Stratford Festival

Stratford Festival 2013: Two queens of the stage embody two queens of history

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

 Stratford Festival: Two queens of the stage embody two queens of history

Seanna McKenna and Lucy Peacock. Photo: Don Dixon.    Postmedia News. 4 juin, 2013


STRATFORD, Ont. — For sheer dramatic excitement, there is nothing else in the Stratford Festival’s marathon round of recent openings to match Mary Stuart.And by the time we reach the blazing confrontation that erupts in Act Two, it’s clear that this is one for the memory books, with two remarkable actresses at the peak of their powers. There is the magnificently regal Elizabeth l of Seana McKenna, a monarch razor-sharp in her intelligence and wit, fiercely protective of her own status and of the nation she rules, yet touchingly vulnerable. In the other corner we find Lucy Peacock brilliantly defining the often-infuriating complexities of Mary Queen of Scots……

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Sophocles and Christopher Plummer celebrate the power of language.

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

plummer7096719.bin  Postmedia News, The Ottawa Citizen. Photo: David Hou

STRATFORD, Ont. • In one theatre, we have Christopher Plummer reminiscing about the writings that have nurtured and inspired him through 82 years of life.

A few blocks away, in another venue, we have the 2,400-year-old Sophocles tragedy Elektra, reasserting its timelessness in a production with astonishing fusion of sight and sound that should even convert those who profess to hate classical Greek theatre.

It’s an interesting pairing for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s August openings — two offerings that may seem poles apart in sensibility. But there is a link between Plummer’s elegantly witty one-man show and Sophocles’s blood-soaked saga of family carnage.

Both events celebrate the power of language.


This uncanny one-man show is as strikingly insightful production of Hirsch

Reviewed by Jamie Portman


STRATFORD, Ont. – The Stratford Festival has boldly premiered three new works for its July round of openings _ but with mixed results.One, a potentially exciting musical about Klondike poet Robert W. Service, is a damp disappointment. Another reveals a fine Canadian playwright merely marking time.  The third offering, a one-man show called Hirsch, is a triumph.

Yet, how many theatergoers will even recognize the name of Canadian theatre icon John Hirsch? Well, even if they don`t they`ll quickly realize they`re in the presence of an arresting personality _ the sort of man who will demolish an enemy with the lofty declaration that “your intellect is nothing compared to my intellect .


The Stratford Festival 2012: 42nd Street is Gaudy good fun

Reviewed by Herbert Simpson

dale88fc48d94231b65549111ee2ebfe Photo: David Hou

Ok, it’s a corny show. But it’s gaudy good fun. This ultimate Broadway showbiz story, 42nd Street came back from a 1933 blockbuster film starring Ruby Keeler in Busby Berkeley’s elaborate dance routines and became a megahit musical, recreating its nostalgia and melodrama onstage. Still about becoming a star and creating a hit show, it also re-established tap dancing as a creative Broadway show element after tap had been dropped from new shows for decades.  42nd Street ran for nine years on Broadway and re-introduced that kitschy line, “You’re going out there a youngster. But you’ve got to come back a star!” It also became a tragic Broadway legend on opening night when producer David Merrick had to stop the raucous final applause to announce that its legendary director/choreographer Gower Champion had succumbed to cancer in his hotel room just a few hours before.


Stratford Festival : You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

Reviewed by Herbert Simpson

Archness Alert: If you love the comic strip Peanuts and agree with this show’s program-book writers that it is art to be likened to Dickens, Balzac and Chaplin, this is the musical show for you.  If, however, you’re not a fan of cutesy, repetitive comic-pages cartoon stories – like Cathy, Beetle Bailey, or in this case, Peanuts, you may find this simple re-enactment of the strip the equivalent of a a ride on a small tricycle when you’ve paid for a limousine.  Stratford’s staging is impeccable and splendidly cast.  Director/choreographer Donna Feore makes it play like a dream-party with masterful entertainment. But I guess I’m too old and diabetic to be fed cotton candy.  Pogo, Doonesbury, si; but this is just the cartoon’s same old bland routines played out.


Stratford 2011: What have you done with the scissors? The Homecomings’opening speach gives the audience “frissons”.

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Harold Pinter’s unspoken menace: Stratford’s The Homecoming the only hit among August openings

Postmedia News August 17, 2011

STRATFORD, Ont. – “What have you done with the scissors?”

Why should this opening speech from Nobel laureate Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming set off a frisson of unease in an Avon Theatre audience?

Consider it an early signal that the Stratford Festival is firmly on course with its splendid revival of a landmark play.

Indeed, The Homecoming is the one triumph among a trio of August openings that also include a decorative but dull revival of Moliere’s The Misanthrope, and a bungled reading of Michel Tremblay’s Hosanna.


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