Capital Critics Circle Awards

Capital Critics Circle announces seventeenth annual theatre awards (2015-16 season)

News from Capital Critics Circle

       Seventeenth Annual Awards offered bya the Capital Critics circle 2015-16
 The winners are:


Best professional production: Belles Soeurs: The Musical, based on the play by Michel Tremblay, book, lyrics and direction by René Richard Cyr, music by Daniel Bélanger, English book adapted by Brian Hill, English lyrics, musical adaptation and additional music by Neil Bartram, a Copa de Oro Productions Ltd. (Montreal) and the Segal Centre for Performing Arts (Montreal) production.

Best community theatre production: Love! Valour! Compassion! by Terrence McNally, directed by Chantale Plante, with musical direction by Paul Legault and choreography by Jasmine Lee, TotoToo Theatre.

Best student production: Pool (No Water) by Mark Ravenhill, directed by Pamela Feghali, University of Ottawa, Department of Theatre


Capital Critics Circle Announces 2016 Theatre Award Nominees

News from Capital Critics Circle

OTTAWA, October 12, 2015 – The Capital Critics Circle announced the nominees for the seventeenth annual English-language theatre awards for plays presented in the National Capital Region during the 2015-2016 season.

The nominees are: (more…)

887 : Memory and history coincide in Lepage’s intimate portrait of Quebec! A Winner!!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht 

Michèle lalonde reads her poem Speak White in 1970 …scrole down on the Quebec site.

Lets begin at the end! Alone on a darkened stage as the lights are dimming, Robert Lepage reaches the end of his emotional journey into the past. What am I doing here he asks us in his own voice? I have been asked to “remember”, but “remember what?” and his tone becomes angrier and more aggressive and he roars out a thunderous interpretation of Michele Lalonde’s unforgettable anticolonial poem Speak White. The play ends on this rousing high note but the evening’s journey has been full of personal and collective memories that Lepage has gathered together in a most intimate moment with the audience. That ending was hair-raising and even unexpected, because Lepage usually avoids political discussions so one wonders how he really locates himself in relation to this strong statement given Lepage’s career on the international stage, moving from one country to another as his works evolves according to his vision of theatrical process which imiposes constant changes on the event.


TotoToo Delivers A First-Class Hosanna

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Photo: Maria Vartanova

It’s the most famous scene in Michel Tremblay’s contemporary classic, Hosanna.

It comes at the top of the second act when the title character, an anguished Montreal drag queen, unveils a chronicle of disaster in telling us what really happened when she showed up at a Hallowe’en costume ball, dressed as Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra.

It’s an extraordinary moment of theatre and a high point of this new TotoToo production. But we shouldn’t really call it a “moment,” not when it consists of a monologue lasting more than thirty minutes and taxes the resources of actor Barry Daley to the utmost.

The scene proves to be an emotionally compelling tour de force, its intimacy heightened by the production’s venue — the new Live On Elgin space. There’s pain here, also slivers of corrosive humour in the glimpses Daley’s performance gives us into the human comedy as it exists in one particular underground culture.

It’s a fading culture because events over the last four decades have turned Tremblay’s play into a period piece. But Daley’s monologue, an extended journey into Hosanna’s troubled psyche, still proved a show-stopper the other night. Daley harnesses the urgency and — importantly — the joual rhythms of the still serviceable English translation by Bill Glassco and John Van Burek in laying bare some messy emotional realities and in probing the shifting nature of identity (more…)

Capital Critics Circle Announces Theatre Award Nominees and Adds New Award Category

News from Capital Critics Circle

OTTAWA, October 15, 2015 – The Capital Critics Circle today announced the nominees for the sixteenth annual English-language theatre awards for plays presented in the National Capital Region during the 2014-2015 season. Courtesy of Tartan Homes, the Circle has expanded this year’s list to include the Tartan Award for technical excellence.

The nominees are:

Best professional production:

Re:Union by Sean Devine, directed by John Langs and Sean Devine, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre, Magnetic North Theatre Festival

Stuff Happens by David Hare, directed by David Ferry, National Arts Centre English Theatre

Three Men in a Boat, adapted for the stage from Jerome K. Jerome’s story by Mark Brownell, directed by Sue Miner. Pea Green Theatre Group (Toronto) at the Ottawa Fringe

Up to Low, adapted for the stage and directed by Janet Irwin, based on the book of the same name by Brian Doyle, Easy Street Productions and the Ottawa Children’s Theatre in association with the Magnetic North Theatre Festival.

Best community theatre production: (more…)

From the Montreal fringe. Intersecting plots and immersive storytelling in “Displaced” by Ground Cover Theatre

Reviewed by Kat Fournier

Photo: Ground Cover Theatre

Photo: Ground Cover Theatre

Three women from three seperate histories–different countries and eras entirely–intersect in Ground Cover Theater’s Displaced. Each has reached a moment where leaving their homes for the greener pastures of Canada has become essential to their survival. And though their stories are independent from one another, here, they have been woven together in a story that portrays the trials faced by lone women who arrive to Canada as refugees.

Mary (Katie Moore) flees the Irish Famine in the 1840s, Sofia (Anna Mazurik) arrives from Germany in the 1940s after her Jewish husband dies in a camp, and Dara (Emma Laishram) must leave Afghanistan to avoid persecution after refusing an arranged marriage. And though their stories are disparate, playwrights Natasha Martina and Sue Mythen use overlayed monologues and corporeal sequences to indicate a shared theme amongst the three women. Each leaves terrible tragedy behind, and struggles in a new life as a persecuted outsider. (more…)

Reviews from Stratford 2015: Durrenmatt’s “The Physicists” still works

Reviewed by Jamie Portman


Photo: David Hou

STRATFORD, Ont. — One thing is clear about the Stratford Festival’s revival of Friedrich Durrenmatt’s morbidly funny Cold War satire, The Physicists. It features a bouquet of outstanding performances. There’s a sly and knowing Graham Abbey, in a foppish display of bewigged and embroidered elegance, picking his way with cat-like tread through the role of an asylum inmate who claims to be Isaac Newton.

Then there’s Mike Nadajewski who cuts his own distinctive figure,courtesy of his rat’s nest mop of hair and the violin on which he keeps playing Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata. He thinks he’s Albert Einstein.Thirdly, we have the enigmatic figure of one Johann Wilhelm Mobius, a patient who can be reduced to trembling fear at one moment and driven
to murderous rage at the most. He’s the most troubling figure in the play, a man tormented by visions of King Solomon. He’s portrayed by Geraint Wyn Davies in one of the best performances of his career. There is also the smoothly malevolent presence of Fraulein Doktor Mathilde von Zahndm, the humpbacked, fright-wigged psychiatrist who has charge of them. Closer inspection reveals this to be actress Seana
McKenna relishing the opportunity to make like Richard lll. She also invokes James Bond territory, reminding you rather of Rosa Klebb, the lethal villainess of From Russia With Love; indeed all that’s missing are the knife blades springing from the toes of her shoes.


The Importance of Being Earnest: The audience is repeatedly beaten with slapstick humour.

Reviewed by Maja Stefanovska

Photo: Andree Lanthier

Photo: Andree Lanthier

Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, is a biting satire of Victorian artifice. You wouldn’t think a play criticizing a society where appearance trumps substance, so close to our own image-obsessed society, would require too much tweaking. What makes this play so funny, other than Wilde’s mastery of language, is precisely that it works within the social conventions of late Victorian London. The play works best when the characters let their actions speak for themselves, without added trappings. I talk a lot about directors’ seeming lack of faith in their audience’s ability to get and be amused by a more subtle type of comedy. It often feels like there’s a fear that, unless we’re repeatedly beaten with slapstick-type humour (with side-winks, just in case we forget to laugh), we will fall asleep in our seats. Ted Dykstra’s version of The Importance of Being Earnest falls into this category, as he inserts needless physicality and self-reflexiveness in the presentation. This denies the play its gravitas by reducing it to something trivial and renders the production forgettable.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a story about two friends, Algernon (Alex McCooeye) and his friend Jack (Christopher Morris) who, having little else to do in their privileged lives, make up imaginary friends and relations in order to get away from real-life ones, who they can’t stand. The characters in this version of The Importance of Being Earnest roll their eyes, throw muffins at each other, and, most inappropriate of all, hide under the skirts of their beloveds in the presence of the latter’s (very proper) mother. They leap over settees and foot stools in a way that would have undoubtedly gotten them thrown into Bedlam in a second.  (more…)

The Book of Mormon: Excellent performances but the combination of satire and sappiness is both ridiculous and incongruous.

Reviewed by Iris Winston


The Book of Mormon

Photo. Joan Marcus

It is commendable, but not surprising that the Mormon Church took the high road when reacting to this satirical musical about their religion. The potty-mouthed satire of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (co-creators of South Park) and Robert Lopez (co-creator with Jeff Marx of Avenue Q) is too ridiculous to cause any harm to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Often fun, more often obscene, the combination of satire and sappiness is too incongruous to be classed as great. It is loud. It does poke fun at such other musicals and singers as The Lion King and Bono. But it could hardly be called incisive or consistently witty, except for those who find monstrous parodies of erect penises and loud repetition of “I have maggots in my scrotum” knee-slappingly funny.


Capital Critics Circle Announces Nominations for 2012-13 and Adds Student Award Category

News from Capital Critics Circle

OTTAWA, October 23, 2013 – The Capital Critics Circle today announced the nominees for the fourteenth annual English-language theatre awards for plays presented in the National Capital Region during the 2012-2013 season. The Circle has expanded this year’s list to include an award for the best student production.

The nominees are:



Past Reviews