community theatre

Bent: Heartfelt , Passionate Theatre.

Reviewed by James Murchison

Martin Sherman’s Bent is a story that examines the persecution gay people in Nazi Germany.  It is also a story of the importance of love and how it can continue to endure in the most horrific and challenging of circumstances. It is an acclaimed piece since it’s premiere in London in 1979 and has continued to be recognized for its powerful sensitive understanding of the evil of fascism and the strength of the human spirit in subsequent incarnations. It is a brave choice for any theatre to tackle and explains why ToTo Too is recognized as one of the finest community theatre companies in Ottawa. Bent is not an easy play to watch much of the time, but it is an important play that will always be relevant to people, unfortunately made more timely because of the resurgence of hate groups attacking Muslims, Jews, the LGBTQ community and anybody  that is perceived as different. (more…)

Bent : excellent performances in this ground-breaking play

Reviewed by Iris Winston


Bent photo Maria Vartanova

 

Bent by  Martin Sherman, directed by  Josh Kemp. a TotoToo Theatre Production

Arbeit macht frei (Work sets you free.)

The horrible irony of the slogan above the gates of  Dachau  and other concentration camps in Nazi Germany where millions died deepens with the demonstration of the futility of the type of forced labour imposed on the two prisoners at the centre of Martin Sherman’s 1979 award-winning drama Bent.

For 12 hours each day, they must move rocks from one pile to another and then move them back again, all the time under threat of death from an armed guard.  It is clear that the most likely escape from the mind-numbing and pointless repetition is death. But, along the way, Sherman aims to show that the human spirit and love survive in the face of cruelty and subjugation. (more…)

Mothers & Daughters: a light-hearted musical that relies on stereotypes!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Mothers and Daughters
Photo Maria Vartanova

 

Mothers and Daughters: A Musical,  Book by S. Oscar Martin, Music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric McIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin

SOME Theatre Company, Salt Dining & Lounge

Directed by Maureen Welch

The locker-room humour featured in Mothers and Daughters elicited a fair amount of laughter from the few men in the audience at the performance I attended. There seemed to be little shared hilarity from the female majority. Perhaps this is because they could not identify as easily with the onslaught of crude remarks and gestures, sexual innuendo and detailed references to body parts. In my experience, women rarely (if ever) talk this way, so forced humour of this type falls to the ground with a heavy thud.

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Mothers & Daughters; World premiere shows much talent but the mother/daughter relationship not sufficiently explored.

Reviewed by James Murchison

Mothers & Daughters
Photo Maria Vartanova

 

We are full throttle into the Ottawa Theatre season with Performances at Ottawa Little Theatre, Kanata Theatre, Central Square and of course the N.A.C. with the GCTC season just around the corner. I chose to attend Mothers & Daughters Friday evening. It is the world premiere of a new musical penned by S. Oscar Martin with music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric MacIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin. (more…)

Rita is still being educated!

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Educating Rita, Photos Maria Vartanova

 

Educating Rita by Willy Russell, Ottawa Little Theatre, Directed by Sterling Lynch

Educating Rita always brings back memories. Not only do visions of Julie Walters and Michael Caine in the 1983 movie version or outstanding performances in previous stage productions of Willy Russell’s 1980 Pygmalion-like tale come to mind, but I flash back to thoughts of Janet — a classmate of mine, briefly, in the UK in the 1950s.

Like Rita, Janet was exceptionally intelligent and from a working-class background. After passing her 11+ examination, (taken at the age of 10 – don’t ask) she was accepted in a prestigious out-of-zone grammar school. Before the end of her first semester, she withdrew and entered a mediocre school close to home, where, she said, she had friends and felt she fitted in with her own kind. (more…)

A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester: The Show Must Go On.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester
Photo. Kanata Theatre

 

A Year in the life of  Eddie Jester by T. Gregory Argall,  Kanata Theatre, Directed by Stavros Sakiadis

A Year in the Life of Eddie Jester  underlines the dictum that the show must go on, however extreme the situation. And in the case of stand-up comedian Eddie Jester, lying comatose and near death in a Toronto hospital room, the situation is about as extreme as it can be. Yet, he keeps his act alive as his wife and girlfriend (both pregnant), his incompetent agent and randy doctor and nurses check on his deteriorating condition. (more…)

Ottawa Little Theatre: Pardon Me, Prime Minister. Good performances out of weak material.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

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Pardon Me, Prime Minister, directed by Josh Kemp. Photo: Maria Vartanova

Should you think about going to see Pardon Me, Prime Minister, currently playing at Ottawa Little Theatre, be warned.

This weak and dated farce by Edward Taylor and John Graham, first performed in 1979, is not connected to the fine television comedy series Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister — except by trying to force a link through its title.

The plot — if that is not too strong a word for the creaking storyline — is transparent and the climax (again too strong a word for something that is more fizzle than sizzle) is discernible well before the end of the first scene.

In the tradition of British farce, cast members rush through assorted doors and females strip to their underwear, on at least one occasion for absolutely no reason. Sadly, the OLT production features some of the ugliest and most unflattering undies that do nothing to enhance the appearance of the three young women who must wear them. And, while considering the costuming, it might also have been a good idea to spring for three similar dresses in three different sizes, instead of making do with one, for the three actresses of different body types, who must wear them. Along the way, this would also set up an amusing replication of outfits for the curtain call.

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OLT does itself proud with Norm Foster’s Old Love

Reviewed by Jamie Portman

Photo courtesy of Ottawa Little Theatre

Of course there’s comedy in Norm Foster’s 2008 play, Old Love, What else should we expect? After all it is a Norm Foster play. But there’s also wisdom and gentleness here — qualities that are abundantly present in Venetia Lawless’s thoughtful and beautifully modulated production for Ottawa Little Theatre.

It’a not quite right to suggest that Old Love is about a 30-year infatuation or even an obsession. Such words cheapen the emotions that the aging Bud has long nursed for Molly, the inaccessible — but, for him, mysteriously enchanting — wife of his boss. (more…)

Ragtime: An effective production!

Reviewed by James Murchison

I went to see Ragtime at the Centrepointe theatre. The darkness of
evening had not yet fallen and it was gloriously free from the
incessant rain that we have all become so accustomed to. It was a
glorious greaat evening to go to the theatre.
The story of Ragtime is as familiar as time. There are the wealthy
people of New Rochelle who never need worry about anything and
are blissfully unaware of the strife that besets most of the nation.
There are the new Eastern European immigrants struggling to start
a life in America fully believing the myth that everyone has an
equal path to prosperity and happiness. Then there is spirit of the
freewheeling ease of the black clubs of Harlem. (more…)

Old Love: Just the right mix of heart and humour

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Photo courtesy of Ottawa Little Theatre

Old Love
By Norm Foster
Ottawa Little Theatre
Directed by Venetia Lawless

For two friends in their 60s who just celebrated their third wedding anniversary and say that love in later life is especially rewarding, Old Love is a play to identify with and enjoy.

Probably one of the most charming of Canadian playwright Norm Foster’s 55 scripts, Old Love, while containing many of his signature one-liners, is more romance than comedy. First performed in 2008, Old Love traces an undeclared love that has lasted for 30 years, unspoken until he — now divorced — invites his former boss’s widow to dinner at the funeral reception. (more…)

Past Reviews