Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Created by Helen Thai
Performed by Franco Pang and Helen Thai
Directed by Kristina Watt

Siblings, growing up in a family that didn’t talk a lot about the past, come to understand that Ma and Ba fled the war in Vietnam and the Cambodian genocide. As difficult as it is for the parents to speak about their experiences, it is even more difficult for the children to navigate the silences, and expectations, that hang over a family that once faced annihilation. Ghosts haunt the present, and even Ma’s reliable Eagle Balm curative can’t banish fearful memories. The language is poetic, effectively reflecting the difficulty of communication between generations with vastly different experiences. One is sympathetic to a husband and wife who sacrificed everything to escape their tormented homeland now raising their children in a country that has turned these same offspring, to some degree, into strangers. While the emotionally even delivery helps us absorb a narrative that covers a lot of historical territory, a little more exposure of the past would be helpful. During a day on the beach the sister suddenly panics while playfully burying her brother in sand as she realizes that this innocent act mimics a too common ritual of war. More such jarring juxtapositions between past and present would help us enter a story that is still keeping its ghosts hidden. I look forward to seeing more of this compelling play.

Holding Mercury

Written and created by Kristina Watt
Creative team: Steve Geyer (music), Nick Carpenter

(creative collaboration), Andrea Connell (creative & production assistant)
Presented by 100 Watt Productions

A delightful beginning to this whimsical piece has the ever-engaging Kristina Watt, wearing scrubs and surgical mask, performing exploratory surgery on a malleable shape that doubles for – what? Well, whatever part of the brain harbours our emotional resilience. What is being cut into is the substance of self, personality, and memory. Lines like “how did that get so large” and “I can fix this,” become increasingly amusing as the fragile form is subjected to pokes and probing. It is when Watt, cradling this examined creature in her arms, steps up to the microphone, that the narrative becomes (even more) elusive. But elusive can be fun in the creative embrace of a seasoned performer, and Watt forges on addressing us with a part-rap, part beat-poet narrative that – under the changing rhythms of Steve Geyer’s live music – exposes the riddle of a love affair. A slightly clearer view of the bottom of this rabbit hole would have been appreciated, but Holding Mercury is an intriguing excursion.’


Created & performed by Madeleine Hall &

Mitchel Rose
Presented by Aplombusrhombus

Small gestures speak volumes in this delightfully imagined and expertly performed show that relies on the practiced talents of Hall and Rose. The narrative is completely contained within two characters creating a soundscape for a drama that just becomes funnier and funnier. In this clever and precisely acted piece, full of aural and physical comedy, Hall and Rose create original sounds, and then react when those sounds – often at odds with what we see – bounce back on them. (Who else recognized immediately the whining staccato of an IBM dot matrix printer?) In Folie, sound is the signifier for originality and surprise, as the story takes us into a film noir world where the final act of violence is inflicted on an innocent vegetable! Oh, and everything, costumes, set, even the celebratory drink at the end, is the startling colour of – nope, no spoilers here. Kudos to Rose and Hall for great work!


a n X i e t y w o m X n

Written & performed by Kelsey Rideout
Presented by E T E R N I T Y

A brief note about this still-in-development piece that was introduced as a workshop performance, with Rideout on book, Eternity explores the tangled world of worry. Peppered with apt observations such as “the string that strangles you is your web”, a n X i e t y w o m X n offers promise and potential.


Choreographed & performed by Geoffrey Dollar

A smooth dancer with a graceful athleticism, Dollar gets you listening as well as watching. A rumination on how we occupy space and measure our distances from objects, and each other, this beautiful performance held the audience captive. Did I just see a performer – on that small stage – launch himself mid-air and land almost without a sound! Dollar’s gestures and well-executed movements linger in space as sweeping lines drawn on a canvas, and his InSight is a thoughtful blend of movement and text with the potential to soar even higher.


Fresh Meat just got fresher!

Reviewed by Laurie Fyffe


Last two shows, Arts Court Studio Theatre, Friday, October 20 and Saturday, OCT 21, doors open at 7 pm, shows start at 7:30 pm.