Reviewer: Patrick Langston

Patrick Langston
Patrick Langston is the theatre critic for the Ottawa Citizen. In addition to reviews of professional and the occasional community theatre production, he writes a monthly theatre column and previews of major shows for the Citizen. Patrick also writes for Ottawa Magazine, Carleton University Magazine, and Penguin Eggs -Canada's folk, roots and world music magazine. Patrick lives in Navan.

Voices from the Front:Radio format and the written material dont always mesh

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Most years, Plosive Productions’ annual Radio Show takes place close to Christmas with a seasonal or light-hearted theme: adaptations of classics like Miracle on 34th Street or Winnie-the-Pooh, for example.

This time, Plosive has scheduled the show – Voices from the Front – around Remembrance Day and focused on much grittier material: the letters written to family and sweethearts by soldiers serving at the front in the First and Second World Wars.

If you’ve ever read any of these letters, particularly on their original, now-yellowed paper, you know how effecting the words can be.

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GCTC’s Ordinary Days proves to be an extraordinary stage experience

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Posted on Artsfile.ca on November 3

The key to life in the big city? Ignore the big and celebrate the everyday.

It sounds trite, but Ordinary Days – Adam Gwon’s thoughtfully empathetic chamber musical about four young people adrift in New York City – is just the opposite of pedestrian, as the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s winning production of his show proves.

Directed by Eric Coates, the sung-through piece tracks the lives of two women and two men as they grapple with loneliness in the city and struggle for everything from artistic recognition to freedom from a past that warps the present. (more…)

King of the Yees trips over its own plot.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

It doubtless started out as a viable, if overstuffed, idea.

Write a comedy about the erosion of Chinese culture and tradition when it’s transplanted to contemporary America. Illustrate the resonant theme of cultural identity by making the two main characters the likeable Larry Yee, a 60-year-old father who honours tradition, and Lauren Yee, his thoroughly westernized, Ivy League school-educated daughter who makes her living as a playwright.

Weave in a loving-but-fraught relationship between father and daughter and a search for personal identity. Set the whole thing in Chinatown, say it’s a true story, and call it King of the Yees. (more…)

Fresh Meat: Le Crip Bleu, La disparition, Beer Buddies, Honey Dew Me, Badges

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Poster: fresh meat theatre festival

Now in its sixth year, Ottawa’s Fresh Meat festival brings 12 short shows over two weekends to invariably enthusiastic Arts Court audiences. The following were reviewed during the first weekend.

Le Crip Bleu

Featuring brave, generous and very funny performances by Alan Shain and Frank Hull – both wheelchair-using actors who celebrate the “able” in disabled – Le Crip Bleu is a wordless burlesque show that reminds us that humour and the glory of the human body in all its guises matter far more than shallow, contemporary conventions of beauty. The two perform a mating dance using their chairs, taunt and tease the audience with stripteases (the show does count on hooting, cooperative viewers), and generally carry on in cheeky, envelope-pushing fashion. One suspects the show could touch the heart of even a die-hard Republican.

La disparition

Marc-André Charette and Anie Richer blend words, movement and song with deep love and compassion in this textured tale of a mother sliding into fragility. Performed with English surtitles on a bare stage with hundreds of sheets of paper as props, La disparition (She’s Gone) is authentic, satisfyingly choreographed and – whether you’ve ever watched your mother slip away into the unknowable world of dementia or not – both powerfully resonant and oddly hopeful. (more…)

Sir John A: Acts of Gentrified Ojibway Rebellion on stage at the NAC.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Onegin’s portrayal of young love conquers despite some missteps

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

 
Article first published in  Artsfile.ca

Pity the rich boy with too much time on his hands. His heart entombed as though by a Russian winter, he drifts through life bored, disconnected, emotionally somnolent. And if his name is Evgeni Onegin, he manages, through indifference to all but his own wants, to hurt deeply those who reach out to him and, in the end, to become the victim of his own glacial persona.

Onegin, in other words, isn’t the kind of guy you’d choose to hang with. But, as the titular character in the new, spirited musical by west coasters Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille — who based their show on the early 19th century poem by Alexander Pushkin and the subsequent Tchaikovsky opera — he is someone to whom you pay attention. (more…)

This Amorous Servant seduces her audience.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

 

A word of advice: If your plans ever conflict with those of Corallina, you may as well just give way because she’ll best you every time.

Corallina — a firecracker with an intense sense of honour, an estimable loyalty to those who merit it and an ingrained understanding that women’s second-class citizenry needs to be rooted out like a nasty bit of poison ivy — is the glue who holds together Carlo Goldoni’s rarely produced 1752 commedia dell’arte creation The Amorous Servant. (more…)

Old Stock: A refugee love story. (Artsfile.ca)

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

You may never look at a shipping container the same way after seeing Old Stock. Starring Halifax singer-songwriter-actor Ben Caplan, a luxuriantly bearded lad with a grand voice and a remarkable flair for entertaining, the music-play hybrid opens with a closed shipping container at centre stage.

As blandly anonymous on the exterior as any container, this one swings opens to reveal a four-piece band and the intimate story of two early-20th-century Jewish refugees who fled from Romania to Canada – refugees who are played by a couple of the musicians.

When the show’s over, the container doors close and your own life goes on, richer for what you’ve seen and heard. It’s a wonderful conceit for a set, this shipping container from who knows where. Designed by Louisa Adamson, Christian Barry and Andrew Cull, it suggests everything from foreign shores to life’s transience to the search for a permanent home, all themes in this smartly textured show……..

Read the rest on www.artsfile.ca

Old Stock is a 2b theatre company (Halifax, N.S.) production, co-produced by the NAC. It was reviewed Thursday. In the Azrieli Studio (NAC) until July 15. Tickets: nac-cna.ca

 

Maestro’s frenetic beat fails to reach comic climax

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Photo courtesy of The Gladstone Theatre

Has something been lost in translation?

Touted as a hilarious comedy about the off-stage shenanigans of musicians, classical and otherwise, Maestro by Québec playwright Claude Montminy opened Friday at the Gladstone in its English-language premiere. The play is running in both official languages and opened in French a day earlier.

Perhaps the show skims smartly along in its original French (I saw it only in Nina Lauren and Danielle Ellen’s English translation), but Friday’s opening had the buoyancy of a tuba. (more…)

Vigilante cast keeps powerful Donnellys saga all in the familly

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

 

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Past Reviews