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

The Sound of Music: a Dismal Wrong-headed Revival of this Musical

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

The next time the National Arts Centre English Theatre tackles something like The Sound of Music perhaps it should seek guidance from people who know what they’re doing.

Perhaps someone like Ottawa’s distinguished community theatre group, Orpheus, which has been around for more than a century and enjoys a solid reputation for maintaining professional standards in the staging of its musicals.

The NAC’s godawful treatment of a seminal Rodgers and Hammerstein hit will no doubt have its admirers. After all, familiarity breeds contentment, and there’s no surer way to ensure audience approval than to schedule a show so familiar, so popular, so ingrained in our cultural conscience, that we enter the theatre already humming the music we’re going to hear. Furthermore, there’s nothing like audience participation to ensure a further stilling of our discriminatory senses — hence the invitation we received the other night to sing along with the singers. If audience response seemed somewhat tepid on opening night, maybe that’s because some of the on-stage singing was falling lamentably below basic adequacy.

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NAC’s English theatre Impishly Transfers Moliere’s Tartuffe to a Newfoundland Fishing Village

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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Andy Jones as Tartuffe, Photo by Andree Lanthier

It’s fascinating to see how well Tartuffe adapts to the outport culture of Newfoundland. Or perhaps we should modify this and note that we’re talking about the particular outport culture that emerges from the impish mind of Andy Jones, a social satirist who knows his island well and remains ever alert to its possibilities when it comes to creating comic mayhem.

Indeed, Jones’s gleeful new version Moliere’s 350-year-old masterpiece, does have the rollicking cadences of a salt-water ballad — albeit an off-kilter one. And in Jillian Keiley’s spirited production for the NAC English theatre, it carries the tang of an irreverent tall tale about duplicity and gullibility on the Rock. It’s a testament to Keiley’s direction, to the work of the cast, and to designer Patrick Clark who has concocted a splendid two-level period set for the occasion, that for two-and-a-half hours you’re ready to engage in the fantasy that Moliere’s vision of human nature at its most preposterous actually did play out here, on this island, in the late spring of 1939. (Continue reading » )

Magnetic North Theatre Festival Unveils 2013 Programme ‘CANADA, ON STAGE.’

Reviewed by on    Arts News   ,

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For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again . Photo:  Barbara Zimonick  with  Margo Kane and Lorne Cardinal

OTTAWA – The annual festival, which alternates between its home base in Ottawa and other Canadian cities every other year, is back in Canada’s Capital and will run June 7-15 at the National Arts Centre, University of Ottawa Academic Hall and Arts Court.

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Brenda Leadlay. Photo:  Andrew Alexander

Magnetic North Artistic Director Brenda Leadlay proudly unveiled the programming for the 2013 Festival.
“We’re thrilled to be bringing Canada’s top theatre home to Canada’s Capital. You’re invited to immerse yourself in nine days of premiere plays, parties and parleys – a smorgasbord of the best in Canadian theatre,” she said.
Theatre-goers will enjoy fabulous performances and exciting social events and encounters with festival artists.
“It’s tantalizing theatre, to share and take-away.”

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Innocence Lost: Really a play about us

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.  

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Photo. Barb Gray

Although it appears to be a play About Steven Truscott,  Innocence lost is really a play about us, our place in the community and our responsibility to act upon our knowledge, analytical abilities and consciousness. Beverley Cooper’s story about the miscarriage of justice in the well-known case of Steven Truscott’s trial sets a few unsettling questions deep into our mind:

When, why and how does an intelligent human being turn into a particle mashed up into the invisible, thoughtless grey mass? What makes the majority into blind followers of so-called “betters” rather than independent thinkers capable of making their own decisions? And, above all, where does a community end up if individuals allow themselves to be manipulated into thinking the way that socially imposed authorities want or need them to?

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Innocence Lost: Theatre of High Calibre.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

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Photo: Barbara Gray. 

NAC English Theatre/Centaur Theatre Company (Montreal) co-production

For the Ottawa Citizen.

Innocence has to yield, eventually, to experience. Innocence violated is a whole other matter.

In the case of Steven Truscott, the 14-year-old sentenced to hang in 1959 after being wrongfully accused of raping and murdering 12-year-old Lynne Harper near Clinton, Ont., innocence was violated on so many levels it’s almost beyond comprehension.

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