s Bent is a story that examines the persecution gay people in Nazi Germany.  It is also a story of the importance of love and how it can continue to endure in the most horrific and challenging of circumstances. It is an acclaimed piece since it’s premiere in London in 1979 and has continued to be recognized for its powerful sensitive understanding of the evil of fascism and the strength of the human spirit in subsequent incarnations. It is a brave choice for any theatre to tackle and explains why ToTo Too is recognized as one of the finest community theatre companies in Ottawa. Bent is not an easy play to watch much of the time, but it is an important play that will always be relevant to people, unfortunately made more timely because of the resurgence of hate groups attacking Muslims, Jews, the LGBTQ community and anybody  that is perceived as different. (Continue reading » )

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