Reviewer: James Murchison

James Murchison

Bent: Heartfelt , Passionate Theatre.

Reviewed by James Murchison

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. (more…)

Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion Not Just Your Average Road Trip

Reviewed by James Murchison

photo Andrew Alexander

  The first play in the studio series this year at NAC is Sir John A: Acts of a Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion. It is also the first commissioned work for Artistic director Jillian Keiley. The play is about an indigenous man’s quest to retrieve his grandfather’s medicine bundle. When all conventional efforts fail he has to resort to a bold act of resistance: Steal the bones of John A MacDonald and trade them straight up for the medicine bundle. I was intrigued by the idea of making a comedic social satire out of such a story. (more…)

Mothers & Daughters; World premiere shows much talent but the mother/daughter relationship not sufficiently explored.

Reviewed by James Murchison

Mothers & Daughters
Photo Maria Vartanova

 

We are full throttle into the Ottawa Theatre season with Performances at Ottawa Little Theatre, Kanata Theatre, Central Square and of course the N.A.C. with the GCTC season just around the corner. I chose to attend Mothers & Daughters Friday evening. It is the world premiere of a new musical penned by S. Oscar Martin with music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric MacIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin. (more…)

Tick, Tick Boom! Intimate and Powerful!

Reviewed by James Murchison

Tick..tick…boom!
Photo Maria Vartanova

I was very intrigued to attend the Orpheus production of Tick Tick Boom. It would be my first time seeing a production in Centrepointe’s more intimate studio theatre. The play is an autobiographical tale of Jonathan Larson’s early years as a struggling artist attempting to write the great American musical while toiling as a waiter and watching his friends prosper in more conventional professions. He would succeed of course, in writing the monstrously popular Rent, but tragically dying a sudden death of aortic dissection caused by Marfan syndrome before he ever got to see a single performance. The spectacular 12 year run on Broadway, was awarded a plethora of awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Larson, sadly posthumously.  (more…)

Onegin: a talented cast but an adaptation that faulters.

Reviewed by James Murchison

Onegin. thanks to the National Arts Centre, Ottawa. Daren Herbert (Onegin), Hailey Gillis (Tatyana).

The launch of Ottawa’s new theatre season started for me on Friday night at the National Arts Centre, with a great deal of anticipation, excitement and angst. Opening night brings out the eager cheerleaders for the arts and live
performance: people like me.
This year the renovations and restoration of the N.A.C. are complete making the journey easier, now bereft of the obstructions and detours that we have had to sidestep for months. The complex is beautiful and easier to navigate.
As you enter the newly christened Babs Asper Theatre, Denyse Karn’s set design takes you to a huge Russian country house with mile high windows. Books and vodka bottles are spread about the mantles and the large limbs of grand powerful trees reach across from either side of stage evoking a feeling of nature’s Gothic arch. It sets a mood of an aristocratic country estate as a retreat and a temple.
(more…)

Children of God: An emotionally explosive experience

Reviewed by James Murchison

Photo: Emily Cooper

 

Walking into the theatre, one is struck by Marshall McMahen’s two sweeping sheer fabric clouds, one slightly upstage of the other. Downstage left is a shelf of layered rock that can serve as a floor, a step or secluded hiding place. During the play Jeff Harrison’s lighting brings trees and sunsets to life in the clouds and creates windows of light that put you in a church or a secret room. It is a hint to what this play will be: simple but layered, honest, moving and profoundly beautiful. (more…)

Ragtime: An effective production!

Reviewed by James Murchison

I went to see Ragtime at the Centrepointe theatre. The darkness of
evening had not yet fallen and it was gloriously free from the
incessant rain that we have all become so accustomed to. It was a
glorious greaat evening to go to the theatre.
The story of Ragtime is as familiar as time. There are the wealthy
people of New Rochelle who never need worry about anything and
are blissfully unaware of the strife that besets most of the nation.
There are the new Eastern European immigrants struggling to start
a life in America fully believing the myth that everyone has an
equal path to prosperity and happiness. Then there is spirit of the
freewheeling ease of the black clubs of Harlem. (more…)

To Kill a Mockingbird: OLT does credible job bringing beloved story to life

Reviewed by James Murchison

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Photo  Maria Vartanova

To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel and known by many for the nearly flawless film version of 1962. The stage adaptation by Christopher Sergel is not in the same league, but the story is worth telling and OLT does a credible job of bringing it to life.

Many of us may have come to believe that we have evolved from the ugly racist world that was prevalent prior to the social upheaval of the 60’s and the election of the United States first black President. We now know after Brexit, the election of the 45th U.S. President and the horrifying shootings in a Quebec Mosque that we still have a long way to travel before we get to the point where we have attained equality.  It is this simple. We need  eternal vigilance to protect us from our prejudices and xenophobia. (more…)

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: The Heart and Soul of the Rock

Reviewed by James Murchison

The opening night of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams at the National Arts Centre was attended by a who’s who of Newfoundland artists, Canadian politicians and journalists. It was appropriate of course as the play is an adaptation by Robert Chafe of Wayne Johnston’s novel that imagines what early influences might have created a character as enigmatic and colourful as Joseph Smallwood, the last father of Confederation and an enduring symbol of Newfoundland.

A work of fiction that speculates about the heart and soul of a very real character in Canadian history by blending history with invention makes for a compelling evening . It worked on every level. The characters both real and imagined are spellbinding. The dialogue crackles with the wisecracking wit that you find in the best of 40’s cinema. Chafe’s play makes me want to both read Johnston’s novel and discover more about this significant piece of history. (more…)

A christmas carol: A Spirited Tale of How Things Should Be

Reviewed by James Murchison

Nigel-Shawn-Williams-Andy-Jones

Photo. Courtesy of the NAC. Nigel Shawn Williams (Bob Cratchit and Andy Jones as Scrooge)

I am a big Christmas sap. I watch all the Christmas shows. Of course there is probably no Christmas tale that has been retold more often with more approaches than Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, sometimes to great effect and sometimes less so. (more…)

Past Reviews