Theatre in Ottawa and the region

I’ll Be Back Before Midnight : this set-up of the “thriller” genre succeeds

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Poster: I’ll Be Back Before Midnight

I’ll Be Back Before Midnight By Peter Colley. Classic Theatre Festival, directed by Laurel Smith

The big question surrounding I’ll Be Back Before Midnight is whether the audience is screaming with laughter or in terror as the packed story of this comedy/thriller unfolds.

Either way, playwright Peter Colley has been laughing all the way to the bank since Midnight premiered at the Blyth Festival in 1979. The play has been dubbed the most produced (and profitable) Canadian thriller in history. (more…)

Beneath: perfectly plausible horror! An excellent new work by Doug Phillips

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Beneath. Charlie Ebbs

This world premiere of a one act play by Doug Phillips  is a work of  futuristic hyper-naturalism that grabs us by the jugular because it seems perfectly logical and almost too plausible.

The remnants of a poor family sit around the table discussing family matters that almost seem banal.  In the first few minutes,  Phillips sets out  his clues.  The family is steeped in  misery, water is lacking and there are  fires in the area which has become a sort of agricultural waste – land managed by sharecroppers. Something  weird is happening in the barn behind the house,  as the scraping sounds ignite our curiosity. Then,  there is some terrible secret  hanging over them all.  We meet the family members at that point and it  doesn’t take us  long to see that sister Ellen is suffering the loss of a loved one,  that young Kelsie is waiting for her new date, that Charlie her father is also Ellen’s brother and he  is  the tortured head of this  “natural” family. The atmosphere suggests   Eugene O’Neil’s  grungy realism especially since the characters could possibly be  the actors themselves and we  wonder where this is going. (more…)

Only Drunks and Children tell the truth: a tough-minded play fuelled by the author’s background in stand-up comedy!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Only Drunks. Taran Kootenhayoo, Joelle Peters. Photo by Stephen Wild Photo: Stephen Wild. Taran Kootenhayoo and Joelle Peters.

Drew Hayden Taylor is a prolific playwright, also well known for his stand-up comic routines which bring out his corrosive and provocative humor as well as ideas that stimulate much thought. Published in 1998 and winner of the 1996 Dora Mavor Moore Small Theatre award for Outstanding New Play, Only Drunks and Children tell the truth was first produced in Toronto (1996) by Native Earth Performing Arts. This new production in Gananoque gives us a chance to see the work of an author who has not yet had enough exposure on the mainstream theatre circuit in spite of his many plays that have already been published. .

Taylor raises delicate questions about stereotypes and racism and mistaken attitudes in the non-native community of Canada with regards to native people . Here, he takes a close look at Grace, a young woman of Ojibway origin, from Otter lake, who was removed from her family by the Children’s Aid Society when she was a child because the Society assumed the father had abandoned the family which was not true. She became “Janice” in Toronto where she grew up in a non-native family . As time passed, the cultural memories of her former life, slipped quietly away. The white set by designer Jung-Hye Kim shows us a symbolic place where all culture has been eradicated, as the invisible paintings and other objects that decorate the room only exist in the memory and the imagination of the owner or of those who are still in touch with her past.

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More dragons, please! La Machine in Ottawa

Reviewed by Laurie Fyffe

Guest reviewer Laurie Fyffe

Photo: Laurie Fyffe.

La Machine with its dueling dragon and gigantic spider has come and gone, leaving in its wake a flurry of excitement over what one can do with public space. Ottawa audiences came out in droves to witness two fantastical creates enact their fictional quest on Ottawa streets before discovering each other in a grand finale on Lebreton Flats. Given extraordinary license to tie up traffic, two mechanical beings transformed this city’s boulevards and multilane, downtown thoroughfares into scenic displays of awe and wonder. Kids were hoisted aloft to gaze at monsters that roared, spewed smoke and arrived in an array of wondrous musical accompaniment.

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Molière dans le parc » : Le Fâcheux théâtre impose son style et amuse le public de tous âges. !

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

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Sasha Dominique (le Docteur), Sylvain Sabatié (le Barbouillé).    Photos:  © Martin Cadieux

Sylvain Sabatié et toute son équipe de professionnels bien connus dans la région nous plongent dans un des moments les plus marquants de l’histoire théâtrale française : la rencontre entre Molière et les comédiens italiens  avant même que Scaramouche et la commedia dell’ arte trouvent  leur place à la cour de France. Les Italiens avaient  déjà  laissé des traces importantes sur le jeu de Molière en Europe,  lorsqu’ils jouaient sur la place publique. Ce modèle du jeu  grotesque et vulgaire, l’essence même du théâtre populaire, du théâtre de la foire et tout ce qu’il y avait de plus divertissant et  attirant des spectacles de la rue (more…)

Classic Theatre Festival delivers a worthy Candida

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Candida. Photo Jean-Denis LaBelle

Candida By George Bernard Shaw, A Perth Classic Theatre Festival production directed by Laurel Smith

PERTH, Ontario — One of the pleasures of an Ottawa Valley summer is Perth’s Classic Theatre Festival, which has an impressive track record for mounting quality fare.

Its current production of Candida, Bernard Shaw’s 1894 play about turmoil within the household of an Anglican vicar, is no exception.

On the surface, this may seem no more than a comedy about the unsettling impact of a romantic young poet named Eugene Marchbanks when he enters the lives of James Morell, a cleric whose Socialist convictions and gift for rhetoric have won him public prominence, and Morell’s beguiling wife, Candida. But Laurel Smith’s discerning production finds deeper currents in the central situation — which involves the youthful Eugene’s infatuation with Candida, an infatuation so intense and so openly critical of Morell that it leaves the latter increasingly insecure about her love.

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Motown, the Musical allows these hits to shine once more!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Motown, the Musical. Performing the Jackson 5. Photo: Joan Marcus

Motown, the Musical. Book by Berry Gordy; music and lyrics from the legendary Motown catalog . Broadway Across Canada in association with Work Light Productions. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright/ Plays Southam Hall, National Arts Centre

The musical legacy of the remarkable growth of Motown speaks for itself through this jukebox musical — which is just as well because the book by Motown founder Berry Gordy is nothing to write home about. (more…)

This Amorous Servant seduces her audience.

Reviewed by Patrick Langston

 

A word of advice: If your plans ever conflict with those of Corallina, you may as well just give way because she’ll best you every time.

Corallina — a firecracker with an intense sense of honour, an estimable loyalty to those who merit it and an ingrained understanding that women’s second-class citizenry needs to be rooted out like a nasty bit of poison ivy — is the glue who holds together Carlo Goldoni’s rarely produced 1752 commedia dell’arte creation The Amorous Servant. (more…)

The Amorous Servant: A new contemporary vision of masked theatre comes to light!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

The Amorous Servant. Photo: Barb Gray

The Amorous  Servant by Carlo Goldoni , directed by Attila Clemann, translated by John Van Burek. A production of the Odyssey Theatre.

The Odyssey Theatre is back in the park again this summer, braving the rain and the bad weather . Luckily it was beautiful the night we saw it, the mosquitoes were gone, the new cushions were comfortable and all was perfect.

A simple but functional  set designed by John D oucet set the space for the  dashing about the house that keeps the eight actors moving  in this 18th Century comedy by  Carlo Goldoni , rarely performed, created in French in 1993 at the Comédie française and only recently translated into English by John Van Burek, better known in Canada for his translations of Quebec playwright Michel Tremblay! (more…)

Candida: breezy and fast-moving at the Perth Classic Theatre Festival..

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Candida, at the Perth Classic theatre. : Photo Jean-Denis Labelle.

By George Bernard Shaw, Classic Theatre Festival.Directed by Laurel Smith

George Bernard Shaw considered his 1895 domestic comedy Candida one of his Plays Pleasant. In part an ironic antidote to A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 drama about a woman’s fate in a male-dominated society, Candida also offers an indirect reference to Shaw’s own background. (His mother left his father for her musician friend.) (more…)

Past Reviews