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 Sound of Music: Maria Connects but tempered voices are tedious

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If you’re a nun suffering from insomnia, just book a berth in the cavernous abbey depicted in this production of The Sound of Music. The place is so immensely boring, so circumscribed by tempered voices and looming, dark spaces, that you’ll be snoozing in seconds.

In fact, one suspects that the real reason Maria abandons a career in a wimple for life with the von Trapps is to avoid death by tedium.

You already know the storyline of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s famous musical — Maria Rainer, a postulant at an Austrian abbey in the dark days of the advancing Third Reich, takes a temporary job as a governess with the von Trapp family, falls in love with the adorable but emotionally undernourished children and their rule-loving widower father Captain Georg von Trapp, teaches them all to sing again, marries the captain, and flees the Nazis with her new family.

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GCTC’S Timely Production of Michael Healey’s Politically Potent Generous Wholly Successful

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Photo: Andrew Alexander

Photo: Andrew Alexander

The war room is abuzz. The government may have just lost their majority and heads are going to roll. A power-hungry Prime Minister is surrounded by a bumbling group of cabinet ministers in the PMO, each obviously too stupid, too self-involved, or too guileless to be real, though the verisimilitude didn’t always escape me. Amidst the senseless commotion, a women has lurched her way into the middle of the room, her hands clutching her bleeding abdomen.

This, the first scene of Michael Healey’s Generous, playing at the GCTC and directed by Eric Coates, is the perfectly grotesque entry-point to a darkly comedic play. The government, corporate oil, media, and the Supreme Court are the objects of Healey’s play, but the subject is the virtue of generosity in the public service; and it’s not cleanly palatable when it’s found. From murder, to the spotless opinion of a naïve reporter, or the unsolicited attention that we’d rather not have, generosity takes many forms. Healey portrays a complicated kind of generosity as it plays out in the most powerful influencers in Canadian society.

Healey’s script is twisted, and dark, and its structure is deliberately disjointed. The three scenes that span the two acts of this play present three distinct storylines and flank a fifteen year gap, leaving the audience off balance. This theatrical device helps to pull the audience away from their expectation of a typical narrative structure. Though the scenes seem to mimic reality, they aren’t grounded in naturalism. Michael Healey’s script is intensely wordy, for example. The characters sink into extensive, heady, monologues that feel meta-theatrical and self-aware. (Continue reading » )

San goes beyond the boundaries with blend of theatre, music and film

Reviewed by on    Performance Art, Uncategorized  

Photo: John Kenney / Montreal Gazette

Photo: John Kenney / Montreal Gazette

The city may be an indifferent, sometimes cruel place. But it can still harbour grace and love even if you’re an almost-obsolete robot infatuated with an office worker who’s as much a misfit as you. That’s the ultimately hopeful upshot of Nufonia Must Fall Live!, the gentle puppet-show-with-a-difference by Eric San, a.k.a. Montreal-based scratch DJ and music producer Kid Koala, that’s been making a splash at home and abroad since it debuted last year.

Based on his own 2003 graphic novel and soundtrack Nufonia Must Fall, San’s multidisciplinary show employs real-time filming of more than a dozen miniature stages and a cast of white puppets, with the video projected on a screen at the rear of the stage.

The audience can make out the puppeteers and camera people as they go about their business on stage. Koala and the Afiara Quartet provide live — and alternately sad, lush and disquieting — music on piano, strings and turntables at stage rear. (Continue reading » )

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During the 2008 federal election, Rob Salerno, a Toronto-based gay political columnist for the newspaper Xtra, decided to ask the leader of each party about his or her position on gay rights. Stephen Harper was the only one to decline. Salerno’s determination to interview Harper resulted in an assault charge (you’ll need to see the show for the story

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