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

Ottawa Fringe 2011: Compulsive Characters run amuk in Glitch.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

A highly entertaining  study on the very process of  theatre itself,  that shows how a single script can be given multiple interpretations and come to mean something totally different, as long as the director remains in control! .

We see a small bar centre stage with a few tables and chairs on either side. We hear a machine like grating sound as a male character pushes the door and enters. There is a barmaid waiting to greet him. He gets a whiskey, makes conversation about the dark stormy sky, as he lapses into an apparent depression.  A couple arrives. The conversation is tense, the girlfriend arrives and their conversation is also focussed on the depressing weather and she suddenly leaves, exasperated by the darkness of their conversation.  Lights out.

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Ottawa Fringe 2011: Nancy Kenny on roller skates dreams of being a superhero!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

The tandem Tanya Levy and Nancy Kenny obviously works well together . It took  a rather good script and turns it into something that shows off Nancy Kenny’s excellent talents as a comic actress. Together, they  gave the material a lot of comic and  emotional depth and a show that certainly did speak to a lot of people. That  is what caught my attention here.

There is our heroine, still single at  30,  watching TV, munching on popocorn and wondering what  she has been  doing with her life?  Nothing much  really,  except dreaming of strong female superheroes.

Then,  because of her sports oriented sister,  whom the actress mimics with great precision, our heroine  has an epiphany.  She  discovers  the roller derby sport and  enters a world of real female superheroes on roller blades. And even though she has never skated in her life, the  fantasy life becomes  real,  and she blossoms into a new person with the help of a super Hip Hop chroegrapher from Montreal apparently who did a great rhythmic  number with her as she dons her "superwoman"  Derby  Uniform for the first time.  Such precision and finely tuned work is perfect escapism and purely satisfying  entertainment.

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Ottawa Fringe 2011. Preshrunk. What Happens When the Shrink Doesn’t Show?

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.  

Who in this world is sane? This is the question Kainz Players’ dark comedy Preshrunk asks. Five psychiatric patients who arrive for their usual Tuesday meeting with their psychiatrist. When he does not show up, mild chaos ensues as each of the patient’s problems are revealed both through their discussions with each other and monologues. Soon, it is revealed by a detective posing as a grief counselor that the doctor was killed, and the most likely suspects are those in the room.

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Ottawa Fringe 2011 Callaghan Improv Theatre. Sexual Tyrannosaurus

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Ottawa, June 19, 2011

Jack Callaghan- international adventurer and seeker of justice. What will he do next? That’s entirely up to you in this hilarious improvisational, audience-centric comedy. Although there were minor things to be worked on- the music was slightly too loud for the classroom space and sometimes the blocking could have been just a little bit better- overall this performance was a delight. The Toronto comedy troupe Sexual Tyrannosaurus (Sex T-Rex) does a great job of presenting a funny sketch based on the exciting life of Callaghan. Particularly impressive was their ability to keep the play from rambling, as so often happens in improv. The actors really came together with just enough self consciousness to do away with any possibilities of pretentiousness. A great comedy that had the audience cracking up in their seats.

Ottawa Fringe 2011: Life Presents a New Fictional Reality

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

First of all read this note from the Banff school web site:

Maureen LaBonté is a dramaturge, translator, teacher, and program coordinator. She was named head of the Banff Playwrights’ Colony in 2006, after working there as resident dramaturge since 2003. From 2002 to 2004, she was literary manager overseeing play development at The Shaw Festival. From 1993-2001, she worked at the National Theatre School of Canada where she developed and ran a two-year pilot Directing program and then coordinated the NTSC’s Playwriting program and Playwrights’ residency. She has translated more than 30 Québécois plays into English

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Fringe Festival 2011: Complex Numbers

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the area  

Fiona (Stephanie Halin), who likes her sex slightly rough, is itching to have an extramarital affair. She has her sights set on co-worker Dan (Tim Anderson), and he’s game. Fiona’s husband Alex (J.P. Chartier) wants to be accepting of his wife’s hankerings — in fact, they’ve even done a workshop on how to do it (how to have an extramarital affair, that is) so that no one gets hurt. Also in the picture is Maggie (Ellen Manchee), the hypochondriac boss of Fiona and Dan who appears occasionally to nudge the plot along. Jenn Keay plays the workshop facilitator; seated behind a semitransparent curtain, she reads a few passages from a textbook about the ins-and-outs of extramarital sex.

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Ottawa Fringe 2011. Every Story Ever Told. A Fringe Favourite.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Ryan Gladstone is a very funny man. He’s also talented: he has to be, to try telling every famous story ever written – from the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh to War and Peace to Rocky (including the five sequels) – in a single hour. George Orwell’s Animal Farm takes about 10 seconds, Romeo and Juliet less. That leaves more time, maybe a whole minute or more, for big numbers like Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung. Heck, he even squeezes in a semi-improvised tale based on audience suggestions. Friday night, when he debuted his new show, that improvisation with input from a sold-out audience had something to do with alien romance, chocolate and a plot to destroy Earth. Gladstone has the energy of a hyperactive youngster and the nerve of a stand-up comic, and it’s hard to tell whether he or the audience is having more fun. Even the rough edges of his brand-new show (on Friday, he consulted a cheat sheet more than once) fit his gonzo performance style. The show’s destined to be a fringe favourite.

Ottawa Fringe 2011. Live From the Belly of the Whale

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

What stories did you create as a kid to help you manage the world? Were you a dragon-slayer? An hypnotically beautiful princess? And, now an adult, what stories help you navigate a smaller but no less puzzling world? Nicolas Di Gaetano and Emily Pearlman, the creative duo at the heart of Ottawa’s Mi Casa Theatre, invite us to ponder such questions – along with simply reveling in their fantastical style of theatre – in this new work in progress. Using a homemade armoire as the major set piece and enclosing the audience in a rough-hewn space like a child would make for a living room performance, Di Gaetano and Pearlman do what they do best: evoke memories, fragile hope, visions of fantasy and reality, and a profound sadness as they unveil a story about two young siblings. They also make some pretty good whale noises and sing original tunes. Is the new show as good as Countries Shaped Like Stars, their fringe hit of two years ago? It hasn’t yet found that same degree of lightness to buoy up the heavy stuff, but it’s well on its way.

Live from the Belly of the Whale

Mi Casa Theatre

At Saint Paul’s Eastern United Church

Ottawa Fringe 2011. Question Period…the Musical

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Whatever it lacks in acting, musical and production finesse, this sprawling Ottawa creation almost makes up for in spiritedness and determination to show its audience a good time. Eric Kendrick plays Finn Opatowskopoulos, an idealistic neophyte MP devoted to eradicating poverty. Stiff-armed by reality – the show is rife with opportunistic politicians, do-nothing senators and demanding constituents – Finn tries to remain true to himself although that eventually traps him in a politico-moral quagmire. Along the way, the musical spoofs musicals, spotlights a budget speech by a finance minister with hip-hop aspirations, and makes it clear that this is a show by well-meaning but under-rehearsed and directed performers. The musical, which turns out to be a vigorous call to civic engagement by all Canadians, takes pot shots at all political stripes, although Stephen Harper’s Conservatives loom especially large in the crosshairs.

Question Period the Musical

edSpective Productions

At Alumni Auditorium,

Ottawa Fringe 2011. Old Legends

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

A sweet moment of storytelling and a play about “memory”,   written and directed by James FitzGerald and featuring Emma Godmere.  It takes place  in one of the most awkward fringe venues (I hear that the basement of the Royal Oak is THE worst) because when the room is full you can’t see the acting area beyond the fourth row unless you happen to be over 6 feet tall. . Our colleague Patrick Langston has all the luck!

I made myself little in the first row where I always prefer not to be, because I don’t want to risk disturbing the actors with my scribbling.

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