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

Up to Low: A Magical Oratorio of Popular History !

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


Photo. Sarah Hoy

The Arts Court Studio was miraculously transformed by designer Brian Smith, into a semi-country space , part barn, part lakeside cottage country, part bar in a pub somewhere up in the bush of Gatineau, Pontiac County and beyond. The story is narrated by young Tommy (Lewis Wynne-Jones) who takes us from Ottawa, back to his past and all the memories of his parents, and the Irish immigrant community that existed in the early 1950s. We go on a long ride up to Low Quebec in Uncle Frank’s beautiful new Buick that moves about 6 miles an hour, depending on the state of the road.The event is recreated by Attila Clemann the slightly strange uncle with the slick hat and cigarette falling from his lips and the expressive body language. He has whipped the group into physical shape so they can perform the trip that passes along the Gatineau River up to Wakefield and into Low Quebec. Janet Irwin has transformed Doyle’s story telling into an oratorio of voices that take turns telling the stories of Mean Hughie, Crazy Will, Aunt Dottie, Baby Bridget and a whole community of extraordinary individuals who inhabited Tommy’s world and left so many precious memories. They also defined the country, and left traces of their dreams and visions in the area, traces that Doyle has picked up and given an eternal life in his book. The result is a form of popular history that tells the tales of the region, just as Donnie Laflamme has captured the French community in Mechanicsville and Hintonburg with his skits involving the outstanding characters that he puts on stage in his own Hintonburg Tales.

(Continue reading » )