Everyone should see this one man event because whether one agrees with the ideas expressed here or not, it shows how a fearless political activist turned performer goes straight for the theatrical jugular – a rare occurrence in Canadian Theatre.
One could say that he has taken as his model Ric Mercer’s style of political exposé, drowning his enemies in gales of laughter, although it is clear that Salerno is much more radical than our man from Newfoundland. Rob Salerno tells all about the Conservatives, and their leader, at least we get Salerno’s perspective and it makes for an evening of surprises. Gasps, gurgles, guffaws and muted giggles great the whole series of revelations that pop up on the screen at the back of the stage. . Ottawan’s are so polite but then it is also the kind of show that works especially well in Ottawa where the main characters are the local MP.s
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Dealing with depression, abuse, suicide and drunk driving, Alain Chauvin’s Life takes on many of the heavy and important issues youth deal with every day. While the play did have some good elements – its use of music, lyrics and audio-visuals were quite touching- it ultimately did not achieve the depth needed for an exploration of such disturbing and ever-present issues as it strove to explore. The story of Jacob, a high school student dealing with the death of his mothers as well as questions of his own sexuality and place in the world, seems to be a run-through of problems that could affect a 17-year-old. The play bites off too much and, as such, the ultimate message is lost. Does the story deal with grief? Does it deal with questions of sexuality? Or does it deal with the perils of drunk driving? All are mentioned to some extent, but none are really explored. The play would have been better served by a more focused topic which would have allowed for more depth of feeling. The acting also left something to be desired. However, the topics Life deals with are all worthwhile and the play does hold potential for growth. The set in particular, was very well used and there was an believability to the script, even if it did lack subtlety at times. There was also a passion that came out of the play- it was evident the project meant a lot to all those involved. However, ultimately, the project did lack focus and subtlety which would have connected the story with the emotions.
Who in this world is sane? This is the question Kainz Players’ dark comedy Preshrunk asks. Five psychiatric patients who arrive for their usual Tuesday meeting with their psychiatrist. When he does not show up, mild chaos ensues as each of the patient’s problems are revealed both through their discussions with each other and monologues. Soon, it is revealed by a detective posing as a grief counselor that the doctor was killed, and the most likely suspects are those in the room. Disbelief soon turns into more revelations, this time with the spotlight turned on the doctor. As more information is disclosed, one truly begin to question just who in this world actually has it together or, in fact, whether this hallowed state exists at all. Directed by the New Ottawa Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Paul Dervis, the play is masterfully put together. The transitions from scenes and monologues are seamless and infuse the production with flow. One of the best performances came from Jerome Bourgault, who portrayed a patient, the sarcastic but insecure Len, with a precision that made it possible to hate and pity him at the same time. His skill was closely followed by Charlie Ebbs’ with his portrayal of narcissistic and hilarious patient Antoine whose monologue had the room in stitches. As more of us succumb to depression, anxiety and the like, questioning our own state of reason has become an increasingly common activity. Preshrunk helps put this sentiment into words and reveals the complexity not only of our own psyches but the nature of our relationships with each other.
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What stories did you create as a kid to help you manage the world? Were you a dragon-slayer? An hypnotically beautiful princess? And, now an adult, what stories help you navigate a smaller but no less puzzling world? Nicolas Di Gaetano and Emily Pearlman, the creative duo at the heart of Ottawa’s Mi Casa Theatre, invite us to ponder such questions – along with simply reveling in their fantastical style of theatre – in this new work in progress. Using a homemade armoire as the major set piece and enclosing the audience in a rough-hewn space like a child would make for a living room performance, Di Gaetano and Pearlman do what they do best: evoke memories, fragile hope, visions of fantasy and reality, and a profound sadness as they unveil a story about two young siblings. They also make some pretty good whale noises and sing original tunes. Is the new show as good as Countries Shaped Like Stars, their fringe hit of two years ago? It hasn’t yet found that same degree of lightness to buoy up the heavy stuff, but it’s well on its way.
Mi Casa Theatre
At Saint Paul’s Eastern United Church