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 Clean House: you could die laughing

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The Clean House.  Photo: Andrew Alexander    The Clean House presented by Three Sisters Theatre Company at the Gladstone on Wednesday is a well crafted comedy that does not exploit cheap laughs. Rather it deftly explores relationships, anxiety, love and death with thought provoking and illuminating experiences. Sarah Ruhl has crafted a play that explores  relationships between women with a sharp focus on love, mortality, rivalry, jealously and forgiveness with balance and wit. (Continue reading » )

The Clean House: as a Pulitzer Prize finalist the play falls flat.

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The clean House
Photo. poster courtesy of The Gladstone theatre

The Clean house by Susan Ruhl, Three Sisters Theatre Company, Directed by Mary Ellis

The most striking aspect of Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House is that the sum of the parts is far less than the play as a whole. The most amazing view of this 2004 play’s history is that it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. (2005 must have been a dry year for playwriting in the U.S.)

(Continue reading » )

Grounded ; Death by Remote Control….at the Gladstone

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Grounded features  Alexis Scott

 The play Grounded by George Brant is an interesting concept. It poses questions about the modern military and the role of women in the traditional male roles of service. It also examines the depersonalization of combat through robotics and in particular drone warfare. When we first meet the pilot played by Alexis Scott she is still a hands on pilot,  flying  a plane in a real life eternally blue sky. She revels in the the Air Force fraternity and knowing that she is an isolated sister in the testosterone infused world of the flight officer.

After having gone through pregnancy and motherhood, the pilot returns to work only to find that technology has dramatically altered the life she knew. Through the use of drone, the blue experience of actual flying has been replaced by grey humdrum of monitors and remote control. She finds herself travelling from one screen at work to another one at home. I don’t believe that the author’s point is that war is less horrible or more glorious in real life. I think his intent is more about the numbing effect of technology that might actually be an impediment to diagnosing the prevalence of PTSD and other stress related side effects of war.

(Continue reading » )

Mothers & Daughters; World premiere shows much talent but the mother/daughter relationship not sufficiently explored.

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Mothers & Daughters
Photo Maria Vartanova

 

We are full throttle into the Ottawa Theatre season with Performances at Ottawa Little Theatre, Kanata Theatre, Central Square and of course the N.A.C. with the GCTC season just around the corner. I chose to attend Mothers & Daughters Friday evening. It is the world premiere of a new musical penned by S. Oscar Martin with music and lyrics by Jeff Rogers, Rich Rankin, Eric MacIntyre, Andy Ladouceur, Zach Martin and S. Oscar Martin. (Continue reading » )

Maestro: un choix de texte douteux

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Maestro par Claude Montminy
En français, adapté pour l’Outaouais par Claude Montminy.
Mise en scène : Gilles Provost,
Scénographie et éclairages : David Magladry

Géré par Gilles Provost, bien connu dans la région en tant que comédien, professeur et ancien directeur du Théâtre de l’ile, ce spectacle semble cacher une parodie féroce de la classe moyenne québécoise/outaouaise , transformée en frénésie comique par la mécanique héritée de la farce française. En fait, dès le début, on se pose des questions sur la logique dramaturgique de cette œuvre qui mélange les styles de jeu, les thématiques et les stéréotypes de toutes sortes au point où on finit par se laisser bercer par la folle confusion de ce microcosme peuplé d’ambitieux, de misogynes, de mal élevés, de manipulateurs . L’auteur se moque de tout le monde, même du public qui ose rigoler devant cette parade de bouffonneries inouïes. (Continue reading » )

Little Shop of Horrors: Show explores the darker side of the human condition.

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Photo: Maria Vartanova

Little Shop of Horrors
Book and lyrics by Howard Ashman
Music by Alan Menken
Theatre Kraken
Directed by Don Fex

Frequently referred to as a cult musical, Little Shop of Horrors delivers as much blood and gore and almost as many bodies as Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Funny but too frightening for the younger set to be called family entertainment, the book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, with music by Alan Menken (the team responsible for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin) combines a tentative romance, an abusive relationship and a dictatorial blood-sucking plant in a somewhat unpleasant morality tale. (Be careful what you wish for. The end does not justify the means. Even bad guys deserve fair treatment. Take your pick.) (Continue reading » )

Little Shop of Horrors – a first-rate performance of this grotesque campy musical!! Theatre Kraken is back on track!!

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photo: Maria Vartanova

Theatre  Kraken  has never been my favourite Community Theatre but this new production of  Little Shop of Horrors just changed all that.   The show  began with a surge of vocal and musical  energy  blasting from the  five piece stage band under the direction of Chris Lucas. There was also the impeccable precision of  director Don Fex  and  choreographer Brenda Solman  whose efforts were right on the mark.

This story of Mr. Mushnik,(with the  ever powerful  and oh so versatile Lawrence Evenchick ) owner of a flower shop in the skid row district of New York, becomes the site of a strange event that suggests the War of the Worlds except that it is a hillarious  drama and love story,  peppered with Jewish jokes   and Yiddish expressions  and an underlying  tragic history of the second world war. Something that Mel Brooks himself could have created but this  musical was adapted from the film  by  Alan Menken- music,  and Howard Ashman-, book and lyrics. With strong musicians (the keybords were particularly noteworthy),  director Don Fex’s  captured the  underlying seriousness of these campy characters with great style to produce a very strong show.

(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 » )

Lawrence Aronovitch’s Finishing the Suit an insightful portrayal of grief and mourning

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Photo: Andrew Alexander

This is a true heartbreaker. In Bear and Co’s latest offering at the Gladstone Theatre, Ottawa-based playwright Lawrence Aronovitch pens a script that delves into the grief of lost love. This world premiere is largely set in a tailor’s shop in 1070s New York, where being a publicly gay man is criminal. A young, nameless tailor works on a bespoke suit for a funeral. In the midst of his work, his mind wanders to his life’s greatest loves – the Duke of Windsor and a fiery Irish actor – who are now both dead, and suddenly conjures their ghosts onto the stage. (Continue reading » )

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