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

Office Hours: McCabe’s cast and crew keep the tone light and entertaining!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Office Hours
Poster. Courtesy of Phoenix Players

Office Hours By Norm Foster. Directed by Jo-Ann McCabe. Phoenix Players

It’s Friday afternoon at the office, or, more accurately, at six offices, and a regular day of preparing for the weekend away from the city.

The busy week included firing a couple of employees, having a sycophantic encounter with an alcoholic film director out of original ideas, dealing with a couple of potential suicides, a pushy salesman, a self-centred psychiatrist, a domineering mother who believes herself responsible for her son’s sexual orientation, an overweight jockey, a steamy novelist and a dead racehorse. (Continue reading » )

Awoken: excellent performance but the material falters…

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Nicholas Dave Amott in Awoken. Photo: Lorraine Payette

Nicholas Dave Amott in Awoken
Photo: Lorraine Payette

Awoken created and performed by Nicholas Dave Amott

A monologue  which becomes a sleepless delirium, bringing together  sounds of familiar voices, a nightmarish confusion between illusion and  reality, and a clear sense of a character performing himself in front of an audience, opened last night at the Gladstone Theatre for a 5 day run.

This very talented young man with a beautiful voice, enormous stage presence and an excellent sense of theatre, plays out his delusional world of the insomniac as it shifts back and forth from his contacts with the doctor, his conversations with his mother, his need to express himself through music, and his flights of confused fantasy into the world of popular culture where batman, ironman and many more appear and disappear. He is suffering from an incurable form of sleeplessness and there is nothing anyone can do for him. He uses points of light created by lamps not only to transform his face into multiple theatrical masks but also to bring the audience into his semi-hypnotical state of dizziness and exhaustion as he winds down to the inevitable ending. (Continue reading » )

Outside Mullingar: Irish family drama with rich operatic undertones!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Born and brought up in New York, John Patrick Shanley , author of the screenplay for Moonstruck,   directed by Norman Jewison , captured a   modern Italian American love story that was told in the style of a Puccini opera. Now he has written  a play about  Irish families   deeply rooted in their  ancestral land,This one too has great  operatic undertones !  Structured as a series of solos, duos, trios and quartets, the  characters have to maintain  the music of the  accents  from Dublin to Mullingar in the northern most areas of the Republic , which is  what the  cast of Dave Dawson’s   production at the Gladstone did very well.  We were immediately immersed in a  swelling  of romantic  authenticity and thoughtful intensity   that keeps us captivated for the whole evening.    (Continue reading » )

Phoenix Theatre runs rampant in the high school “staff room”.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.   ,

This Phoenix Theatre production called Staff Room (by Joan Burrows) is a mild crowd pleaser, definitely aimed at a niche audience. A cast of ten actors playing 55 roles carried out a non-stop whirlwind evening of skits , monologues, dialogues or exchanges with multiple actors of varying descriptions.  Each skit was an individual performance but all were linked by the fact that they all took place in the staff room of a high school where the teachers, administrators, cleaners and related employees were all involved in the business of this institution of learning. Joel Rahn responsible for media relations, stepped out on the stage before the curtain went up and asked us point blank: “How many people were/are school teachers“? A lot of hands went up. I gather that If he asked the question it was important, and we soon realized why.

(Continue reading » )

I’m Not Jewish But My Mother Is!: Trite, repetitive and clichéd production

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

 

Photo: Steve Martin

Photo: Steve Martin

Something to remember: writing, producing, directing and acting in a play mounted in your own theatre is probably not a good idea. Case in point: I’m Not Jewish But My Mother Is! written, produced and so on by Steve Martin on his own stage. Trite, repetitive and clichéd with a predictably gooey centre, the comedy is a prime example of how being overly involved in something blinds you to its faults.

Not that Martin hasn’t shown talent in many things theatrical. As owner of The Gladstone, he’s produced some excellent shows. As a director, he did a bang-up job in 2009 with David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin, Jr.’s howlingly funny The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol. As an actor, he was first-rate, several years ago, in Stephen Mallatratt’s The Woman in Black at Ottawa Little Theatre, and has since held his own in Glengarry Glen Ross, Noises Off and other shows at The Gladstone. 

But in those cases, he was wearing just one or two hats. With I’m Not Jewish …, he’s wearing them all so there’s no place for anyone with a dissenting view of Martin’s writing or staging decisions, no room for someone to suggest richer character development, no one to notice that maybe all that dancing (and Martin, a professional ballroom dancer, is undeniably fleet of foot) is overkill.

The play’s storyline is simple enough: successful bachelor lawyer Christopher Bloomfeld (Martin) has a stereotypical Jewish mother Rose Bloomfeld (Barbara Seabright-Moore) whose mouth pops into gear before her brain is fully engaged; lawyer also has a curvaceous girlfriend Felix (Bekah Fay) who arrives at his apartment while mouthy mother is visiting unannounced; sparks fly – though maybe not in the way you’d expect; heart-to-heart resolves all. (Continue reading » )