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

The Merry Wives of Windsor in the park: Falstaff overwhelmed by a solid team of Fools.

Reviewed by on    Photo by Barb Gray, Professional Theatre, Summer Theatre 2013  

 Merry2GetAttachment.aspx                                                                                 Katie Ryerson, ‘Matthew John Lundvall, Melanie Karin.  Photo: by Barb Gray. 

This production is probably one of the most successful Shakespeare adaptations the Company of Fools has ever done. Their comic style has solidified into a performance that exudes a coherent, maturely playful humour; the text is well articulated so every word is clear, but never stilted; the playful distance is always fore grounded by the actors themselves which is something that gives the performers a sense that they are in control, guiding the parody, thus making the humour all the more sophisticated, helped of course by Vanessa Imeson’s costumes that are both beautiful and appropriate for this lusty comedy.  I suspect that Catriona Leger’s work is behind this, which shows she is quickly becoming a local director to be taken very seriously. The Merry Wives of Windsor fore grounds that drunken rascal Falstaff who played an important role as comic relief in the King Henry IV series.

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Master Clown Jesse Buck is back with BUBKUS at the Gladstone.July 12

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre, Summer Theatre 2013  

After nearly four years on tour with Cirque du Soleil, master clown Jesse Buck is bringing his innovative one-man hit show BUBKUS, back to his hometown, to celebrate the show’s ten-year anniversary. BUBKUS will be performed in Ottawa as part of the Gladstone Theatre’s One Night Only series, on July 12, 2013 (with Artbeat Theatre Group’s, Barely Even There).
The purpose of BUBKUS is to show the audience the beauty and possibility of a play without words. The word “bubkus” is Yiddish for “nothing”, and BUBKUS was in fact created out of nothing. Using only a blanket, a pillow and a toothbrush, Jesse’s clown takes the audience through an epic fairytale, featuring fearsome snakes, giants, and dark magic. It is a timeless story told only with play and imagination.

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L’Amour à l’Agenda au Théâtre de l’Ile. Ce Michel Marc Bouchard estival est surtout une question de goût.

Reviewed by on    Professional Theatre, Summer Theatre 2013, Théâtre français  


David Jenniss et Frédérique Thérrien …

Photo: Théâtre de l’Ile

Il est difficile d’associer le nom de Michel Marc Bouchard (auteur québécois d’œuvres aussi recherchéess que Les Feluettes)  à cette soirée de folie furieuse trempée dans le burlesque kitsch inspiré du cinéma comique hollywoodien. Mais, voilà ce à quoi Bouchard, le maître de l’écriture théâtrale, se dédie depuis un certain temps.

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NOISES OFF at the Ottawa Little Theatre – not quite on.

Reviewed by on    Summer Theatre 2013  


Photo. Maria Vartanova

Michael Frayn’s three-act backstage farce about farce has been called the funniest comedy ever written. For first-time viewers who love the genre, maybe so, but Noises Off is also notoriously difficult to stage effectively.

Lampooning a bad play-within-a-play, Noises off features a group of weak actors at war with each other, touring a traditional sex farce called Nothing On. All the usual attributes, primarily the shedding of clothes and the constant rushing in and out of many doors are highlighted. The fact that Frayn calls for a two-level set that must be viewed from the audience and backstage perspectives at various times during the three-acts complicates matters further. Added to this, the real drama takes place behind the scenes as the Noises Off reveal love triangles and sexual liaisons gone awry and the actors seek revenge by sabotaging fellow cast members.

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Ottawa Fringe 2013. Passages

Reviewed by on    Musical Theatre, Ottawa Fringe 2013, Summer Theatre 2013  

Passages  is a dance featuring the plight of the Scots in the 18th century. It is based on historical facts and encompasses events of everyday, happy life in the highlands in Scotland, war between the British army and supporters of the Jacobites in Scotland, atrocities caused by the overpowering British Army, and finally a trip to Canada. Brief instances of storytelling are included in the performance, but it is the dance that carries the audience through the history of the first inhabitants of the harbors of Cape Breton, Pictou and others.

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Ottawa Fringe 2013. La Voix Humaine by Jean Cocteau, music by Francis Poulenc

Reviewed by on    Opera, Ottawa Fringe 2013, Summer Theatre 2013  

La voix humaine (Human Voice), a one-act opera for one character, with a libretto by Jean Cocteau set to music by Francis Poulenc is misleadingly simple story. A woman abandoned by her lover cannot imagine living on without him, so she talks to him over the telephone (in this case cellphone) an hour before committing suicide. 

Seems like a simple narrative, but is it indeed so? In this work, Cocteau explores human feelings and needs versus realities of love, relationships and communication. The only tools to convey ideas are voice and facial expressions.  It takes an excellent singer and a gifted actress to revive the desperation and agony of a woman in the last hour of her life. Luckily for the audience, it is Rachel Krehm who is trusted with this extremely demanding role. 

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Ottawa Fringe 2013. Sappho in 9 Fragments.

Reviewed by on    Ottawa Fringe 2013, Summer Theatre 2013  

The Greek poet Sappho, all but erased from history save for fragments of her poetry here and there, has been used as a personification of anything and everything, from the “fallen woman,” to a feminist icon, to champion of lesbian love. Due to her very mystery, people throughout history have put their own frustrations and hopes in her. That is, until now. Sappho… in 9 Fragments, written by Jane Montgomery Griffiths and directed by Jessica Ruano give Sappho her own voice to vent about her appropriation. The set, beautiful in its simplicity, is a cage-like structure with ropes draped across the top and sides. Victoria Grove, who plays Sappho, as well as Atthis, a modern-day chorus girl embarking on her own sapphic romance with an egotistical actress, reminds you why one-person shows can be better than a full-ensemble production. She is what every actress or actor should strive to be. You barely notice as she slides seamlessly, sensually from role to role. Her magnetic stage presence draws you in as she acts with every inch of her body and voice; she has the ability to break your heart with the flick of a finger or the wink of an eye.

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Ottawa Fringe 2013. The Show Must Go On

Reviewed by on    Ottawa Fringe 2013, Summer Theatre 2013  

Written and performed by Jeff Leard, directed by James Leard.

A surprising epic, the initiatic journey of a young actor whose experiences as part of a cross Canada tour with a company performing children’s theatre, transforms him into someone who sees sense in this life, someone who loves to do theatre for children. An intelligent, well-constructed and very theatrical savvy show by a strong young actor who keeps us glued to the trials and tribulations of this character: an actor who performs Rumpelstiltskin across the country. Much originality, much performance virtuosity by a young man who is on the way to becoming a serious actor. One suspects there is a portion of autobiography here but so much the better. A pleasure to watch because it comes from deep down inside and that, I like!

Ottawa Fringe 2013. Sappho in 9 Fragments by Jane Montgomery Griffiths

Reviewed by on    Ottawa Fringe 2013, Summer Theatre 2013  

Sappho in 9 fragments by Jane Montgomery Griffiths, performed by  Victoria Grove

The public has to realize that this is a theatrical adaptation of Sappho’s poetic fragments so don’t expect to hear a reproduction of her writings. If that is clear at the outset, it is much easier to appreciate the show. A poetic transgression produced by multiple voices, gives new meaning to Sappho’s writings in today’s world. This performance within a performance, spoken by the silken and sensual voice(s) of Victoria Grove, incarnates two couples, whose poetic expressions of desire and beauty produce a portrait of the writer, so misunderstood over the centuries. Through these voices who relate their own passionate encounters with a blinding object of desire, we move between Ancient Greece and the modern world, to the point where space, time, voices and the original texts blend and Sappho the legend emerges as an eternal force of enormous power. Some of the language is magnificent. The staging is striking, even hypnotic as the poet/goddess, first appears as a fluttering shadow, murmuring her incantations in Greek, seemingly a return to the platonic vision of reality as it is reflected on the wall of that cave. Plato is immediately transgressed as Sappho removes the curtains and reveals her physical presence to all, thus imposing her own revised image of reality, which is what we then see as the actress twists herself around the lengths of twine, as she moves between those imaginary spaces in time. Greatly enhanced by the set, by the lighting and by the sound design that brings us back to the origins of time, the sensual voice of this superb actress, becomes a presence that goes far beyond the text.

See it in the Arts court Library.

Directed by Jessica Ruano

Set design, Ana Ines Jabares

Lighting, Sarah Crocker

Sound, Luca Romagnoli

Ottawa Fringe 2013. The Hatter

Reviewed by on    Ottawa Fringe 2013, Summer Theatre 2013  

The Hatter
Spired Theatre (Richmond, BC),

File this under “seemed like a good idea at the time.” Writer/performer Andrew Wade has concocted an interesting premise for his solo show: What drove Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter mad? Much less interesting is the answer – suffice to say that it’s straight out of the Psychology 101 chapter on denial – and how Wade gets there. His Hatter is unconvincing as a character, his trials and tribulations no more resonant than a door mouse’s thoughts are deep. Wade plays, briefly, the March Hare and other Wonderland characters but lacks the agility to make the transitions. There’s an improvised song based on an audience suggestion, but it does nothing except chew up time. The Hatter also reads a long poem which he’s supposedly never seen, yet Wade rattles most of it off without ever looking at the paper on which it’s written. On the plus side, the Hatter does offer fresh tea to every audience member.

The festival continues until June 30 at various downtown venues. Tickets / information: Fringe office, 2 Daly Ave., 2nd floor; 613-232-6162;

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