Ottawa Fringe 2016

How iRan: A thoughtful and intriguing production

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Disruption and reconstruction: That’s the experience of regular immigrants and refugees alike as their lives are first scrambled and then rebuilt in a new land. It’s also to some extent what those in the host country experience as the existence they’ve always known is challenged by people with different perspectives, beliefs and languages.

Now disruption and reconstruction come to the Ottawa Public Library’s main branch thanks to How iRan, a site-specific iPod play – well, actually three plays – by Calgary-based playwright Ken Cameron. The Ottawa Fringe Festival is presenting the production.

Based on interviews with new Canadians and a prisoner of conscience, Cameron’s text is about an Iranian man named Ramin who leaves behind his wife and son when he comes to Canada. Once here, he lands a job as a security guard in a library where he meets the librarian Emily. Complications, some serious and some humorous, ensue including the eventual arrival of his son Hossein and Ramin’s wife.

Cameron, who also directs, has made an audio recording of the narrative, which is played out in 25 scenes. He’s put the play on three differently coloured iPods, each containing about one-third of the entire piece. Audience members get an iPod with the narrative order shuffled and then, prompted by the recording, go to different stations in the library to listen to scenes in a random order. In effect, each audience member hears a customized play. (more…)

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

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

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.

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Ottawa Fringe 2016: Best Picture, Grade 8 , A Tension de Detail- There is a winner here!!

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

Best Picture
RibbitRePublic (Jersey City, N.J.), Studio Léonard-Beaulne
It’s a near-breathless sprint, but they get it done: Jon Paterson, Kurt Fitzpatrick and Rachel Kent lampoon every Best Picture Oscar winner ever (80, if you’re counting) by enacting a mashed up excerpt or at least injecting a title into the show’s brisk dialogue. Part of the fun is guessing the name of the movie, say, How Green Was My Valley (1941) or Ordinary People (1980), before it’s spoken. Equally entertaining is how the trio segues from one film to the next or chucks a couple of movies into the verbal Mixmaster so that The Hunchback of Notre Dame suddenly appears aboard the 1935 version of Mutiny on the Bounty (you do know the connection between the two films, don’t you?). The show sometimes bogs down under its own cleverness, but it still manages to emerge as the kind of bright-eyed performance with zero social value that you’d find only at a fringe festival.

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

Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

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.

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Ottawa Fringe 2016: Best Picture is a Treat for Oscar Buffs

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

 
Best Picture is a cheeky romp through more than 80 years of Academy
Award winners. The script emanates from the nimble brain of Kurt
Patrick who also shares the stage with the versatile Rachel Kent and
the hilarious Jon Paterson in zipping entertainingly through decades
of Oscar history in only 60 minutes.
A warning, however: this show will work best for film buffs, Without
some knowledge of the movies themselves, you'll miss a lot of the
witty allusions. But this show from Vancouver's RibbitRePublic is
smartly conceived: it knows that even the most savvy filmgoer is
likely to know nothing about such forgotten winners as Wings or
Cavalcade, yet it's still creative enough to find ways to get them
into the mix.
With Jeff Culbert directing, the tone is one of witty irreverence —
but these people do have the good sense to show respect for
Schindler's List and they also tip-toe cautiously when it comes to
Gentlemen's Agreement. Some of the spoofing does fizzle, but in a show
like this there's always the promise of redemption seconds later —
that's how quickly it moves. So its pleasures are substantial, and
include hilarious send-ups of The Silence Of The Lambs and The King's
Speech, a mischievous pairing of the Oscar-winning Going My Way with
the horrors of The Exorcist, and a caustically funny reminder that
Marlon Brando was frequently incomprehensible in his Oscar-winning
performance The Godfather.

(Best Picture: Studio Leonard-Beaulne to June 25)

    Ottawa Fringe Theatre 2016: “Best Picture’” reveals the Academy Award ritual at its best!

    Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

    Best Picture created and designed by Rick Cousins, produced by RibbitRePublic Theatre Co, from Vancouver.

    We are on the red carpet with a host, a male actor and one female actor. They are going to take us on an ultra rapid journey through all 89 Academy award winning films, just to refresh our memory. The talk is glib host-style banter. They greet all the great stars as they walk in…!OH there is Judi Dench, there is so and so ..give her a hand” as the public files into the  Leonard Beaulne Studio. No doubt to give this more of an Academy award feel they should have programmed it in a bigger theatre but the three stage performers, made up for the small space with lots of vibrant energy.

    It involves taking us on a rapid fly-by history of the Academy Awards by making quick funny remarks, acting out short skits and snapping witty references about different shows, so that the titles of the shows find their way into the discussion and can be easily identified. Linked to all the Wayne and Shuster style humour (at times) there is voice and body mimicry, (Al Pacino from Rain Man was one of the great moments) there are jokes which slide between various shows so that they all make fun of each other and themselves.. as the stars connect and jostle themselves into first place. It was very rapid and sometimes we lost the sense of who was referring to what but I gather in a town like Toronto where one of the worlds biggest Film Festivals takes place, film buffs will have no trouble at all.

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    Ottawa Fringe Theatre 2016: “2 For Tea” and the idea of being British!!

    Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

    2 for Tea staged by British to British with James and Jamesy, from Sussex UK.

    A new style of fringe performance where the 2 actors capture all the iconic moments,the  popular images, and the  historical references that make “Britishness”. It’s nothing more than that! But because these elements are so popular, people catch them all immediately and they roar with laughter.

    What is this “Britishness” then? It’s a cup of tea slithering out from the wings on the end of a gloved hand suggesting British Music Hall theatre,   it’s a full tea pot pouring out tea for that proverbial “Brew” on  Coronation street.  It’s even oblique references to the “tea party” in Alice in Wonderland; it’s placing the cups in exactly the perfect position on the table because it’s all about style, and good manners that become ridiculously overblown but not so for this very British show.

    It’s also about pop culture icons like Mick Jagger _with the swivelling hips and the skinny legs – ; it’s about the civilised and extremely polite Englishman with the bowler hat who epitomizes a mass of British images including financiers on Fleet street and the clowns in Beckett’s theatre; it’s about being caught in the bombing of London during the World War II, it’s about the sense of family with the elderly parents who are awaiting the end and the final voyage that brings them up to their ultimate resting place with smiling faces, the stiff upper lip and all that.

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    Ottawa Fringe 2016 : Fugee Is A Show That Deserves Attention

    Reviewed by Jamie Portman

    British playwright Abi Morgan has always sought to strike a connection between the political and the personal — and her influences come from the left. She reveres the thorny lack of compromise shown over the years by a radical filmmaker like Ken Loach, and she makes no apologies about injecting unabashed polemic into her own work. But she is also so good at her craft that producers were ready to entrust her with the screenplay for The Iron Lady, a portrait of a major political figure, Margaret Thatcher, that she and her family hated.

    Morgan is, in brief, a writer worthy of attention, and Ottawa’s Third Wall Academy deserves our warmest thanks for introducing Fringe audiences to Fugee, a lacerating account of how the system is failing refugee children. In her 2008 script, Morgan was zeroing in on the British situation, but with its sense of emotional horror and hopelessness, the play’s implications occupy a wider canvas.

    The central character, Kojo, is a child from the Ivory Coast, an innocent whose once idyllic existence was brutally changed forever on his 11th birthday. When he first meet him, he has seemingly made it to safety and a new life. But he has no English and no passport, and his age is in question. Even within the security of a children’s refugee centre, the system is about to start tearing him apart — be it through latent prejudice, outright hostility, or bureaucratic indifference. And we keep being pulled back to the play’s first horrific image — of Kojo fatally knifing another youth on the street. And we keep asking why that tragedy happened.

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    Ottawa Fringe 2016: Patrick Langston has seen – Lovely Lady Lump, 2 for Tea and V.R.Dunne.

    Reviewed by Patrick Langston

    Lovely Lady Lump,
    Lana Schwarcz (Melbourne, Australia)
    Arts Court Theatre
    Lana Schwarcz is a stand-up comic, so it’s not surprising that her solo, autobiographical show about breast cancer is a comedy. She tells jokes to an unseen radiation technologist during treatments. A flakey art therapist for cancer patients gets spoofed. Cancer itself is pilloried when Schwarcz, reversing roles by embodying the disease, depicts it as a second-rate performer in a comedy club who tells jokes like, “When I was a kid, I was really good at hide-and-seek. Sometimes people didn’t find me for years.” Schwacrz is open about herself, revisiting the terrible moment when she got her diagnosis, exploring how disease can threaten your self-identity by turning you into a body part, and then putting that part in the context of a whole person by baring her breasts on stage as she re-enacts the endless radiation sessions. Many have found the show at once hilarious and tear-provoking. Finding it neither, your reviewer mostly hoped it would end soon. You decide for yourself.

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    Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016: Miss Bruce’s War brings 1940s Alberta to our doorstep

    Reviewed by Rajka Stefanovska

    Miss Bruce’s War
    Created by Jean Duce Palmer
    Produced by Elmwood School_Elmwood Theatre

    Playwright Jean Duce Palmer wrote Miss Bruce’s War based on her own experience as a young schoolteacher in ruralAlberta during World War II. This semi-biographical work brings back a different era – a time where people sang patriotic song and helped the war effort any way they could.

    Miss Bruce gets a three month job teaching a small group of children who happen to be of a German origin. Her assignment starts in January – the worst and the coldest part of year. The journey is long and tiring, she is cold and hungry, and her only wish is to reach her destination as soon as possible and get a chance to rest. As the story unfolds, Miss Bruce undergoes changes. She matures a little after every single event during her short stay in the area. Prejudice and insensitivity towards her neighbours disappear and she learns a lot about love and friendship. (more…)

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