NAC english

Kiviuq returns: poetry, story telling, performance, the makings of an epic in inuktitut.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Old Stock. A Refugee Love Story. A contemporary Jewish folktale superbly performed!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Old Stock.  Ben Caplan as the narrator. Photo: National Arts Centre English  Theatre

Old Stock : A Refugee Love Story  written by  Hannah Moscovitch. Songs by Ben  Caplan and Christian Barry. Directed by Christian Barry.

An old man emerging from the smoky top of an apparently abandoned train, the suggestion of a painful transportation that took place during WWII, suddenly transforms this structure into the site of a travelling theatre, resounding with music, that has “appeared” out of the past with its lively Klezmer Rumanian Jewish /Gypsy background bringing together a huge audience ready to hear its tales, including a love story that must be told.  With music that brings much to the dramatic intensity of the show, this theatrical company of theatre within theatre, is  transported into the present with its  four musicians/actors and a narrator-superb singer, dancer and actor Ben Caplan- under the direction of Christian Barry.

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Children of God : A Ritual Theatre event that changes the focus of Canadian theatre.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Photo: Emily Cooper
Children of God, Urban Ink

An Urban Ink (Vancouver) production in collaboration with NAC English Theatre, in association with Raven Theatre (Vancouver) and presented as part of the NAC’s Canada Scene Festival.
The first impression one has before the event begins, is an all-enveloping living breathing landscape that sweeps horizontally across the front of the newly named Babs Asper theatre space and carries us away into another realm of being. Huge roling clouds, suggestions of a liquid surface, flat rocks that continue far back into a horizon defined by the sky. Ominous mountain shapes rise on either side of Marshall McMahan’s breathtaking set design that is brought to life by Jeff Harrison’s shifting lighting effects , by Kris Boyd’s sound design and Corey Payette’s musical compositions executed by the four musicians tucked away on stage right just behind the landscape. The music dissolves into the surrounding site as the performance space engulfs us , exemplifying the tortured nature of this situation that unfolds on the stage.
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Kill Me Now packs a wallop at the NAC

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

It’s more than 40 years since a young, award-winning Canadian playwright named David Freeman told an interviewer that what he yearned for most in life was a meaningful physical relationship with another human being.

It was a poignant admission, because Freeman had been born with cerebral palsy. And throughout his life he resisted marginalization by a culture unable to get a handle on the notion that his kind were as capable as anyone else of an entire range of human emotions, including sexual need and desire.

These emotions were given caustic, funny utterance in Creeps, his 1971 stage triumph about the plight of disabled youth trapped in the coils of an unfeeling rehab centre. Its premiere at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre was a groundbreaking event — not simply because it broke  taboos by bringing subject matter like this to the stage, but because of its importance in legitimatizing Canadian drama at a time when playbills across the country were crammed with imported material from Broadway and London’s West End. (more…)

Kill Me Now: A Play About Courage and Love

Reviewed by Iris Winston

By Brad Fraser, A Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (Winnipeg) Production coproduced with the NAC English Theatre.

Disability comes in many guises. And each of the character’s in playwright Brad Fraser’s latest play, Kill Me Now, is disabled to a greater of lesser degree, whether through physical or mental challenges or emotional and relationship issues.

But, says Fraser in the program notes, “this is not a play about disability. It is a play about courage and love.”

So it is. At the centre is the love between father and son. In the next circle of love is that of a sister for the older brother who raised her and an aunt’s caring for her nephew. Then the love ripples out to include friends and lovers. (more…)

Vigilante at the NAC. Mythology trumps history in this outstanding production

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

 


Jan Alexandra Smith and the Donnelly brothers
GP Photography

It’s not just that the figures come out of the darkness. It’s rather
that they are marching in deadly and ritualized rhythm from some
hellish void, with a few musicians, mistily visible in the murky
backwaters of the NAC Theatre stage, eerily urging them along.
You’re gripped immediately by the beginning of Vigilante. And this
enthralling production from Edmonton’s Catalyst Theatre continues to
hold you like a vice through to its powerful climax. But you soon
realize that there will be no real light at the end of this tunnel.
The 19th Century saga of Southern Ontario’s turbulent Donnelly family
can hold no promise of cathartic release. Indeed, well over a century
later, this bloody tragedy continues to cast a shadow over Biddulph
township and its people, many of whom reportedly refuse to discuss it
even now. (more…)

Power, Passion and Rocking Vigilante Justice

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Photo: DBP Photographics
Vigilante

Written, composed and directed by Jonathan Christenson. A Production of  Catalyst Theatre (Edmonton) in collaboration with NAC English Theatre

On February 4, 1880, an armed mob murdered five members of the Donnelly family and burned their farm to the ground. No one has ever been convicted for the massacre of the notorious Irish immigrants, despite two inconclusive trials. The vigilante justice imposed upon them was the culmination of an ongoing feud and conflict over land between the Black Donnellys and their neighbours in the township of Biddulph, southern Ontario. (more…)

Vigilante: High Energy, Raging Fury, An Opera of Epic proportions.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Photo by David Cooper

Written composed and directed by Jonathan Christenson, produced by Catalyst Theatre (Edmonton) in collaboration with the NAC English Theatre

Massacre of the Donnelly family in Lucan, Ontario (1860) was one of the bloodiest crimes ever to take place in Canada.  The fact that it was never solved has kept historians, writers and researchers interested for many years. As rumours grew, imaginations were fueled and the family of seven boys and their parents, who had emigrated from Ireland, were transformed into a local legend of monstrous killers   who terrorized the community. Probably the best known  work  of fiction based on the murder,  was the Donnelly Trilogy, a verse drama  by James Reaney, first performed  in 1973 -1974 and finally published in 2000. It came to the National Arts Centre many years ago but, as I remember,  the impact of that event was minimal. The horror and the tragedy  did not click with a production that mainly foregrounded the literary qualities of the text that explained the story. (more…)

Season’s Greetings from Rosemary Thompson at the NAC

News from Capital Critics Circle

nacimage001 Thank-you to the NAC!!

Nous vous remercions tous!!

The CCC – Les critiques du CCC!!

Two Versions of A Christmas Carol in Ottawa: Jamie Portman confronts the NAC production with the production at The Gladstone. Much to contemplate!!!

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

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Andy Jones as Scrooge at the  NAC.                   

                                                                        John D. Huston as Dickens

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There’s no doubt that the National Arts Centre has unleashed an intriguing production of something this Yuletide season. And yes, it purports to be A Christmas Carol —   indeed the printed program tells us that  the Dickens classic has been adapted and directed by Jillian Keiley, the NAC’s restlessly inventive head of English theatre.
Before traditionalists go into meltdown over what’s taking place at the NAC Theatre, they may find comfort in the fact  that the arts centre doesn’t hold the  corner on the Scrooge market in Ottawa this December — not with John D. Huston holding court a few kilometres away at the Gladstone with his one-man version of A Christmas Carol. The two shows present a sharp contrast — with Huston unrepentantly drenched in tradition and the arts centre taking, shall we say, a more cavalier approach.

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Past Reviews