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

Ta Douleur au théâtre français du CNA. Un troublant exercice de style qui assimile la danse à une manière de confronter les névroses

Reviewed by on    Performance Art, Professional Theatre, Théâtre français  


Photo: Ruel.  Artistes Anne Le Beau et Francis Ducharme

La Compagnie Sibyllines, basée à Montréal, explore les rapports entre l’expression corporelle et le théâtre depuis un bon moment. Il suffit de regarder les créations telles que de l’Opéra de quat’ sous, Woyzek, Elles et bien d’autres où le mouvement synchronisé des comédiens devient un langage parallèle à celui de la parole, une tentative d’incarner l’essence même de la création scénique.

Ta douleur est une nouvelle incursion dans la mise en scène du corps qui évacue la parole, ou presque, puisque les quelques citations chuchotées paraissent quasi banales, malgré les références à Pétrarque, au cinéaste algérien Azzedine Meddour et au groupe hip hop indépendantiste québécois Loco Locass. Ce combat entre deux danseurs issus des formations  solides, classiques ou contemporaines,  se transforme en une rencontre passionnante entre un homme et une femme qui exhibent l’expression de toutes les douleurs possibles.

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Hamlet (solo): A Party Piece at the National Arts Centre

Reviewed by on    Performance Art  


Photo: Andrew Kenneth Martin.

HAMLET (solo) is a one-man play created by featured actor Raoul Bhaneja and director Robert Ross Parker. It’s a slightly truncated version of Shakespeare’s HAMLET in which Mr. Bhaneja, plays, or rather indicates, all seventeen characters. Working on a bare flat stage surrounded by black drapes and using no props, Mr. Bhaneja wears a simple black long-sleeved tee-shirt and black jeans. The lighting is utilitarian and the house lights are only dimmed to half, so the actor is clearly visible when he moves into the audience.

First let me say that if you’re not pretty familiar with HAMLET, despite the detailed synopsis in the program, you’ll find it confusing. It does provide an ego boost for those in the audience who clearly follow it. Mr. Bhaneja is physically very facile and uses primarily body language to delineate the characters. However in playing all seventeen roles the emotion and depth of the original characters is lost. We’re left with hollow physicalizations. Granted it’s quite a feat of memorization, but so is any solo show. Think, for example, of I AM MY OWN WIFE, A THOUSAND EYES and the work of Pierre Brault. These are solo pieces that present many characters, but with great depth.

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The War of 1812: video cabaret that spares no one.

Reviewed by on    Performance Art, Summer Theatre 2013  


Photo. Michael Cooper.

Gasbags, drunks, popinjays and cowards: that pretty much describes the leaders, political and military, who cooked up and commanded — if you’ll excuse the term — The War of 1812 according to this deeply cynical, intensely theatrical and ultimately enervating show. Writer/director Michael Hollingsworth spares no one in his recounting of the war that’s commonly said to have defined Canada.

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White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Nassim Soleimanpour. Where Is The Red Rabbit??

Reviewed by on    Performance Art, Professional Theatre  


Felaki theatre in Cairo, Performed in Arabic by Khaled Abol Naga in April, 2013.

I saw it Wednesday evening with Peter Froehlich but a different actor takes to the stage every evening, The reason will soon become evident as you watch the play.  The stage is almost bare. There is a chair, a ladder, a table. Two  glasses of water are placed on the table. There is some  simple lighting and  65 places for the audience placed in the front half of the Arts Court Library that has been slightly raked. Thank goodness.  Catriona Leger comes on stage to thank us for coming and to invite  Peter Froehlich to appear. He walks on stage,  she hands  him a sealed envelope and then exits, leaving Peter standing there with the envelope. He opens it..and starts reading………And thus begins the play.

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Delusion: Laurie Anderson’s performance art is a bit like a sound and light show.

Reviewed by on    Performance Art, Professional Theatre  

Delusion, the multi-talented Laurie Anderson’s one-woman performance, is a bit like a sound and light show, evocative to hear and interesting to view, but without substance.  Before proceeding, I have to admit in the interests of full disclosure that I had never seen Anderson before.  Consequently, unlike many critics, I cannot compare this work with previous productions in her decades-long career.

Delusion is a multimedia show designed, composed and written by Anderson.  The ostensibly simple set consists of three large screens, two on either side of the stage, and one upstage center.  Downstage center is a low and, at the opening, abstract form, with colored pulsating lights playing on it.  (Later, it morphs into a sofa.)  Lights go down, two screens turn blue, the central one depicts flames, which transform into swirling autumn leaves.  Red and blue are the paramount colors of the show. Time passes; Laurie Anderson enters, an androgynous figure wearing a white shirt, necktie, and pants, and walks to a podium to pick up her trademark violin, an electronic, but stringless instrument.  She also makes use of a synthesizer.  Although advance publicity claims that this piece was “conceived as a series of short mystery plays,” music, particularly in the first half, often dominates, or perhaps extends, spoken language.  Certainly, it is music, along with the visual projections, that provide the performance’s emotional elements.

While Anderson’s stories are enigmatic, it is not clear in what sense they are “mystery plays.”  At times she poses questions that the stories address ambiguously. Tales and images of loss – some sad, others funny – run through the play: the America that once was, the passing of Anderson’s mother, the 19th century Russian philosopher Nikolai Federov’s vision of resurrecting ancestors using technology.   In one of the more amusing moments Anderson recounts a dream of giving birth to her dog in a hospital, assisted by sympathetic nurses and a beaming doctor.

Stylistically and purposefully,Anderson distances herself from the audience through technology.  Even when she speaks in her husky voice, it is electronically modified to a degree.  For her male doppelganger Fenway Bergamot, she uses a voice filter that moves her voice into a male register, with the result that it sounds like a slowed down audio tape.  Unfortunately, the filter makes Bergamot’s speech hard to understand and undercuts the dialogue between the two characters who share one body.

While the production gives a sense of movement through its sometimes reverberating, throbbing, passionate music as well as its changing images and lighting, Anderson moves very little.  It is the technology that is the star and she the mastermind. 

Boston, Sept. 30, 2011

Delusion (Laurie Anderson)

ArtsEmerson at the Cutler Majestic, Boston ,MA

Commissioned by Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad, Vancouver;

Barbicanite 10,London

Production Credits

  Laurie Anderson-Music, Text and Visual Design

Amy Khoshbin-Video Design and Live Mix

Rus Snelling-Lighting Design and Production Management

Dave Cook-Front of House Audio

Maryse Alberti-Video Director of Photography

Toshiaki Ozawa-Additional Video

Shane Koss-Audio Rig Design

Konrad Kaczmarek-Audio Software Design

Ned Steinberger-Violin Design

Bob Currie-Story Team

Rande Brown-Story Team

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