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

Shatter: This view of Halifax explosion is a dramatic disaster.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Shatter By Trina Davies, diected by Barbara Kobolak. a Kanata Theatre production.

The Halifax Explosion on December 6, 1917, was among the greatest maritime disasters in Canadian history.

The facts were that a French vessel, the SS Mont-Blanc, was carrying a cargo of explosives (improperly protected) when it collided with a Norwegian vessel, the SS Imo in the strait on the way to Halifax Harbour. The Mont-Blanc cargo caught fire and the resulting explosion wreaked havoc around it, killing some 2,000 people and destroying whole communities. (Continue reading » )

Kanata’s The Lion in Winter: A Waste of Time?

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

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Photo: Wendy Wagner.

It’s astonishing that James Goldman’s The Lion In Winter continues to be revived. It may have seemed trendy and innovative half a century ago, but this fanciful attempt to use the turbulent 12th Century household of England’s Henry ll as some kind of metaphor for a 20th Century dysfunctional American family now seems trite and unfulfilling.

Director Jim Holmes has delivered many outstanding productions for Kanata Theatre over the years, but his affection for this play seems misplaced. His production does move smoothly, supplying some balance between character and situation and seeking a solid dramatic heft for the material’s climactic moments. But there’s only so much that even a good director can do with a script that suffers from an apparent mood disorder and revels in its own anachronisms — be they the resolutely modern colloquialisms or the presence of a Christmas tree in Henry’s French castle.

Goldman, younger brother of novelist and screenwriter William Goldman, no doubt took delight in all the snappy one-liners which he concocted — for example, the king’s estranged wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine mischievously observing that she and Henry shattered all the commandments during their first erotic encounter — but much of it seems pretty sophomoric now. The Monty Python crowd and the creators of BlackAdder also sought to glean laughs from bringing a 20th Century sensibility to historical events — but their subversive humour cut deeper and their social and political parallels were more successfully realized.

(Continue reading » )