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

Office Hours: McCabe’s cast and crew keep the tone light and entertaining!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Office Hours
Poster. Courtesy of Phoenix Players

Office Hours By Norm Foster. Directed by Jo-Ann McCabe. Phoenix Players

It’s Friday afternoon at the office, or, more accurately, at six offices, and a regular day of preparing for the weekend away from the city.

The busy week included firing a couple of employees, having a sycophantic encounter with an alcoholic film director out of original ideas, dealing with a couple of potential suicides, a pushy salesman, a self-centred psychiatrist, a domineering mother who believes herself responsible for her son’s sexual orientation, an overweight jockey, a steamy novelist and a dead racehorse. (Continue reading » )

Plan B: Dated Play Redeemed By Fine Performances

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Plan B by Michael Healey, Director and set: André Dimitrijevic

Quebec separatism  was still a burning issue when Canadian playwright Michael Healey wrote Plan B some 15 years ago. So the revival  on view at the Gladstone does seem something of an irrelevant period piece — with its lack of topicality now making the script’s deficiencies seem more pronounced.

On the positive side, there is the solid quality of  Andre Dimitrijavic’s Phoenix Players production — one in which the satirical barbs can still deliver and the great divide that continues to exist between two cultures can still be examined. (Continue reading » )

Plan B: A crisp production of a clever script

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Plan B By Michael Healey, directed by André Dimitrijevic, a Phoenix Players production.

Crying wolf too often may create indifference to a real threat. In Plan B, playwright Michael Healey presents a satirical and cynical look at Quebec’s regular return to the possibility of separation/sovereignty.

In the real world of the Quebec referendum of 1995, the threat almost became reality with less than one percentage point separating the go/stay votes. In Healey’s 2002 play, the separatists succeeded in a close vote (53%/47%).

In Plan B, set in a hotel room across the river from the nation’s capital, negotiations to arrange Quebec’s exit from Canada are underway. The catch, quickly revealed, is that these talks are merely a cover — complete with purposeful leaks to the media —while genuine negotiations take place elsewhere (Continue reading » )

Welfarewell : Social Satire or Middle Class Indulgence?

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region.   , ,

Guest reviewer, Jim Murchisson

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Photo: Phoenix Players. IEllen Clare O’Gallagher  in Welfarewell.

It was a cool, dank Friday evening as I headed into the warmth of the Gladstone Theatre to see the Phoenix Players production of Welfarewell. As I entered into the theatre I was greeted by a cozy, economical little set made up of three primary playing areas: stage left a table and chairs serve as various meeting areas (rehearsal hall, police station, holding room, etcetera) centre stage is used primarily as a jail cell but doubles as a courthouse with minor adjustments and the stage right space works well as a tiny basement apartment or bank teller’s area.

The premise of the play is pretty interesting as it goes. An aging actress can no longer make ends meet and strategizes to commit a crime, anticipating that she might enjoy a better quality of life in prison in her waning years. Playwright, Cat Delaney inserts Shakespeare, liberally ensuring that there are some great lines in this play, but she does not meet the challenge of matching the power of Shakespearean dialogue with her own.

The problem is that Cat Delaney’s characters are sadly stereotypical. You have the feeling that this was written by someone observing poor souls from a suburban window and dropping a loonie in their hat while looking the other way. The result is a play of middle class indulgence rather than social relevance.

(Continue reading » )