New day, new play…it’s a busy time in Ottawa’s small but mighty theatre community, and no fooling. There was quite a variety to choose from this Thursday, but I was off to the Cube Gallery (yay, an interesting space!) for the premiere of New Theatre of Ottawa’s production of ST.NICHOLAS by Conor McPherson. I’ve seen one McPherson bit before, last year when SevenThirty put on his SHINING CITY at Arts Court. That was a wicked little slice of Irish creepiness, so I had some good hopes for this’un, a vampire tale. Which reminds me, do you know what I’m absolutely fucking sick of..? God-damned Vampires.
I mean, sure I put in my time with BUFFY and ANGEL back in the day, and I made it through unscathed. But I’m DONE. We’re now in the era of Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Emo Menstrual Bromance, Kiss Me I’m a Vampire, and whatEVER the hell else the yawning spawn of Anne Rice are putting through the hack grinder and spewing out all over innocent teevee screens everywhere these days. The last thing I want to see on a stage is some generic, no-brainer prettyboy with bad fangs story.
Thankfully, this was NOT that.
ST.NICHOLAS is a one man show in two acts, starring one of the heavyweights of the Ottawa scene, John Koensgen. Just this year I’ve already seen him in EDUCATING RITA and BLACKBIRD, so I pretty much knew I was in good hands. And what a great role for him to dig his considerable chops into, sauntering out onto the stage as a drunken misanthrope of a theatre critic, awash with his own sense of importance, and bitter about his complete inability to relate to any-fucking-one, family included. He swaggers through the story of his rise to power, and immediate abuse of said power. It’s a smart and funny script, and John K gets every raucous laugh out of it. You almost don’t notice the dark turns when they approach..and they do.
The ‘vampire’ action kicks in in act two…it involves a beautiful girl our alcoholic anti-hero falls for, and his rash pursuit leads him to a chance encounter with…well, take a wild guess. Koensgen guides you along the strange road with wit and gusto, and it’s always a pleasure to watch him work. Although one of these days, I’d actually like to see him play a character who’s NOT a complete miserable prick…but then again, he does it so WELL…
It was a good opening night (free wine and cheese, score!), and afterwards I got to join the Thornhill Mob for a quick drink at the Carleton Tavern before retiring for the evening. Pardon for not having this report up yester, but I was all sleepy. And it would have been up about two hours ago, but Winston the Cat decided he really, really needed a good hour and a half nap on my lap this evening. Thank Goodness I had the new season of FUTURAMA downloaded to amuse myself while I waited for him to have his fill. He’s back again now, actually, but I’ve learned to type around him. It’s tricky work.
…where was I? Oh yeah…ST.NICHOLAS. Great dark fun, go see it, and tell gentleman Johnny K that the Visitor sent ya. Peace and soul, you creatures of the night,
The Visitor (and Winston)