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

Shadows: Margo Macdonald reviewed at an earlier Fringe in Ottawa

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Shadows at the Fringe

Shadows at the Ottawa Fringe Written and acted by Margo MacDonald, Shadows is a glimpse into the life of Eva Le Gallienne, the famous British actress producer and director who made her professional life in United States. We see the important periods of her life in rapid flashbacks: her work with her repertory company, her roles in Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland as well as Hamlet and Hedda Gabler, Mainly we have an intimate look at her stormy lesbian relationship with Jo, another actress who was dedicated to Eva but Eva’s own demons get the better of both of them. . Two excellent performances by Sarah Finn as the beautiful Joe and Margo MacDonald as the tortured Eva. The play pinpoints the fact that living as a lesbian, even as a famous actress, was not easy during the first half of the 20th Century.. . MacDonald is captivating and utterly convincing as we watch her live her passion for her work and for Joe and we see her slow degeneration into alcoholism and depression. A plum role for an actress which Ms MacDonald played most beautifully.
Director Diana Fajrajsl created flashsbacks that made the shifts in time very clear, transforming a gas explosion into what looked like a theatrical stage effect so the whole play became a performance within a performance, pinpointing the very nature of Le Gallienne’s life. This is very intelligent and sensitive directing on Fajrajsl’s part. Good set by Lynn Cox and a haunting musical background.
Shadows is the best show Ive seen yet in the Fringe. Be warned. This is not a comedy. Its serious theatre..Plays at the Leonard Beaulne Studio
Alvina Ruprecht Ottawa, June 2010

Ottawa Fringe 2013: Five Reviews: 6 Guitars, The Frenzy of Queen Maeve, The Pit, Matchstick and Windfall.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

6 GUITARS by Chase Padgett and Jay Hopkins, performed by Chase Padgett

Orlando FL.

Six types of music expertly presented by six characters, all in the skin of one actor, 6 Guitars is a musical and dramatic treat. Actor Chase Padgett transforms himself from an 87-year-old blues musician to a young jazz snob, a cutesy folk singer, a rough rocker, a Spanish classical guitarist or a down-home country musician not only by voice, accent and stance but also by such marked changes in his expression that it seems as though his physical features have altered.

The content is interesting and often funny. Padgett’s timing is first class and his talent as a guitarist is clear, particularly in the closing number in which he demonstrates the various musical styles. This one is a must-see.

The Frenzy of Queen Maeve By Anthony Hopkins

Saskatoon SK

Director: Josh Ramsden

Set in 1970s Northern Ireland, The Frenzy of Queen Maeve focuses on one woman’s choice between two lovers and two lives. Should she stay with her true love, an IRA operative, or go with her wealthy English boyfriend to a better life?

The script is interesting, despite periodically stretching credibility and sympathy. Performances by all three actors, Jackie Block, Chris Hapke and Nathan Howe, are strong, although thee is the occasional problem with accent authenticity.

The Pit By Martin Dockery

London ON

This surreal look at the bottomless pit of marital relationships aims at the style of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter but is more miss than hit. Despite strong performances and good chemistry between performers Vanessa Quesnelle and Martin Dockery, the material does not work much of the time.

Matchstick By Nathan Howe

Saskatoon SK

Director: Kristen Holfeuer

Matchstick is billed as the story of a woman who married one of the most hated men in the world. Its primary focus is on the classic pattern of wife abuse. The picture that emerges is how the initially charming suitor becomes the controller, removing his victim from familiar territory and friends to ensure greater control through isolating her. Well-stylized performances from Nathan Howe and Lauren Holfeuer, but the material is too repetitive and stretched way beyond its interest level.

Windfall Jelly By Eleanor Crowder

Ottawa ON

The metaphor of making apple jelly and the device of the cast becoming a stylized chorus diminish rather than enhance this tale of a marriage in trouble and a difficult father/son relationship. Too many special effects and too little substance to hold the interest in this one.

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Ottawa Fringe 2013. Occupy Me: theatre and yoga meet in this relaxing moment for the initiated and the uninitiated.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.  

Occupy Me by Bronwyn Steinberg and Sarah Waisvisz at Studio 311

An apparently real Yoga class lead by a Bronwyn Steinberg (Sarah Lotus Blossom in the play)  who is in fact a professional teacher of Yoga, slides between the boundaries of theatre and the Hindu rituals of Yoga. The teacher becomes a self-reflective character questioning her own involvement with the yoga faith and her engagement with the Occupy movement and all the political outcomes of her reflection on the well-being of the earth. Moments of humour blend with this pleasant moment of relaxation, and a chance to see the supple Steinberg at work with her  authentic exercises, for those who are into yoga (you can do the exercises with her) and even for those of us who are not part of the initiated. People left feeling good after that work out. Takes place in a rehearsal room on the third floor of the Theatre Department of Ottawa University.

Ottawa Fringe 2013, The Day We Grew Wings by Victoria Luloff and Stewart Matthews

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  

Directed by Matthews with Zach Counsil, Nick Surgess and Victoria Luloff, a Lonely Egg production.

A flight of fancy as a young girl who imagines and inhabits a whole world of fairy tales, magical tales, and children’s literature of varying depths. Mention is made of Arabian nights, Mother Goose, Grimm’s tales, and all manner of imaginary creatures that haunt the imaginations of young people. She finds herself in her own world of the story of those twin brothers, the winged brother and the non-winged brother who work out their own family problems. Perhaps the underlying preoccupations of a personal nature. Its sometimes pure fantasy, sometimes it appears to be a darker investigation into the way imaginary creatures reveal the troubling depths of fantasy, take that dark dragon-like creature whose voice off booms out over the stage making them all tremble.

The problem with this show is that the text is trying to do too much. It’s an accumulation of all kinds of interesting things that pile up non-stop but are not worked out. The author jumps too quickly from one segment to the next where we have to pick up other pieces of another narrative, before we even realize what is happening. Rather jarring. In this case, less would have been better. It needs some weeding out because there is some very good material here. One also sees the results of that emphasis on corporeal training at the Ottawa Theatre School which works well here but it still feels like a student production. Best thing about the show are actors Zach Counsel and Nick Surgess. Zach is already a seasoned performer and is obviously having fun here, Nick has a good solid voice and lots of presence. Victoria Luloff did not quite make it although she is very attractive on stage . She has to enunciate, she garbles her words too much or she seems to whisper. One feels she has not much experience on stage. The whole thing needs more precision for the blackouts and mass of sound cues but that will come, Opening day is always a bit of a last dress rehearsal. In general though, it’s the play that overwhelms with its mass of material. It needs sorting…

For older children (7 and up) .not small ones. They might be a bit scared – or just plain confused.

Plays at Academic Hall

Ottawa Fringe 2013 – In The First PLace by Insight Theatre.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.   ,

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In the First Place’ is a series of personal monologues performed individually by seven courageous youths about their first experience with love and sex, including identity issues surrounding these age old topics.  At a sensitive time during their teen years, the orators emotionally express their ups and downs with raw honesty.  Well done, considering it is a first time for a few of the young actors to appear in front of an audience.
The stories told, deal with abuse, awkwardness, and growing up too fast.  They also tell of many firsts such as love, a kiss, sex, dates, fantasies, coming out, and what do people say when under the covers.  Simple props are used effortlessly by the performers.  On the sparse staging area, a chair, a blanket, a  glass and a pair of high heeled shoes add to the drama.

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