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

Bent : excellent performances in this ground-breaking play

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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. (Continue reading » )

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

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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.

(Continue reading » )

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

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

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. (Continue reading » )

Rita is still being educated!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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. (Continue reading » )

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

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


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.

(Continue reading » )

OLT does itself proud with Norm Foster’s Old Love

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

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. (Continue reading » )

Ragtime: An effective production!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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. (Continue reading » )

Old Love: Just the right mix of heart and humour

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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. (Continue reading » )

Sister Act: Suzart Productions Puts on an Entertaining Show

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,


Photo: Suzart Producttions

Book by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Suzart Productions
Directed by Ellen Seguin

From gangster’s moll to cop’s heartthrob, Deloris leaves seedy discos and bars for the peace behind convent walls — almost.

Based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, Sister Act is set in 1970s Philadelphia, where nightclub singer hopeful Deloris Van Cartier sees her gangster boyfriend commit murder, so putting her own life in danger. Her police officer admirer arranges for her to spend time in protective custody in a cash-strapped convent — a location as uncomfortable for her as it is for the Mother Superior who must keep her under wraps. But, as the sisters soon discover, the Lord works in mysterious ways, especially when Deloris turns the catastrophic chorus of nuns into a powerhouse choir worthy of performing for the Pope. (Continue reading » )

TotoToo’s Priscilla a transport of delight

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (The Musical)
Book by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott
Musical arrangements and orchestrations by Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy
Developed for the stage by Simon Phillips
Based on the movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
TotoToo Theatre
Directed by Michael Gareau

In a way, Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert revels in its own ramshackle, cheeky improbability. That’s what made it so endearing back in 1994 when it lumbered onto cinema screens as a delightful road movie. (Continue reading » )

More posts