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

Student Review: Dense but Rewarding: The Metropolitan Opera’s The Exterminating Angel

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Photo Emon Hassan
The Exterminating Angel

Kellie MacDonald from the Theatre Criticism course of Patrick Langston, U of Ottawa

Widely considered the opera event of the season, this is the North American premiere of acclaimed British composer-conductor Thomas Adès’s newest work. With direction and libretto by Tom Cairns, The Exterminating Angel draws inspiration from the 1962 Luis Buñuel film of the same name. It is, at the same time, thrilling and torturously slow, depicting the descent into madness of a Sartrean dinner party nobody can leave. (Continue reading » )

Student review: Voices from the Front

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source-for-Voices from the Frong

photo courtesy of Plosive Theatre

Natasha Lomonossoff from the theatre criticism class of Patrick Langston at the University of Ottawa

With exceptional vocal performances and material inspired by letters of Canadian soldiers at the front of the two world wars, Plosive Productions’ work Voices from the Front strikes a tone that is both realistic and touching. The play, a work co-created by Teri Loretto-Valentik and John Cook and directed by the former, is presented in the tradition of the Gladstone’s annual radio play and narrates the experience of war in the format of a radio broadcast. The staging aspect of this format, however, takes a back seat to the letters and speeches which are read out loud to the audience; it is the delivery of these in which the show derives most of its emotional strength.

(Continue reading » )

Student review” ” Voices from the Front”, The Radio Show : Remembering the Voice

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Taylor Stewart  in the Theatre Criticism class of Patrick Langston.

Voices from the Front: The Radio Show is a pure, emotional power house that commemorates the brave men and women of the Canadian military. It delivers a performance as powerful as a a service at a Cenotaph yet is wholly different.

The show was written by John Cook and Teri Loretto-Valentik from the letters of Canadian Soldiers during World War I and II. This is a piece of verbatim theatre, meaning the majority of the text is preserved as it was written by the individuals who originally wrote the letters; however, they have been added to for the purpose of a flowing narrative or filling in details that would add to the fiction of the show. Using these letters Cook and Loretto-Valentik have created the characters of Will Cooper and his son, Wilfred Cooper. The two are enlisted men serving in WWI and WWII, respectively. The show consists primarily of the actors reading the letters that Will and Wilfred have written to their families. (Continue reading » )

Student review: What’s wrong with the Yees?

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Reviewed by Emily Blake in the theatre criticism class of Patrick Langston

The National Arts Center’s presentation of King of the Yees, written by Lauren Yee and directed by Sherry J. Yoon, is a cultural roller coaster in 120 minutes. King of the Yees takes place mid-rehearsal, as actors Donna (Donna Soares) and Raugi (Raugi Yu) bring to life the story of the real Lauren and Larry Yee. All is going swimmingly until the ‘real’ Larry (played by Jovanni Sy) and Lauren (played by Andrea Yu) appear on stage and things start to become unapologetically funny. The audience learns that Lauren is also the playwright of this production and her aim is to bring to life the tales of a dying Chinatown and find understanding in her place within it. The cast of this cultural masterpiece know how to make audience interaction an integral part of the show, and they are not afraid to jump on and off the stage to make the audience feel as though they are in this too. (Continue reading » )

Student Review: You Are Happy? at the Great Canadian Theatre Company

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Are You Happy

You Are Happy
Photo : Andrew Alexander

Reviewed by Kellie MacDonald in the theatre criticism class of Patrick Langston

Rope, razor blades, a bottle of pills — they’re not your typical punchlines, but this isn’t your typical comedy, either. Originally written in French by Rébecca Déraspe and translated in English by Leanna Brodie, You Are Happy leaves you with a sinking feeling in your gut that, as perfect as things seem, we, individually and collectively, are hurtling towards ruin. This absurd
dark comedy, directed by CBC alumnus  Adrienne Wong, opens the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s 2017-2018 season.

(Continue reading » )

Student Review: Educating Rita at the Ottawa Little Theatre – A feminist play about growing from the inside out

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Educating Rita

Photo Maria Vartanova

Reviewed by Eden Patterson in the Critcism class of P. Langston

A hairdresser walks, not into a bar, but into a university office. It’s the 80’s in Northern England. Rita (26), the hairdresser, is disappointed with her life. She longs for an education but feels the net of society’s expectations drowning her into a sea of an unhappy marriage and into the deep depths of ignorance. Frank, an old, pessimistic, student-loathing alcoholic professor finds the quick-witted and relentless Rita in his office. Over the course of many weeks, Frank guides Rita on her path to higher education and towards a final exam. However, as it is put in the show, “if you wanna change, you gotta do it from the inside.”
(Continue reading » )

Student review: Bent is an evocative production that finds it feet towards the end

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Reviewed October 18 by Natasha Lomonossoff

TotoToo Theatre’s production of Bent at the Gladstone was a laudable effort, despite a few inconsistencies that detracted from its overall impact. Director Josh Kemp’s take on Martin Sherman’s historically significant play was most successful in establishing the dark events and atmosphere that foreground it: that is, the persecution of gays in Nazi Germany. Bringing this lesser known evil to light, the play focuses on an openly gay Berliner named Max who, along with his partner Rudy, are forced to flee the city after two Nazi guards come to their apartment with an arrest warrant for a companion they picked up at a club just the previous night. The pair embark on a fruitless journey all throughout the country to escape, as they are eventually caught and placed on a train heading towards Dachau. Unimaginable brutality and suffering only follows from there. (Continue reading » )

Student review: Opening night performance of Bent

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Reviewed by  Carly Jevcak

What starts off as a booze and drug filled night turns into hell for Max as he brings home a man wanted by the Nazis, which upends his life. The opening performance of Bent by TotoToo Theatre at the Gladstone Theatre was a harrowing experience, but that says more about the content rather than the production. After being caught by the Gestapo in 1934 Berlin for being a gay man, Max is sent to the Dachau concentration camp where the only ray of sunshine is his developing secret relationship with fellow prisoner, Horst. The men try their hardest to survive under the most trying of conditions and find ways to subvert the prying eyes of the guards.

(Continue reading » )

Student review: Bent at the Gladstone.

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Bent photo Maria Vartanova

Reviewed by Claire McCracken

Bent is a show with many warnings. The list in the program goes on and on: extreme violence, murder, rape; this is all too real for a play set in Nazi Germany. ToToToo Theatre, the only company in Ottawa that exclusively performs LGBTQ theatre, brings this Tony-award nominated play to life as best as they can. Dealing with difficult subject matter is a challenge, and director Josh Kemp deals with it in a way that avoided melodrama and told the story quite well. (Continue reading » )

Student Review: Fresh Meat Festival

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Reviewed by Crysania Sprott   THE 4333 A

The second evening of the sixth Fresh Meat festival which was held at the Arts Court theatre on Friday, October 13th offered up an nice selection of new works by artists in the Ottawa theatre community. The first three performances presented a good variety of pieces, and offered something for everyone.

 Le Crisp Bleu       

The first work of the evening provided the most lighthearted and frivolous fun piece of the show. “Le Crip Bleu”, which was conceived by Michele Decottignies, gave us an intriguing twist on a burlesque performance. While the show provided the expected dancing and stripping to sultry jazz music, the twist was that the performers (Frank Hull and Alan Shain) were two men in electric wheelchairs. The piece employed very creative use of wheelchairs to emulate burlesque moves, but adapted them to suit bodies which are otherwise limited. In this way, “Le Crip Bleu was able to challenge conventions of what is considered beautiful and sexy, while also simply being a lot of fun, both for the performers, who were visibly having a great time, and for the audience, who fed off their infectious energy and shouted and cheered them on. (Continue reading » )

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