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

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 » )

A Christmas Carol at the Gladstone: Mr. Charles Dickens pays his respects and performs his story! A real treat for the audience

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Dickens14724594_1685276825120678_6821339433919411578_nPhoto: courtesy of the Acting Company.

John D. Huston, an actor we have seen many times before in Ottawa and who is in the habit of performing solo, is back in the city with a most beautiful evening of theatre within theatre.  He literally  becomes Charles Dickens, whisks us back to the 19th Century and plays Dickens the actor as he would have performed his own novella. It is a great pleasure to behold this writer who transforms himself into the various voices from his  text. because who more than he, would be so acquainted with these characters?  He  not only imitates them,  he transforms his face and body into those who are talking, he even creates a vocal sound scape: the ringing of the bells, the rattling of Marley’s chains, the howling of the wind, the noises that set the stage for the arrival of those ghostly creatures who scare poor Scrooge to death.

As a fellow who is trained in the melodramatic acting techniques of his day, Dickens makes everything seem larger than life, more intense than realistic thus emphasizing the  underlying gothic horror of the text, even bringing us closer to something that Edgar Allan Poe might have written since they were contemporaries.

This text represents the version that was cut down from the original three hour performance text, but augmented from the hour version we saw several years ago at the Manotick Fringe festival.

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Empire of the Son: An important father-son portrait curiously dilluted by this production

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,


Photo. courtesy of the NAC, English Theatre.

The Empire of the Son is a one man show that raises important questions which much contemporary theatre is asking. Questions of memory and migration, of individuals trying to define their identity by discussing their origins, or their parents origins, or the difficulties related to generational conflict, or fitting into a host society that did not always open its doors to these newcomers attempting to rid themselves of the trauma of rejection or violence suffered in the past. Such writers/performers such as Wajdi Mouawad, Mani Souleymanlou are emblematic of this but even more recently during Zones Théâtrales (Ottawa) we saw Sans Pays, by budding playwright Anna Beaupré Moulounda. She is a product of a Québécois mother and a father from the Congo, discussing growing up in Abitibi and what it meant to be an outsider. These cases are all different and they show how migration, generates multiple questions that each individual must confront.

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In the Body of the World: A View of Eve Ensler’s World

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   ,

Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

In the Body of the World

Written and performed by Eve Ensler

American Repertory Theater

Eve Ensler, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues is, in addition to being a writer and actress, a social activist who has devoted her life and work to battling sexual violence against the female body worldwide. She has visited sixty countries in her efforts to help and empower women. Her latest piece, a one-woman show In the Body of the World, adapted from Ensler’s eponymous memoir, is being premiered at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The play tells stories of female anguish as experienced by Eve Ensler and contemporary Congolese women. It attempts to intertwine Ensler’s experience of cancer with the atrocities committed against women’s bodies in the Congo’s civil war. However, it focuses far more on the details of Ensler’s life with the Congo serving to bookend the piece. Eve Ensler narrates; she plays no other characters. (Continue reading » )

Grounded: Actress soars in Cambridge Central Square Theatre Production.

Reviewed by on    All the world's a stage   ,

Grounded Celeste Oliva -A. R. Sinclair photo credit

Photo: A. R. Sinclair.  Celeste Oliva

George Brandt’s Grounded is a highly political one-woman show that tells a direct and complex story of the new role of women in warfare. The character’s symbolic aspect is emphasized by her lack of a name. She is simply The Pilot. The play is expressionistic in style in that the audience viscerally experiences her inner world. No opposing view exists.

The character, wonderfully played by Celeste Oliva, has risen to the rank of Major as a fighter pilot engaged in air to ground warfare, a role in which she takes enormous pride and pleasure. Flying in the “blue,” as she calls it, killing “the guilty,” in this case young male Iraqis, makes her feel righteous, “part of the sky,” administering punishment like a god.

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Agokwe : the staging makes the show!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,


Agokwe is written and performed by Waawaaté Fobister who very clearly benefitted from the superlative Buddies in Bad Times production values because the staging is what really makes this show. 

Visually it is very strong. Behind this performance lies an  excellent  team composed of Andy Moro’s  striking  graphics and  projected designs, Erika Iserhoff’s beautiful costumes – especially the raven who stole the show-  Lyon Smith’s otherworld sound design and Kimberly Purtell’s magic lighting. Last but certainly not least is the contribution of director and dramaturg Ed Roy who worked on the text and orchestrated the gestures, the movements and the way that Fobister’s story telling unfolds on stage.

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St Nicholas : McPherson the theatre critic does hallowe’en at the Cube

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,


McPherson’s theatre critic, who remains nameless, joins the ranks of the great tradition of hard drinking Irishmen connected with the theatre, the most famous one being no doubt, award winning playwright Brendan Behan whose works were never performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin (mentioned several times by our on stage critic) but whose legendary drinking took over his life and killed him at 41.

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