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 Gladstone unveils a fine new play with Finishing The Suit

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo: Andrew Alexander

Lawrence Aronovitch’s new play, Finishing The Suit, comes to us simply, without pretension. But this tender drama about a lonely gay tailor coming to terms with a crushing personal loss deserves attention from anyone who cares about good theatre.

This Bear @ Co. Production is at the Gladstone until March 11, and it may be recommended not only for a beautifully written 70-minute script, a piece both psychologically and culturally observant, but also for a trio of strong performances from Matt Pilipiak, Isaac Giles and David Whiteley. (Continue reading » )

Finishing the Suit: Bear & Co. delivers a sensitive and clear production

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

Photo: Andrew Alexander

Finishing the Suit

By Lawrence Aronovitch

Bear & Co.

Directed by Joël Beddows

Coming to terms with the past is the only way to prepare for the future. Even then, putting grief to rest is incredibly difficult.

This is the theme of Lawrence Aronovitch’s fine play, Finishing the Suit, currently having its premiere production from Bear & Co. at the Gladstone.

The title is partly drawn from the reality of completing a morning coat (also referred to as a mourning coat in the context of the script). It is also a metaphor for sewing up the past through memory and conversation.

Directed with sensitivity and clarity by Joël Beddows, the three-person cast tells of the two people that have had the greatest impact on the tailor (Matt Pilipiak), The two, David (David Whiteley) —who is to wear the morning coat in death—and Jimmy (Isaac Giles) are both dead, but remain alive in the tailor’s heart and remembrance, almost to the exclusion of his daily existence. (Continue reading » )

The Ghomeshi Effect: Sexual assault results in something being broken! A cathartic encounter at the Gladstone Theatre.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

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Photo: Andrew Alexander . from left to right: Marc-André Charette, Emmanuel Simon, Gabriel Lalonde, Front: Annie Lefebvre, Leah Archambault, Mekdes Teshome.

How could one name this performance that is now running at the Gladstone?? It could be docudrama; it could be multi-disciplinary theatre; it could be corporeal theatre although the text is central to the event; it could be verbatim theatre, or even socially engaged theatre that goes for the jugular as it tries to transform our culture in the same way R. Schechner and J. Beck in the 1970’s hoped to do with their political and ritual performances. Perhaps, it also wants to make people aware that many individuals are living in a “war zone” when it comes to sexual violence in our society. In fact it’s a bit of all that. A huge agenda that might seem almost overwhelming for director Jessica Ruano who also wrote the script, for the choreographer who conceived the movement portions, and for the actors who had to shift moods, narratives and characters nonstop during 75 minutes!

(Continue reading » )

Spring Awakening The Musical: Orpheus Musical Theatre is now in the big leagues!!

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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Photo: The Orpheus cast and production team.

The original German version of the play was published in 1891 and then performed by Wedekind’s own company in 1906. Because of the subject matter where adolescents were concerned, it created much controversy and was not staged in German until after WWII while the American musical was first staged in 2006 based on a new English language translation that followed the one that appeared in 1917. Such a long and controversial history which also includes a movie, makes it difficult to keep track of this show which appears nowadays to fuse two time periods, two visions of the theatre, nevertheless producing a most stunning story and perfectly constructed scenario, built around a tragic vision of young people .

The play shows how a society that represses young people, brings with it all forms of destruction, even after the moment when the central sexual taboo has been transgressed, the downfall of all those who have grown with a sense of guilt in relation to their bodies, cannot be avoided. Tragedy is inevitable because the evil worm has been planted too deeply in their minds. . This devastating critique of the stern bourgeois society at the end of the 19th Century, is represented by the way young people listen to the needs of their bodies, and their most natural desires , but this awakening of sexuality is repressed by parents who imposed a military-like regime on their young ones at that time. And this in depth analysis of sexual repression relies on Freud’s news notions of the psyche that started appearing at the same period. The performance becomes a fascinating mixture of sexual fantasy, and real confrontation with unyielding social institutions that wield their power over natural human instincts.

(Continue reading » )

Rocky Horror Show: The Cult Musical Comes to Ottawa

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

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Photo Allan Mackey. Centre stage Tim Oberholzer as Frank’n Furter..

When Tim Oberholzer leaves Ottawa later this year, we will have lost one of our most versatile actors. No one but Tim could play Dr. Frank’n Furter, the snarling, emoting, transvestite glamrock vampire , the ultimate genderbender body that moves like a sinewy snake, that sings like David Bowie and draws the eye towards his/her person in spite of the overwhelming crowd of girating sexy creatures with flashy wigs, stripped down costumes and timeless lyrics. The music of Richard O’Brien is of course one of the backbones of this show. .

Very skilfully directed by Stewart Matthews who made it all look painless and so utterly high class in spite of the limited material means which were at times rather obvious, the show bounced along at a fabulous pace, carried by the voices and excellent acting by the main characters:

(Continue reading » )

Absurd Person Singular: A rewarding response to the play by that canny ringmaster John P. Kelly.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   , ,

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Photo: David Pasho

In many ways, this is a sterling 40th anniversary production of one of Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s best and funniest plays. Despite one regrettable error in judgment, it’s rewarding to see the way in which that canny ringmaster, director John P. Kelly, responds to the demands posed by Absurd Person Singular. In chronicling the fortunes and misfortunes of three painfully disparate couples over three consecutive Christmases, Kelly certainly delivers on the comedy, but never at the expense of the inner darkness and desolation which tinges Ayckbourn’s portrait of a society and class system in convulsion.

(Continue reading » )

The Importance of Being Ernest Suffers From a Badly Conceived Staging.

Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

The new theatre Plosive productions has created a monster!  They have taken a talented cast, a most witty classic of the Western English language stage, and turned the performance into a mish-mash of styles and staging errors that even makes the good actors look weak.  Despite moments that do work, one has the feeling that generally, something has gone terribly wrong.

Of course The storyline is beautifully crafted by the playwright.  Mr.  Worthy who becomes Earnest in the city and Jack in the country, is eventually upstaged by his rakish cousin Algernon who turns up under an assumed name, to get the girl, who happens to be Jack’s ward Cecily Cardew. It’s full of plot twists, witty lines and hidden meanings about suppressed identities which always appealed to Oscar Wilde’s sense of provocative humour, for obvious reasons.

(Continue reading » )

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