Reviewer: Laurie Fyffe

Laurie Fyffe
Laurie Fyffe obtained her M.A. in Theatre studies at the University of Ottawa. She is a playwright and currently lives in Ottawa.

The Public Servant and Skin: two comments on the Undercurrents Festival

Reviewed by Laurie Fyffe

The Public Servant

GCTC’s Undercurrents festival of new works kicked off Tuesday night with a glimpse into what’s simmering under the surface in Ottawa’s theatre community. The news is good. First, every laterally re-situated, hastily bought out, or abruptly terminated servant of the public take note – Ottawa’s recent and ongoing gutting of those who toil in service of the passive Canadian public is now a very personal and highly political play, The Public Servant. Theatre is a subversive art form. No where more so, than when a group of smart, talented and extremely forthright women venture into the fray of tattered emotions and downgraded expectations of policy gone wrong – and make the audience laugh, while leaving the theatre fully cognizant of the joke.

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The Real World. Tremblay’s Play at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.

Reviewed by Laurie Fyffe

A searing and emotional examination of the power of memory and writing, Michel Tremblay’s The Real World? is set in two separate realities, one the here and now, the other the imagined world written and conjured into existence by Claude (Matthew Edison), the youngest of two siblings.

Characters crisscross though time, acting out confrontations between Claude, his mother, Madeleine, sister Mariette, and father, Alex, in the present – which may or may not be ‘the real world’ – and a past Claude has embellished in his play, a work of fiction he has – perhaps mistakenly – given his mother to read. Weaving his way through numerous arches, set against the sky blue backdrop of Charlotte Dean’s so real-you-can-smell-dinner, middle class living room, Claude is an occupant of two worlds, the present and his own envisioned past, the world of his play that his mother insists he created in a vain desire to be ‘interesting’.

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Earnest goes to Bollywood at Plosive Theatre.

Reviewed by Laurie Fyffe

Plosive Theatre certainly knows how to get your attention. Ottawa’s newest theatre company has taken to the Gladstone’s stage with a curiously layered rendering of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest set in British colonial India. This may require pausing a moment to review director David Whiteley’s extensive glossary of terms, time better spent enjoying the view of Andrea Robertson’s set, as lit by John Solman, with its collage of dusty colours, hinting that the streets of Calcutta lie somewhere beyond. Pretty as the set is, however, it doesn’t give the actors much room to move about, and the empty space between stage platform and curtain creates a physical and metaphysical gap that not all the performers are adept at negotiating. {Is this a play within a play? Are the bored colonials staging a performance?} The result is that Wilde’s comedy of manners feels a bit cramped, with both Garret Quirk’s Algernon and Stewart Matthews’ Jack forced to elbow it out on a small bench for almost the whole of Act One. They really do seem to be talking to themselves.

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Past Reviews