So how great of a triple-win day was yesterday? Started off with a coffee date downtown with Fringe superheroine and Ubermom Natalie Joy Quesnel, wherein we discussed all things Fringey, plotted against our enemies, and just generally had a swell time chillin’. Then it was, of course, new comic day, and I scored myself the new MIGHTY SAMSON and TUROK, not to mention a little Grant & Rags ACTION COMICS action. Win.
But of course, this being a theatrical-centric bit of bloggery, ya know there’s gotta be some showtime coming up for the grand finale. And yes indeed, not only was there a show last night, but a premiere no less! And at the swanky Gladstone ‘Still not condos’ Theatre, one of my fav’rit places to go and take in the sights. I put on my Sunday best and hustled on down for Plosive Productions‘ kick-off to their part of the new Gladstone season, David Mamet’s SPEED-THE-PLOW. And I wasn’t the only one…I was doing lots of famous-person-gawking in the opening night crowd (Katie Bunting! Zach Counsil! Dave Dawson! So much coolness under one roof…). Even got a chance to chat up director Teri Loretto-Valentik just before it was time to head on in. Her hubby, certified mad Genius Ivo Valentik, took care of the set for this one, and holey god damned Hell, folks, I haven’t had this much of a gorgeous headache trying to absorb a set since LITTLE MARTYRS. Very seriously, the slick, sleek forced perspective on the deceptively simple set just HAS to be seen first hand. It’s a thing of twisted beauty. Oh, and David Magladry’s lighting is boffo, too. Killer job all around.
Now, I’d been very much anticipating this show…and not just because I got the chance to ‘do’ a little Mamet myself in the last few classes I had at the OSSD, with my scene partner Julie (John…John…John! John…). No, this was also going to be the professional debut of recent Ottawa Theatre School grad miss Kyla Gray, who aside from being a generally fantastic gal, has already been in a couple of the best shows of the last year. I was stoked to catch her on such a big night.
The play, by the pretty much legendary David Mamet, deals with Bobby Gould (John Muggleton), a newly-promoted head of production for a bigtime Hollywood movie house. One of his underlings and, theoretically, friends, Charlie Fox (Chris Ralph) shows up one day to drop a golden opportunity in both of their laps.. The only catch is they can’t pitch it until the next morning…and in between them and their golden opportunity is temp worker Karen (Kyla Gray), who Gould has his eye on. What ensues is a razor-sharp dissection of the duplicity and inhumanity that suffuses the entertainment industry, all told with Mamet’s trademark stop/start swearing-laced dialogue, that’s just damn beautiful to listen to.
John Muggleton, an old hand at the Ottawa Little Theatre, wears weary and worn-down Bobby Gould like a glove here, giving the embattled exec a surprising tenderness, but still oozing the sleaze when the moment calls for it. And Kyla indeed impresses as seemingly naive Karen…her mid-play scene with Bobby Gould, slowly wearing him down in his apartment, is charming and powerful. I did actually have a little trouble with some of Mamet’s dialogue for Karen, though…seriously, who says ‘needn’t’ anymore? But whatever. Kyla Gray can take your ‘needn’ts’ and turn them into gold, Mamet. So there.
And I really kinda do have to give a little extra praise to Chris Ralph, playing much against type as the ambitious, and occasionally vicious Charlie Fox. Ralph positively rocks the joint as the single-minded Fox, a desperate animal ready to use whatever tools are at his disposal to lift himself out of his current sorry state. It’s awesome to watch. As is the whole of STP, really…Teri and the gang did a smashing job, and Plosive’s follow up to THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is a gooder, for sure. Here’s to a successful run, and hopefully more Mamet in Ottawa, too. Really, it’s just nice to not being the ONLY one swearing in theatrical circles. Fuck.
Peace, love and soul, Ottawa,
The Visitor (and Winston)
PS: If you were wondering…there is TOTALLY not a plow in this play, like, ANYwhere. I looked. Just a heads up.