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

OLT’s An Inspector Calls: Dark Comedy or Impactful Social Drama ?

Reviewed by on    Student Reviews  

An Inspector Calls
Photo: Maria Vartanova

Reviewed by Natasha Lomonossoff, Wed. January 10, 2018

The Ottawa Little Theatre’s production of An Inspector Calls, the classic mid-20th century drama by British writer J.B. Priestley and directed by Jim McNabb, is one which leaves something to be desired for the more socially-conscious viewer.

As a performance given by actors, it is not entirely unsuccessful; the laughter elicited from the audience at even odd moments during the show attests to this. The task of meaningfully transmitting Priestley’s message of social responsibility for others, however, is where McNabb’s vision falls short. (Continue reading » )

Peter Pan and Wendy: Fly away Peter please!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Peter Pan and Wendy
Photo Maria Vartanova


Peter Pan and Wendy

By Doug Rand, directed by Riley Stewart

Based on the novel by J.M. Barrie


American playwright Doug Rand’s recent adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s 1911 novel gives Wendy equal time with Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up.

The script maintains most of the well-known elements of the story of how Peter Pan enticed the Darling children to fly away with him to Neverland. Captain Hook, the crocodile, the fairy Tinker Bell, the lost boys and the pirates all make appearances as the story moves slowly to its unlikely fairytale ending.

(Continue reading » )

Arsenic and Old Lace Classic Play for The Season

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Ottawa Little Theatre’s second play of it’s 105th season is the enduring classic, Arsenic and Old Lace. If there is a better play to stage around the Halloween season I don’t know what it would be. It is dark and creepy enough, but peppered with humour and spiced with a little bit of romance. It is the pumpkin pie of theatre; both a trick and a treat.

The characters are already well known to fans of the the classic 1944 Frank Capra film with Cary Grant. The sweet little old ladies that bury lonely gentlemen in the basement have a nephew that thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, another that is a menacing international criminal and a third that is a theatre critic in love with the preacher’s daughter. Add in some dim witted police officers and sure fire one liners and that’s how to construct a near perfect black comedy. Written by Joseph Kesselring in 1939 it first premiered on Broadway in 1941 and was a welcome distraction from the war that was occurring in Europe at the time. (Continue reading » )

Breaking the Code: A brilliant performance by Shaun Toohey highlights Hugh Whitemore’s intelligent drama.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Photo. Maria Vartanova. Shaun Toohey and Tanner Flinn.

After the great popularity of The Imitation Game and the extraordinary performance of Benedict Cumberbatch caught in dramatic close-ups on the screen, Hugh Whitemore’s play presents another perspective of Turing’s life which capitalizes on the special conventions of the stage and creates a play that does total justice to this mathematical genius. This work, rather than foregrounding the Enigma research, gives a more well-rounded portrait of Turing’s life and work, highlighting many explanations of his mathematical theories, his founding vision of the computer, of the future of digital technology as well as his work on deciphering the German code during WWII . The play also gives a much more in depth portrait of his personal life, his family relations and his sexuality which was to be his downfall in a stuffy, puritan British society that could not see the ridiculousness of its criminal laws regarding homosexuality still in force in the postwar era.

(Continue reading » )

Clybourne Park: A worthy production despite a shaky second act

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Racism, economic concerns and human tragedy sound unlikely themes for humour. Yet Bruce Norris’s savage satire, Clybourne Park, frequently prompts laughter — perhaps partly because of audience discomfort with being forced to face uncomfortable truths.

The title is taken from the fictional white neighbourhood in Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 drama A Raisin in the Sun. The address of the house that has just been sold to a black family is the same. Even Karl, the smarmy head of the community association, who tries to block the sale, has the same name and official reason for his attitude. (It will bring the property values down, he says.)

From here, the multi-award-winning Clybourne Park draws back the curtains of any political correctness and goes into attack mode. Before the veil of politeness is ripped away — particularly in the first act — things move slowly. Inane chatter about the origin of the name of a type of ice cream or a discussion about capital cities take a disproportionate amount of time, until the antagonism and fear of “the other” is laid bare.  (Continue reading » )

Perils of Persephone: Flashes of brilliance in a production that will grow as the play continues

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


There are flashes of the brilliance of his Wingfield series in Perils of Persephone by Dan Needles, but only flashes.

This comedy about the Currie family being “helped” to deal with a possible spill of nuclear waste by an MPP and the media-savvy Premier’s assistant works some of the time, but neither the script nor the Ottawa Little Theatre production sustain the momentum throughout.

For example, one character has to give a long description of how her ancestor found the partial skeleton of a mammoth in the swamp on the family property. Even though Chantal Despatie, who plays the teenage daughter telling the story, does her best to sound enthusiastic and make the tale interesting, she is faced with a daunting task, particularly as she is talking to a pot-zonked truck driver (Andrew Stewart clings to this aspect in his one-note performance.)

(Continue reading » )