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

Nunsense A-Men : Toto Too Theatre is as talented as ever.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

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The nonsense of Nunsense has been habit-forming (pun stolen from one of the show’s numbers) since 1985, when it first played off-Broadway. Since then, an estimated 25,000 women around the globe have portrayed the good sisters of Hoboken in the show, which originated as a line of greeting cards, before moving to the stage. Nunsense has also given rise to numerous spin-offs. One of these is Nunsense A-men — the original script, presented by an all-male cast — first performed in 1998.

As delivered by Toto Too Theatre in their most recent production, Nunsense A-Men is as funny as ever. In fact, it is sometimes funnier and certainly even more irreverent than its female counterpart.

The main reason this production is never a drag is that the cast seems to be having such a ball. (Red high-top sneakers go so well with a black and white nun’s habit and a brightly coloured tutu and pink satin ribbons on ballet shoes really enhance a novitiate’s look, don’t you think?) The fun and frolic transmit to the audience immediately.

Even when the occasional number is sung with less than maximum punch, the joy remains front and centre. Spattered with double entendres and puns, the series of cabaret numbers presented by the nuns are a desperate attempt to raise the cash to bury the nuns who died after supping on vichyssoise made by the convent cook, Sister Julia, Child of God. (The last four of the 52 who died are stowed in the convent freezer and the nuns have just been given word that the health inspector is on his way…)

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MY Brilliant Divorce: This infectiously lovable divorcee navigates an unforseen complication in her life with apparent ease.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Reviewed by Kat  Fournier.

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Photo: Lois Seigel

Kate Hurman is brilliant in My Brilliant Divorce, a monologue by Irish writer Geraldine Aron which is now playing at the Gladstone Theatre. The lone character is Angela, an irreverent middle-aged woman suddenly contending with divorce. Playwright Aron’s award winning script was originally performed across Ireland in a successful run which garnered a nomination for an Olivier Award and has subsequently been performed worldwide. Angela, the infectiously lovable divorcee, has appeared on stages from Nairobi to Prague and beyond.

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My Brilliant Divorce: A Shining Achievement

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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One-person shows are drearily frequent on the theatrical scene — and often they smack more of budget-controlling measures than anything else. But Geraldine Aron’s My Brilliant Divorce, now at the Gladstone, is an exception. That’s due, not only to the quality of the text but to Kate Hurman’s terrific performance as a woman picking up the pieces of her shattered life after the breakdown of her marriage.

Hurman makes the character of Angela our irresistible confidant in this play, inviting us to share moments of rage, resentment, sorrow, despair and humiliation, but also ensuring that we also experience the release of laughter when her naturally buoyant sense of humour reasserts itself.

To a point, our response to Angela’s unreeling of her miseries may seem suspect. Should we really be enjoying Hurman this much as she rants about her estranged spouse’s new girlfriend, a sexpot with the voluptuous lips of Angelina Jolie? Or, as she caustically recalls her encounters with a chauvinistic divorce attorney, or as she makes a disastrous middle-aged attempt to re-enter the dating circuit?

There’s a certain element of the spectator sport in our natures when it comes to gluing ourselves to the spectacle of a human train wreck — witness the addiction many of us have to the ongoing Rob Ford saga — and we can be cocooned against its full implications by knowing that it’s not happening to us.

But Geraldine Aron’s textured and affectionate script offers a bouquet of opportunities to an attentive actress. The play, discreetly directed by the reliable John P. Kelly, has a natural flow at the Gladstone. And, thanks to Hurman, who also takes on a variety of other roles, we’ll never make the error of regarding My Brilliant Divorce as no more than an extended stand-up routine.

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My Brilliant Divorce. A one-hander that works brilliantly

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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A one-person show works only if it is rich in content, has a fine dramatic arc, quality production values and, most of all, a first-class performer.

The SevenThirty/Pat Moylan production of My Brilliant Divorce by Geraldine Aron has all of the above.

Early on, it seems that it might be a lightweight comedy shrugging off the sadness of marital failure. But, Aron’s script moves on from the initial dismissal of the errant husband, through the gamut of emotions — anger, depression, loneliness, desperation — and actions ranging from the contemplation of suicide to the emotional suicide of trying to revive the dead marriage. Eventually, acceptance is followed by a new and healthier life after divorce.

Kate Hurman delivers a powerful and beautifully sustained characterization of Angela, the discarded wife who was once half of the world’s happiest couple, as well as throwing in cameos of a number of the people she meets on her journey towards survival with only her dog, Dexter, by her side and voices at the other end of the telephone to break the monotony of her life.

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My Brilliant Divorce : Kate Hurman upstages Geraldine Aron’s Text

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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Photo. Veooz.com

Kate Hurman is one of Ottawa’s theatre treasures who is not on stage as much as she should be. Here, Director John P. Kelly has given her Geraldine Aron’s juicy monologue where she can show us the great variety of her talents. The play is written in the form of a diary,  where a certain Angela Kennedy Lipsky, an Amercian living in the UK,  tells us the whole trajectory of her post-marriage life. It begins at the beginning, with the sudden announcement by her ex-husband that he wants to leave. “Round Head” as she so affectionately calls him, quickly packs his bag and clumps down the stairs of their London flat, making a quick getaway to join his “Rosy” from Argentina, leaving Angela more than stunned. 

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Seeds: A taught docudrama deals effectively with a most complex topic

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.   ,

Liisa Repo-Martell and Eric Peterson, in Seeds. Photo: Guntar Kravis

Liisa Repo-Martell and Eric Peterson, in Seeds.
Photo: Guntar Kravis

In the world of documentary theatre Seeds may reign supreme as one of the most complex topics ever incubated for the stage. The story is one well suited for the headlines-as-dialogue, taunt teaching moments, and characters-as-points of view form of theatrical presentation docudrama uses to construct its world. The little guy – and they don’t get much smaller than the individual farmer – is suddenly and it would appear unjustly targeted by a multi-national corporation because their genetically modified seeds have capriciously settled on his land producing a crop resistant to the weed blasting properties of Round Up herbicide. That’s the simple plot.

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