Shaw Festival 2014

Ottawa Fringe 2014. Chase and Stacy Present Joyride

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Normally, it would be enough to report that Joyride is a car wreck of a show, devoid of a modicum of true inventiveness. Trouble is, one of its co-creators is Oregon’s Chase Padgett whose wonderful Six Guitars was a highlight of the 2014 Fringe. So one expects more from him than this witless piece of sophomoric excess. Padgett’s partner in crime is an irritating bundle of mannerisms named Stacey Hallal. We first encounter her floundering about the stage like a beached whale while Padgett makes electronic sounds on a keyboard. Then she moves into the audience to portray an emotionally unstable pest who keeps disrupting Padgett’s mind-reading session. By this point, we’re discovering that the feebleness of a sketch’s set-up is rendered even more feeble by the banality of the pay-off moment. Among other treats, if you can call them that, are the sounds of copulation — pants, groans and assorted shrieks perfomed in darkness to the accompaniment of further electronic noises — and the spectacle of a slack-jawed hillbilly repeatedly botching up a televised tribute to the wonders of the rutabaga. Oh well, there’s nothing like mocking the lower orders to remind us of our own brilliance and superiority.

A Stacey Hallal Production

Arts Court Theatre

Ottawa Fringe 2014. Kitt and Jane. An interactive survival guide to the near-post-apolyptic future

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

A show with mixed messages that seemed to be carried away by itself. 2 fourteen year olds in a grade 9 class are giving a talk about the salmon population and it rapidly becomes a training session to help us survive the coming apocalypse ( word not to be spoken!) of an earth that is dying , poisoned by toxic waste, and everything else. The whole list of those who are killing the planet comes down on us as the two children “play” at dying. Natural acting is indicated by mumbling and talking too quickly but there were images to watch if one couldn’t catch all the words. A lot of theatrics, a lot of naïve childish playing, a lot of sophisticated computer work, tv influences, shadow puppets, technological support,  an actress who dominates the stage with her beautiful singing voice and great stage presence, and an ending that completely subverts the message so all of it seems that we were the objects of a not so childish manipulation. It appeared that no one was in charge directing this. That might have helped.

And an audience that rose for a standing ovation??

Kitt and Jane by Kathleen Greenfield , Ingrid Hansen and Rod Peter Jr.

SNAFU productions

Ottawa Fringe 2014. Wunderjammer

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

One good aspect of this performance was the sporadic use of  the Prague inspired Black light puppet figures . They introduced the evening , appeared in certain sketches and announced a playful atmosphere which dominated the evening of non stop comic sketches . The comic timing was very good, the pace was good, the skits followed each other rapidly, the evening progressed with no pauses and a lot of the individual characters that the actors produced worked very well. In fact they all appeared to be talented comics. Of course Gélinas is one of the more talented fixtures with the Company of Fools and his work is always excellent. I There were a few simple props and a curtain, suggesting the stage set for each “act” and that was it,but it was the writing that made them stumble. The skit I liked was the one in the science lab where two scientists are trying to uncover the mystery of the man eating flower…that looks like a daffodil. Also Richard Gélinas as the hyper turbaned Calif looking for a new “wife” was deliciously perverse …somehow though a lot of it didn’t fly. The ideas were not sharp enough, the humour fell flat. Very unequal show with people who could definitely have worked with much better material.

Wunderjammer by Richard Hamphill

A production of Punchbag Playhouse

Comedy sketches with Richard Gélinas, Jordan Hancey, Gabrielle Lazarovitz and Victoria Luloff

Ottawa Fring 2014 : A Mind Full of Dopamine

Reviewed by Laurie Fyffe

A Shapshot on the Fringe:

A Mind Full of Dopamine written & performed by Rory Ledbetter

An energized, speedy and focused performer, Ledbetter knows a thing or two about how to win at cards. But the key to this mile-a-minute tour of the poker table is that he also knows about losing, and the monkey mind set that compels the desperate to pile up their chips and swim with sharks. When debt meets desperation, Ledbetter is a consummate performer, driving for his life with the devil in his rear view mirror. What he makes visible in this descent of man into hellish habit is the terrible thrill of fighting for your life as you crash headlong into a disaster that just keeps giving. You can almost see the piles of poker chips amid the smoke and taste the double lattes. We want Rory to stop, but somehow can’t pull ourselves away as we experience the terrifying rush of actually watching a human being plunge into self-inflicted chaos – again and again. What level of will power, luck, or mysterious divine intervention does it take to re-claim your life when you’ve given it over to an all-powerful force – that lives inside you. Here’s the deal – place your Fringe chips on Dopamine. – Snapshot on the Fringe by Laurie Fyffe<=

Plays at Arts Court Library

Jamie Portman : Moya O-Connell Shines As Tracy Lord In The Shaw Festival’s revival of The Philadelphia Story

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Shaw_Philadelphia_WebGallery7

Photo: Emily Cooper

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. — The chief reason for seeing the Shaw Festival’s revival of The Philadelphia Story is the presence of the incandescent Moya O’Connell in the role of Tracy Lord, the captivating self-absorbed heiress who finally learns to be a human being on the eve of her second marriage.

Philip Barry’s comedies can be hazardous undertakings, requiring a particular tone and cadence in delivery, and rippling with the kind of nuance and subtlety that helps flesh out a particular social strata. Barry was writing about the rich — indeed, some would say he was in love with the rich in plays like The Philadelphia Story and Holiday — but that didn’t stop him from gently mocking the pretensions of the very world he embraced.

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Past Reviews