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

Not by Bread Alone: The Nagala’at Acting Ensemble Company, World’s only Professional Deaf-Blind Theatre Company at ArtsEmerson

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   , ,


Photo: Avshalow Ahraron.

Not by Bread Alone may be the most unusual theatre experience I have ever undergone. It is a devised piece created by the professional director Adina Tal and the blind and deaf members of the Israeli Nalaga’at Acting Ensemble Company, none of whom had ever appeared onstage before undertaking Light Is Heard in Zig Zag, first performed in 2004 after two years of rehearsal. The Nalaga’ at, whose name means Do Touch, is the world’s only professional deaf-blind acting troupe.

Light Is Heard in Zig Zag, attempted to bring the spectators into the performers’ world, i.e., a world of only three senses. The company’s talent and the work’s uniqueness made it a success that prompted the group to develop their second production, Not by Bread Alone. The eleven performers and their director built on the techniques they had acquired during their first undertaking.

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Ups and Downs “In the Heights” at the Boston Centre for the Arts

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Diego Klock-Perez and Cast 2

Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo  “In the Heights”

In the Heights, the 2010 Tony award winner, is a feel-good, much loved musical about the trials, tribulations, and joys of a group of Latinos living in a barrio in New York City’s Washington Heights. The show’s optimism would seem, at least in part, the product of composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s youth when he first conceived it as a student at Wesleyan College in 1999. He wanted to develop a musical about the Hispanic community where he had grown up, drawing on Latin and contemporary musical influences. Unlike the earlier Latino-themed musicals West Side Story and The Capeman, In the Heights is devoid of gang violence. Violence has been replaced by solidarity. While Miranda’s decision to break with clichés is laudable, the result, in this case, is a lack of dramatic conflict and sentimentally drawn characters.

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Sugar:Author Robbie McCalauley Traces her Own Life

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   , , ,

For a number of years, actress, director, performance artist, teacher, and writer Robbie McCauley has been creating socio-political works, which draw on her family history, as in Indian Blood and the OBIE winner Sally’s Rape.  In Sugar McCauley traces her own life, beginning in childhood in a still segregated Georgia.  Life revolved around family, community, cooking, eating, and the garden which supplied the family with healthful food.  A happy and seemingly fit child, her cuts and bruises healed slowly. She was told that she must “have a little sugar,” code for diabetes.

McCauley tells us: “Sugar is complicated” – and it is in this play.  It connects to love, pleasure, illness, pain, suffering, overcoming, and slavery.  She wrote Sugar to rid herself of the shame she felt about the stigma of diabetes and to bring attention to the growing problem of the disease in the African American community.

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Mabou Mines’ DollHouse: at the Cutler Majestic in Boston, MA

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Janet Girardeau & Maude Mitchell R. Janet Girardeau, Maude Mitchell

After nine years on the road, Mabou Mines’ DollHouse, conceived and directed by Lee Breuer, arrived in Boston on November 1. The week’s run at the Cutler Majestic brought this marathon tour to an end. As a fan both of Ibsen and cutting edge theatre, I had been looking forward to the event with great anticipation.

For the most part this “concept” version of the play lived up to my expectations. Unlike other stylized Doll Houses, which look for relevance by contemporizing the play – such as German director Thomas Ostermeier’s 2002 production in which the Helmers live in a chic modernist apartment and Dr. Rank suffers from AIDS – the world of Breuer’s Nora is fixed in the late nineteenth century. From her blonde bouffant hairstyle to her blue bustled dress, Nora looks the picture of her time as she munches her macaroons, confides in Kristine Linde, and flirts with Dr. Rank.

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The Infernal Comedy or Confessions of a Serial Killer by ArtsEmerson at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, Boston, MA

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John Malkovich, an orchestra, and two lovely sopranos (Sophie Klubmann and Claire Meghnagi) whisked into town, gave two presentations of The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer and left. This strange performance piece – part one-man show, part Baroque concert – has been touring intermittently since 2008, playing one- or two-night stands, mostly in Europe. The ArtsEmerson engagement was Infernal Comedy’s U.S. premiere of the fully staged version.

As the show begins the orchestra is onstage, the conductor Martin Haselböck enters and an overture is played. John Malkovich walks on dressed in a white suit, black polka-dotted shirt, and white shoes. He wears sun glasses and carries a clipboard. At Boston’s Majestic Theatre, the audience responded to his celebrity and charisma with great applause. He was, after all, the reason that most were there.

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