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

Basket of Deplorables : a mostly pleasant experience!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo: Plosive Production

 

Basket of Deplorables By Tom Rachman at Gladstone Theatre

If the definition of satire is: “ the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and critisize people’s  stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issures” Tom rachman definitely hit t he mark with his latest book  “Basket of Deploraples.”    In this series of short stories , he explores the  Trump era with an open eye , leaving no room for sympathy for the culture of his own time.  Of course, his lont journalistic career made him a knowable observer of our reality.  (Continue reading » )

Prodigal Son: 9th Hour Theatre Company presents sensitive, timeless story

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Photo courtesy of 9th Hour Theatre Company

Prodigal Son

By Shawn Macdonald

Production:  9th Hour Theatre Company

What is good about 9th Hour Theatre Company is their unflinching courage to tackle bold and often sensitive subjects. What is great about them is their consistently challenging and artistic story telling that manages to hold up a mirror to its audience, no matter the topic. Their new production, Prodigal Son by Shawn MacDonald, is inspired by the suffering of LGBTQ people of faith, but in director Jonathan Harris’ interpretation, the story becomes universal – it is about our imperfect world where individuals struggle with preconceived notions, embedded deeply through their upbringing. Unable to fight society’s rigid rules, carved in stone by prejudice and a blind faith in authority, they lash out on those close to them and end up losing themselves. (Continue reading » )

1979: An amusing play, not a satire

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Canada, Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , , , ,

 

Photo by Andrew Alexander

The year is 1979 and the Canadian political scene is in upheaval. The Conservative government has just replaced Trudeau’s Liberals, and the new Prime Minister, Joe Clark, is trying to govern the country on the principles of honesty, truthfulness, and adherence to his high ideals. During his short period in the cabinet, he meets with much stronger adversaries than the opposition party – human greed and corrupt nature. While he stays true to himself and to Canadians, he, as a political misfit, ultimately looses the battle. (Continue reading » )

Les Passants is an imaginative, deep, intelligent, disturbing, and beautifully performed

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo: Sylvain Sabatie

In his play “Les Passants,” Luc Moquen is, to put it simply, presenting us to us. This play has no classic storyline – there is no beginning or end, nothing develops and nothing happens in succession. It has no real solution – only a hint that maybe love, a simple hug can help us – but nobody seems to see it. The play implies many things, and one of them is the fact that we do not want to listen to reason or to nature. “Les Passants’ is a series of vignettes from average people’s lives. The author observes them, captures their thoughts, misadventures, anxiety, and confusion. Although these sketches seem to be random when taken out of context, put together they make a powerful testimony by capturing the essence of today’s life, which is filled with crazy rush through a myriad of meaningless tasks causing a detachment from everything and everyone around us. The leitmotif of the play is death – not so much physical, but a death inside us, caused by total alienation. Dante’s Inferno, killings on the streets, or killing the human inside of us – all these deaths have the same root – displaced values as the result of a disconnect from our true, natural existence. (Continue reading » )

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams: Brilliantly performed, directed, and adapted

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Photo: Paul Daly

In the Playwright’s Notes, the playwright, Robert Chafe, writes: “The history buff will have no trouble calling me out. But I made my primary task to reflect the spirit and heart of this magnificent book within the often-confining demands of a stage play.” That is exactly what he does. Hard, cold facts about Newfoundland’s first premier Joey Smallwood, and the role he played in bringing the Dominion of Newfoundland into Canada’s confederation can be found in any number of books. Chafe’s adaptation of Wayne Johnston novel Colony of Unrequited Dreams brings much more to the stage than that. It brings back the time, the place and people during a time of great change in Newfoundland. (Continue reading » )

Attempts on Her Life: Brave, bold, modern, challenging, creative

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

“Attempts on Her Life” is written by postmodern British playwright Martin Crimp, but has been entirely interpreted by Peter James Haworth, which is probably the only regularity in a highly irregular play. I say ‘regularity’ only because that is exactly the way Crimp works. Narrative is not his focus, therefore his dialogues are meaningless. The stage resembles madhouse whose residents are lost in nothingness. Reality disappears, lucid identity is non-existent, and lives are lived in a virtual world shaped by media.   

The story – if one can talk about a story at all – revolves around Anne, the only character in the play. That is, if we can talk about character at all. Anne is not on the stage. She might be already dead, still alive, in the neighbourhood, or somewhere very far. Everybody talks about her, trying to shape her, disagrees about who she is, but in spite of all of that, here she is. She occupies our minds, our thoughts and becoming more real than we are. Welcome to the modern world of advanced technology and consumerism wrapped up into a global capitalism. In seventeen apparently disconnected scenes, groups of people talk about her as a terrorist, a porno star, a tourist hostess, a daughter of grieving parents, a suicide artist and even as a car. Crimp does not express his opinion; he does not create atmosphere or protagonist and anti-protagonists. In his emotionally detached work, he leaves every possible interpretation to the director.

There is no point in trying to understand a deeper meaning of the story (because there is none).  (Continue reading » )

Servant of Two Masters. Massingham’s staging of Goldoni is intriguing, engaging and funny from the first second! A Winner.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

odyssey-theatre1

Photo: Barb Gray.Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni. Directed by Andy Massingham.  An Odyssey Theatre production 

Almost as a rule, plays start slowly and develop into something interesting as the story unfolds. Fortunately, director Andy Massingham forgot all about this, and instead made “The Servants of Two Masters” intriguing, engaging, and funny from the first second. The play starts with the characters presenting themselves. One by one, they come dancing on the stage, promising an evening under the stars (and sporadic rain) full of fun and delight. Odyssey Theatre premiered its “Theatre Under Stars” production with the adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s best known comic play, giving it a more contemporary twist (the play is set in late fifties), and so proving the old art form of commedia dell’arte to be timeless.

Of course, in commedia dell’arte, the narrative itself is not the center of attention. The outline of the story and characters is always a simple tale about love, error, and deception. In this case, a young couple, Clarice (based on Isabella) and Silvio (based on Flavio), celebrate their engagement, when Truffaldino (based on Arlecchino) enters and announces that he has come with his master Federigo, Clarice’s former fiancé who was presumably dead. While Clarice tries to whimper her way out of her predicament, hot headed Silvio to fight it, master Federigo (in reality Beatrice disguised as her brother) attempts to get his hands on Pantalone’s (Clarica’s father’s) money. Florindo Aretusi (in love with Beatrice) comes looking for his love. Sly and capable Truffaldino (who has no idea that his master is a woman) seizes the opportunity to double his income. Now as a servant of two masters (Beatrice and Florindo) he juggles his duties masterfully, except for a few unfortunate errors, which lead to unexpected and hilarious developments.

 

(Continue reading » )

The Actor<s Nightmare: Entertaining with moments of brilliance.

Reviewed by on    Ottawa Fringe 2016  

When a nightmare or the greatest fear actors can face strikes, what one can do? Improvise; find a band-aide solution or, go with the flow no matter what. After all, show must go on!

So, when a principal character on a performance night of a great show phones in with the broken leg, desperate crew replaces him with an understudy George. Only, it is not George on the stage, but an accountant who has little connection with theatre, even less with acting. As it happens, everybody is full of their own problems, so that nobody listens to the poor accountant, and as a result, he has to go on the stage and to take a part in four well-known plays: Noel Coward’s Private Lives, Hamlet, of Beckett’s Happy Days, and Bolt’s Man for All Seasons.

(Continue reading » )

Ottawa Fringe 2016: Raw Footage – mission accomplished as three artists create trustworthiness, honesty and beauty.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Raw footage is comprised of three dance pieces performed by Cathy Kyle-Fenton, Mary Catherine Jack and Nicola Henry. It is a real treat for dance lovers who like to immerse themselves in a beauty of dance moves and to be carried away by the imaginative narrative. Artists dance beautifully, showcasing their talent, strength and creativity while portraying women who struggle with their personal perception of loss, beauty and life defining light.

Cathy Kyle-Fenton is dancing partly to the faint sound of guitar and partly to the complete silence – at the beginning the only sound heard is tapping of her own feet accompanied by the rhythmic sound of her breathing. Silence adds to the drama of the story about woman who recently suffered a loss of someone close and beloved. Pain is clearly written on her face. Every move tells about battle to accept the reality in hope that they will meet again.

Mary Catherine Jack is a true comedian in a role of a woman who is not a youngster any more, and has hard time to accept the plain facts: sagging skin, wrinkled face and not so firm body. She portrays the wont-to-be sexy seductress in a naturally humorous way while preserving control and gracefulness of dance.

(Continue reading » )

Two for Tea : audience communication is the key!!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Jamesy comes into a room bringing with him a pot of tea and teacup. In bizarre, slow motion movements, he approaches the table and arranges the tea in an obsessive manner. Bringing a second cup suggest that he is going to share his precious tea with someone. Enter his friend James and the tea party begins. 

It’s a true party that these two bring to the stage. They combine physical comedy and improvisation, including audience involvement into a perfectly logical scenario. The story features two friends, a general, Jamesy’s parents and a doctor. First, they “kill” the general on the battlefield, and after that, Jamesy asks his best friend James to take a photo of him and his parents. Of course, the parents are chosen from the audience. In the middle of the photo session, his father has a heart attack, which calls for a doctor (another audience member). The father, along with the entire family and the doctor rushes to the hospital. On their way there, they come face to face with a several difficulties, including a car accident. Not surprisingly, everybody ends up in Cafe Limbo, obviously on their way to Heaven.

(Continue reading » )

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