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Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Monday Foofarah! the Third

In Just me doing stuff on November 28, 2011 at 8:58 pm

AAAaaaahhh, this whole ‘working for a living’ thing is poorly named, I say, because that shit is killing me.   Working in a restaurant in Xmas season can be moider, I’m tellin’ ya.  Especially with a day schedule, that essentially means it’s dark when you arrive at work, AND dark when you finish.  I haven’t seen the sun wince Thursday!  It’s making me all gloomy and depressionable.  But the Foofarah stops for no man (and only three women, none of whom have objected so far, so…), and I’m sure there’s SOMEthing I could talk about that I could, if the wine holds out, I can tell myself somebody actually gives a shit about.

FIRST AND LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  This week sees the second and final week of the god-damned superb MARCEL PURSUED BY THE HOUNDS from Chamber Theatre, at the legendary Carleton Tavern.  Wednesday through Saturday, check it out!   And starting up, we got a whole slew of action…GCTC and Company of Fools team up for A MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE, and the Ottawa Little Theatre premieres I HATE HAMLET, both starting on the 29th for good long runs.  For good SHORT runs, there’s Sock ‘n Buskin’s THIS IS OUR YOUTH, TotoToo’s HIS GRACE (I think…it’s no longer mentioned on their website, so maybe’s it’s gone away until another day..?), and SAUCE BRUNE at La Nouvelle Scene.  Still plenty to see and do this week, kids, so get on out there.

Oh, and apparently there’s some sort of CAPITAL CRITICS CIRCLE award ceremony happening right now at the OLT…good on them, and congrats to all the nominess and winners.  For my money, they’re all winners…shame the CCC seems to have missed the two best productions of the year, tho.  More on that in a month or so.

Also, a big shoutout to Dead Unicorn Ink and their sold-out remount of their Fringe killer PLAYING DEAD this past week.  It sounds like it was a grand success, and I had a hoot seeing the show again in a more proper venue.  The tech especially ran WAY smoother, the zombies were as cool as ever, and I can’t wait to see what they have cooking for the 2012 Ottawa Fringe.  By the by, the O-Fringe just had their lottery for the 2012 edition, and if you wanna see the companies that made it in (of course you do), check it out on their website HERE.

Sigh.  I was gonna write other stuff, like some comix blather, but I just can’t can’t muster the will.  Maybe a little something from Buffybot’s playlist will liven me up:

…yeah, okay, that’s better.  But I still don’t want to laden the chud down with too much comic talk…Jim Lee’s design skills SUCK, can I just say that?  Everyone in the Justice League looks like they shop at the Gap now.  It’s stoopid.  So there.

DIGI60:  There’s omething positive!  This Saturday, I’ll be heading out to Centrepointe theatre to watch on e batch of the entries in this year’s Digi60 film competition.  Specifically, the batch with Ken Godmere’s short film bur in it, featuring himself, Garret Quirk, Jen Vallance, and the unlovable schumck writing this post slinking around behind the bar, trying not to get in anyone’s light.  I’m pretty stoked to see how Ken’s going to present this film, which was staged and shot in SUCH cool ways that I can’t even fathom how he’s gonna mke it work.  But Ken is kinda magic like that, so…should be a good time, folks.

AUDITIONIZING:  Nothing new to report since last week…I’ll likely be missing one audition I’d sort-of planned on, for Jodi Sprung-Boyd’s new Moliere presentation.  I read the play and it sounded fantastic, but chickened out.  They were all students trying out for it!  And I’m just a creepy old dude who LOOKS sort of student-ish.  It’s better this way, trust me.  But I have another one planned in a few weeks, and THIS one, I’m getting my hopes up for.  Stay tuned.

MY CURRENT FAV’RIT SHOWS ON TEEVEE:  Community, Dave’s Old Porn…shit, I can only think of 2.  Oh well. Actually, Castle and Mentalist are cool, too.  I’d kill to see a crossover (as, in a way, they’re both essentially the same show).

FAV’RIT ALL TIME SHOWS:  The Young Ones, Twin Peaks, Firefly, Mighty Boosh, Doctor Who.  And there’s lots more where that came from.  LAND OF THE LOST, for example.  Or the entire Krofft oeuvre, really.  In fact, here’s Cyndi Lauper singing the theme song to ELECTRA WOMAN AND DYNA GIRL:

Now that your evening is much, much better than it was before, I’ll tell you that Andy Massingham has just won best pro actor at the CCC awards, and Third Wall picked up one for BLACKBIRD.  Kudos, folks, you do yourselves proud.  That’s the only winners I’ve scoped on Twitter so far, and that’s as much work as I’m currently willing to put into it.  Hope everyone has a pleasant Monday, pleasanter than mine, and if anyone wants to join me this wednesday at Carleton for THIS IS OUR YOUTH, lemme know.  I’m starting to set a rather grim record for not being able to score dates even when I have free tickets (I may have tickets to Thursdays MIDWINTERS DREAM TALE premiere, or I may not…I’m really not sure.  Theatre can be confusing sometimes).

Peace, love and soul, everyone,

The Visitor (and Winston)

A Mama Worth Remembering

In Theatre on November 25, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Another month, another show at the Gladstone, and I couldn’t be more tickled about it…and this time, it was a first for me.  That is, it was my first time seeing Community Theatre kids the Phoenix Players strut their stuff, even as they had their first ever night playing on the Gladstone stage.  I’m loving the very communal feel they have going at the revitalized Gladstone, with main players 730 and Plosive clearly more than willing to share their great space with other members of the theatrical community.  It’s an encouraging sign.

Phoenix made their little Italy debut with John Van Druten’s I REMEMBER MAMA, which is a classic on a few different levels, even having been adapted into both a movie AND a teevee show back in the day.  Telling stories based around Norwegian immigrants the Hanson Family…

No, the other one.

…and told by eldest daughter Katrin (Sheila Galbraith), MAMA spins a very warm and fuzzy story indeed of familial affection and tribulations through a wide cast of characters.  From a trio of meddling aunts to gentleman boarder Mr.Hyde, to imperious family elder Uncle Chris, but at the heart of it all is the Hanson clan themselves…children Katrin, Christine, Nils and Dagmar, Papa and, of course, Mama.  They undergo hardship, heartache, loss, and even death, and yes, it’s a little cheesy at times, but that’s as it should be.  The good stuff is ALWAYS A little cheesy, to cynical eyes.  But I’m happy to report I got choked up more than a time or two during this performance.

There was a big cast, and I won’t list everyone here, but I will mention a few standouts to my eyes…I adored Kimberly Bateman’s cowering Aunt Trina, desperate to marry her equally meek Mr.Thorkelson (Tim Picotte).  Megan Damini’s sneering, no-nonsense Christine was a hoot, and I gotta shoutout to Will Lafrance (of ZASTROZZI fame, dontcha know) as number one son Nils.  Andre Dimitrijevic damn near steals the whole show as the bombastic Uncle Chris…almost.  But as much as folks like me talk about something or other being the ‘heart’ of a play, this is one of the rare instances where I think such a thing is as true as it gets.  And in this case, it’s Vanessa Cook’s portrayal of ‘Mama’ Marta Hanson, as thoroughly honest and consistent a performance as you could hope for, and she absolutely anchors the entire show around her touchingly earnest portrayal of a Mother so devoted to her family she makes June Cleaver look like Joan Crawford.

Of course, the REAL star of the show is Toby, no question.  Prix Rideau Awards, next stop…But you’ll have to head out to the Gladstone tomorrow (2 pm OR 730!) to check  out his amazing performance before it’s too  late!  Trust me, you’ll be glad ya did.  I still got the warm fuzzies from this show.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Marcel Pursued to the Carleton

In Theatre on November 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I went grocery shopping today.  Down Wellington way, where the posh kids hang out, because why not?  Aside from some sundries at the ill-named ‘superstore’…chow for Winston the cat, burger fixin’s, KD for emergencies…I also hit the big LCBO and stocked up on Stella Artois, and the special holiday Jameson’s package, with the commemorative flask.  Why the splurge?  As if you had to ask…tonite was the premiere of a new Chamber Theatre show, and I wasn’t going to be caught short!

When last we saw hometown heroes Chamber Theatre, they were bombarding the venerable Carleton Tavern with Donnie Laflamme’s latest opus, MECHANICSVILLE MONOLOGUES II (which has recently been published in book form, I do believe…just in time for X-Mas!).  This time, he and co-director Lisa Zanyk opted for a piece from another Canadian legend, Michel Tremblay, and his play MARCEL PURSUED BY THE HOUNDS.  Turns out Don put this show on for the very first Ottawa Fringe Festival way back in 1997, and thought it was so nice he’d do it twice!  Ottawa, you can start thanking Don right now, because I for one am sure glad he brought this one back.

And at a place that serves 50 in quarts, no less!

MARCEL tells the story of, as might be expected, Marcel (Matt Smith, positively nailing it), a high-strung Montreal kid on the run from mysterious demons in the night.  He ends up at the home of his bitter, drunk sister Therese (Manon Dumas, not only chewing up the scenery but kicking it in the balls and spitting in its Momma’s eye when she’s done).  All the while he’s watched over by a strange chorus of four Women/muses/Goddesses/whatever, whose counsel he took refuge in when he was little, and now he seems to need them more than ever.

The chorus is comprised of original OTS gangster Jodi Morden, Jessica Lafrance and Karen Charbonneau, and is commanded by the always amazing Annie Lefebvre (who is no less so in this show).  Aside from looking absolutely goddamn FABulous, the gals manage to mesmerize when they’re on, speaking in staccato snippets, and physically echoing the mental anguish of Marcel, who is bearing a dark secret he can’t hold much longer.  And Therese has a bombshell or two of her own.

Set in Tremblay’s beloved, decrepit, beer-soaked Montreal Main, MARCEL is classic Greek theatre given a French-Canadian tweak, and it’s great stuff.  Chamber Theatre brings it to vivid life in the Carleton (maybe the best setting this play could ASK for), with the able assistance of musician Robin Meyer McLeod, who provides a wondrous cacophany of instrumental soundscapes that chill you to the bone.  Tremblay’s themes of innocence and revenge are rich fodder, and the Chamber gang does a fucking fantastic job dragging them kicking and screaming to the Carleton Tavern.  Halfway through this show, I already knew I would pay to see it again.

When the show ended, I had a nice little time afterwards finishing my large 50 in the company of Jen Vallance, Jodi Morden, Wayne C and TreeMan, before it was time for me to run home and start writing this thing before I passed out.  Now that’s done, and I’m off to cook up some of that emergency Kraft Dinner, finish watching VON RYAN’S EXPRESS, and slavishly watch the counter stats on the blog to see if you people are listening to me or not.  I hope so.  This one’s a DO NOT MISS, folks.  So there.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

 

Monday Foofarah! – Foofarah the Second

In Just me doing stuff on November 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm

It’s back!  The newest thing that’s all the rage with the hipsters and shakers, also known as that thing Kevin does on Mondays because he’s bored off his tits.  It’s episode deux of the MONDAY FOOFARAH here at the Visitorium, and you couldn’t be happier.  Why?  More on that soon.  First, to business!

LAST CHANCE TO SEE:   The challenging and amazing IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS from Evolution Theatre, at Arts Court until the 26th.  You know what chumps DON’T see?  IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS.  Don’t be a chump, chump.  See Andy, Cat, and the OTS kids blow your wee mind.  And ya know how I know these gangsters are the goods?  Because they chose the Dominion as their post-premiere drinking hole.  The kids are alright, yo.

FIRST CHANCE TO SEE:   Yes, a few premieres this week for your theatrical illumination.  Fantastic stuff’s like Chamber Theatre’s put-up of Michel Tremblays MARCEL PURSUED BY THE HOUNDS at the best theatre in town (the Carleton Tavern), that starts on Wednesday the 23rd.  Then there’s JACKIE at the NAC (Studio?  I forget just now), from the French Theatre gang, fromt he 22nd to 26th.

The Phoenix Players make their Gladstone debut with I REMEMBER MAMA from the 24th to 26th, and I’ll be there.   And the much anticipated remount of Fringe sleeper (zombie?) hit PLAYING DEAD shambles into Arts Court, in the dance studio space, from the 24th to 26th also.

And of course, another hotly anticipated premiere (today, in fact…), is the world premiere episode of DANGER 5!  Yeah, you know you’re excited…here’s what you’ve been waiting for:

You’re welcome.  Now, what else is going on..?  Oh, right…

AUDITIONIZING:  Aye, I had aNOTHer audition last nite, once again at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  This time it was for TRANSLATIONS.  While this time I did NOT get a callback (my streak  is over, folks), I had a fun time indeed.   Read for the part of Manus, and it feels better every time I get on a stage and do a read.  and this time, I got some laughs!  Where I WANTED people to laugh!  And honestly, it felt SO fucking cool, I just…look, I’m not saying I’m the shit or anything, far from it, but…I liked the reading I gave, it won over some of the assembled crowd and, frankly, I’m just a little bit proud of myself.  There, I said it.  Possibly for the first time ever.

Also, I TOTALLY hope Lawrence Aronovitch gets the part of Owen.  He owned that shit! (Owened it..?)  I want to see that show with him in it.  And possibly some muppets.  Why?   Because as Spray will tell you, folks…Everything’s Better With Muppets:

Oh yeah, there was that other thing that  happened today too, that I guess I should get around to blathering about before I get too drunk…

UNDERCURRENTS LAUNCH PARTY:  Oh, SNAP!!  It’s that time again, baby, and once again, I was there at the launch party, because people continue to confuse me with media (I’ll take it!).  And also, apparently, because they didn’t realize how viciously I would abuse a goddamned open bar!!  Free beer?  In wartime?  Chug-a-lug, Donna! (If you get those last two references, I may love you)  In my defense, I did tip.

But right, Pat Gauthier had some stuff to say amidst all the boozing and schmoozing, about the new lineup for the second annual Undercurrents Festival, in the studio space at the GCTC this coming February.  It sounds awesome, it’s an extra day, each of the six shows gets FIVE showings instead of four, and here are those six shows:

AND THEN IT HAPPENS  from Ottawa’s Two Little Birds.  Remember last year’s Undercurrents, and THE LAB?  THose nutjobs in white coats outside the theatre, making you write essays and build pelicans, and film documentaries and whatEVER it is they made us do?  Well, this is what they did it all for…this world premiere, collaborative, experimental piece of theatre art from Sarah Conn, Kiersten Hanly, Laura Astwood and Guy Marsan (and all 300 of us who participated in the Lab last year).  Can’t WAIT!

CARMEN AGUIRRE’S BLUE BOX from Nightswimming.  Written and performed by ‘fierce and funny’ Chilean revolutionary Carmen Aguirre, Blue Box (which I PRAY features a TARDIS) tells her pretty amazing sounding life story, with director Brian Quirt at the helm.

FALLING OPEN from Emergence Productions, and OH MY GOD FALLING OPEN IS COMING BACK YOU GUYS!!!  One of the most incredible experiences of this or any years Fringe Festival is returning to show a wider audience what killer theatre is all about.  Luna Allison (aided by director Lib Spry) is gonna CRUSH this festival.  I’m calling it.

HIGHWAY 63: THE FORT MAC SHOW from Architect Theatre.  Featuring Georgina Beaty, Brendan McMurtry-Howlett and Jonathon Seinen, H63 is a right proper slice of Canadiana from Fort MacMurray, Alberta, living life on the cusp of the Oil/Tar/Whatever sands project.  The promo trailer we got showed looked great, and made me nostalgic for the amazing CRUDE LOVE back in ’08.  I’m REALLY looking forward to this one.

LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE from MiCasa Theatre. You bet your sweet Bippy, Emily and Nick and their director, some guy, are back for the Undercurrentage, and no one could be happier than I.  It was stark, raving fantastic at the Fringe this year, and now apparently it’s even MORE amazing?  MiCasa Theatre is GREAT theatre, folks, and if you don’t see them, you’re a worse person for it.  For serious.  GO.

WEETUBE 5400 from Theatre Replacement outta Vancouver, and featuring James Long and Maiko Bae Yamamoto.  Pat Gauthier was over the moon about thes guys, and the show sounds killer…if I’ve got is sussed right, it’s a verbatim show using the comment threads of YouTube videos as the text…be ready to hear how much of an asshole you sound like, internet!  And thanks for the segue, Theatre Replacement, I DID have one more YouTube video I wanted to share this Foofarah.  Feel free to skip the comment threads (they are now offically potential show spoilers):

So, yeah…UNDERCURRENTS. It’s coming, and it’s gonna be awesome.  LOT of good stuff to look forward to in the near future…like maybe an Evolution Theatre one-woman show featuring Nancy Kenny (miss you), and directed by the maestro Andy Massingham?  Could it be?   We’ll have to see…after Andy directs the Ottawa Theatre School gangsters in his new show GREED, based (I do believe, correct me if I’m wrong here, Andy) on the work of mad genius Erich von Stroheim.  Ain’t the future bright, folks?
Right, I’m gonna sign off for this one, jazzed on the launch party vibes and the fact that so many cool people were saying SUCH nice things to me!  Like, REALLY nice!  Like I-don’t-deserve nice.   Sigh.  But I’ll take it.  Love you guys, honest and true.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

 

Love to the Rescue

In Evolution Theatre on November 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm

I’m feeling a little out of it these last few days…kind of a cyclical low point that I TOTALLY knew was coming, but it’s still knocking me for a loop, you know?  And as a result, I can’t for the life of me think of a snappy/cool intro for this post, so the Hell with it, let’s just dive on in!

But that’s just fine, because it’s Evolution Theatre‘s new show we’re talking about, and who doesn’t want to get to that as fast as possible?  Evolution is the bomb, plain and simple, and I was giddy as a midget to check out their first show of the season at their new home in Arts Court.Said show was Daniel Danis’ IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS, translated here by human Babelfish Linda Gaboriau, and directed by Evolution co-founder Chris Bedford.  Since Chris had the reins for LITTLE MARTYRS earlier this year, which is on my short list for fav’rit show this year, I was excited.  Add to that the likes of Andy Massingham and Catriona Leger along for the ride, AND the new graduating class of the Ottawa Theatre School filling the onstage ranks…that’s a good recipe right there, folks.

The set from Pierre Ducharme is a daunting structure, practically scraping the ceiling while giving off a LOST-esque vibe, like we’re somewhere the civilized world would rather forget about.  And from the darkness going on in the fictional island somewhere on the St.Lawrence, the civilized world just might have the right idea.

STONE DOGS follows several plot threads and a motley crew of protaganists:  Andy Massingham’s Pa Leo, a widower running a questionable kennel with his two sons…Charles (James McMarten Smith), an ex-con trying to set himself right, and Niki (Jonah Allingham), a naive waif hopelessly in love with neighbour Djoukie (Dyna Ibrahim).  But brainy, troubled Djoukie has her own worries, like her closed-off Mother Joelle (Caitlin Corbett), and Joelle’s closest friend, the vivacious but irresponsible Goddess (Cat Leger).  Goddess, meanwhile, can’t get enough of the libidinous Coyote (Andrew Moore), Joelle is being pursued by former soldier Simon (Mitchel Rose), and sweet young Mureille (Victoria Luloff) just wants to become a woman before she does herself in.  The whole thing plays out like the most twisted soap opera this side of TWIN PEAKS, and is overseen by an unearthly chorus of stone faced hounds (played by a variety of actors, but Adam Pierre and Jazmine Camapanle remain dogged-out throughout, and they’re positively hypnotic to watch…the physical training from wondrous Alix Sideris is in full evidence when they’re in canine charater).

Evolution’s mandate of boundary-pushing, challenging theatre continues unabated here, with some of the most sexually frank dialogue I’ve yet seen on an Ottawa stage, not to mention some of the most memorable imagery of the year.  From Stone Dogs to snake dances, the gang pulls off some nice work, especially considering the trippy, lyrical quality of the pull-no-punches script.  There are a few stumbles along the way, but some great performances as well.  Andy and Cat, as expected, are wonderful in their respective roles.  And I’m happy to report there’s a solid group forming at the OTS once again…the kids are all right (tho I won’t single anyone out…let’em all enjoy hearty kudos for jobs well done).

That obedience training REALLY paid off.

So basically, another rowdy, throat-grabber of a show from Evolution makes for a good damned nite out, and I’m glad I was there on opening night (for more reason than one).  I’m hoping Ottawa audiences will brave the charged subject matter and just go for this dynamite show…challenging theatre is GOOD theatre, dig.  I said it.   Peace, love and soul, Ottawa,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Monday Foofarah!

In Just me doing stuff on November 14, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Look at me, trying to write a post when I don’t have a show to write about!  I actually used to do that from time to time, but haven’t in ages.  Which is why I’m now looking to institute a little weekly funday here on the Chud, with the MONDAY FOOFARAH!  Because while theatres may be dark on Mondays, here at the Visitorium we’re wide awake, hopped up on goofballs and dear God we need something to do before we go out of our fucking minds.

First off, a little official business…

LAST CHANCE TO SEE:  Yup, this week marks the closing weeks for a few shows in town, like 730’s killer crowd-pleaser I DO NOT LIKE THEE, DR. FELL at the Gladstone, or the Kanata Players’ MAGGIE’S GETTING MARRIED at the Ron Maslin(I’m gonna try and head out to that on Thursday).  Plus my just-reviewed AND SLOWLY BEAUTY… at the NAC.

FIRST CHANCE TO SEE: A few debuts this week, with LES 3 EXILS DO CHRISTIAN E. showing at la Nouvelle Scene from the 16th to 19th.  And one of my most anticipated shows of the month, IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS, makes its premiere from Evolution Theatre this wednesday at Arts Court.  I sat in on the media call for this beauty a few days past, and it looks amazing.  Andy Massingham packs some hefty heat, the set looks like something they scavenged from the dark side of Gilligan’s Island, the new graduating class of the Ottawa Theatre School impressed VERY much in the scenes I saw, some cool maskwork going on all over the place, and Catriona Leger does, well, fairly naughty things with someone bearing more than a passing resemblance to a werewolf.  Come on, you fiends, it’s Evolution Theatre!  You know at the very least it ain’t gonna be boring.  I’ll be there on Wednesday, and I still have an extra ticket (ladies).

There’s my official-type media duties perkily dispensed with…now I should apologize, because I went and missed a few shows I really wanted to check out last week…namely MEPHISTO from Comedie de Deux Rives, POSSIBLE WORLDS from Unicorn Theatre, and the SANITAS Playback theatre show at OSSD.  Sorry, Brie, maybe next time!  In my defense, I did throw a dinner party this week for the terribly lovely ladies Nadine Thornhill and Natalie Joy Quesnel, and Nat’s beau Trevor…a good lad in my books).  I’m happy to say my Tiramisu was a hit.

I also shot my first ever film this weekend, a digital short written and directed by Ken ‘the God’ Godmere.  The film, pretty certainly titled ‘bur’, starred such superstars as Garret Quirk and Jen Vallance, and gets premiered as part of the Digi60 film festival this December.  I’ll have more details later, but be sure to see it if you want the chance to catch fleeting glimpses of me awkwardly pretending to pour drinks, and just generally getting in the way.  It’s a start!

On that whole ‘acting’ front, I should probably have mentioned or posted at some point that I had my second ever audition this month, this time at the Ottawa Little Theatre for LOST IN YONKERS.    I had a good time, feeling MUCH more comfortable than the panic-fest that was my COMPLEX NUMBERS audition this spring.   I even got a callback from director Chantal Plante, and had the opportunity to come back and briefly work with the two young lads she’d already cast, who impressed the hell outta me.  Sadly, I didn’t end up getting the part, but I got no regrets about the experience, and I just might be back this month for the tryouts for their NEXT show.  Time will tell…

IN OTHER NEWS:  I bought myself TOM JONES (1963) and THOR (a few months ago) on dvd today, because I was bored and capitalistic.  An apparently needed MORE dvd’s cluttering up my pad (Nadine can back me up on this).

Speaking of the Adorkable(tm) Nadine Thornhill, you should totally check out her latest blogpost on the awesome 70’s hi-concept porn flick ALICE IN WONDERLAND.  It’s a gooder.

Winston broke one of my favourite glasses the other day.  Or as I like to say at times like this, Nancy Kenny’s cat broke one of my favourite glasses the other day.

I’m trying like hell to find a cool youtube music video I stumbled across the other day, but can’t for the life of me remember what it was called.  In lieu of that, and in honour of the recent Toronto Sketchfest, here’s some PICNICFACE for you while I keep looking:

Oo!  I found it, I found it (and good thing, ’cause that PICNICFACE link isn’t really working very well)!  Here’s THE LIKE with HE’S NOT A BOY:

Let’s see, what else can I waste your time with…OH!  This time next week?  I’m likely to be either giddily euphoric, or HORRIBLY DEPRESSED!  I won’t say why, but I challenge you to guess which it ends up being.  Don’t say I’m not a fun host.

FRINGE NEWS:  Did you hear?  Fringe deadlines across the CAFF are rapidly approaching/already passing, which means it’s almost LOTTERY TIME!!!  Already in here in O-town thanks to the early bird slots are folks like Katherine Glover, Gentleman Jeff Culbert (both of whom I caught in Victoria this year), and the fine folk at Dead Unicorn Ink.   And this just in, Jem Rolls, Weeping Spoon and Elizabeth Blue have made it in to Montreal!  That’s a lot of coolness in just a few hundred miles radius, folks.  I’ll keep you posted.

Right, I seem to be running out of Foofarah, or maybe I just want to stop typing and go have something to eat, maybe watch CASTLE or something.  I thank you for your time, and for indulging me in a non-review kind of post (unless you didn’t even read this, then fuck you right to hell, you big meanie).   We’ll leave you with a preview of next week’s episode:

Peace, love and soul,

the Visitor (and Winston)

Beauty, Slowly (but worth it) at the NAC

In Theatre on November 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I was tired.  Holy Hell, was I tired yesterday.  And I didn’t even work!

Well, that’s maybe not true…I didn’t GO to work, not my usual 9 to 4 crushing grind of a day job.  Instead, this Saturday I headed somewhere else for, well…an acting gig.  Yes, I said it…a film shoot, no less, and my first ever.  And I don’t wanna say too much, because I’m sure there will be a post about all this (and this isn’t that post), but man, it was cool, it was fun…it was also hot, it got kinda long, and by the time I shlepped home at 5:30 or so, I was more beat than if I’d been slavin’ over a hot stove for ten hours.  I ate some leftover Shepherd’s Pie and sacked out on the couch, Winston the Cat stretching himself out on my contented belly.  I really, REALLY did not feel like going anywhere else that night.

But I had tickets!  At the NAC no less…dammit, I HAD to drag myself out of the homestead, despite my body’s urgings.  I think I nodded off a couple times on the bus ride downtown, praying that the show I was off to see was both exciting, and (oh, please, PLEASE….) short.  When I arrived at the Hallowed halls just off Elgin, Iwas a little distressed to see that the show in question was TWO HOURS long…with no intermission??  What were they trying to do to me?  And what was the show about…?

…a midlife crisis brought on by exposure to the works of Anton Chekhov?  Jesus Christ, are you TRYING to put me to sleep, NAC??  I’ll be snoring before the first hour’s up!  I was nervous, kids, I won’t deny it.  Happily, by about the five minute mark of AND SLOWLY BEAUTY… , I was wide awake.

The play from Quebecois writer and director Michel Nadeau (translated here by Maureen Labonte, and directed by Micheal Shamata, who did last season’s YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING) deals with a shlubby everyman, played winningly by Dennis Fitzgerald, who is stuck in a grind.  His job is wearing him and everyone else in the office down, his family ignores him, and outside of a few fleeting moments in his day, he seems to have little hope for the future.  Until he wins tickets in a raffle to a local production of Chekhov’s THREE SISTERS, and everything changes.

Fitzgerald is the only real constant in the show, along with the asymmetrical, multipurpose set that is a thing of absolute beauty.  The other players (Mary-Colin Chisholm, Caroline Gillis, Christian Murray, Thomas Olajide and Celine Stubel) transform themselves into the cast of thousands (or, well…dozens, at least, surely) who inhabit our hero’s world, from his family to workmates, to the irregulars at a local coffeeshop he comes to frequent and even the players in  the play-within-the-play.  All of the story proceeds in a lyrical, flowing fashion, fuelled by positively gorgeous tunes from composer Brooke Maxwell (I would LOVE a soundtrack album to this show, seriously), and…you know what?   I’m flabbergasted that no one in the program is listed as ‘choreographer’, because even though there’s technically no dancing..?  The whole piece IS a dance, swirling, spinning, and just joyously connecting (or not) each player with the other in a pretty damn mesmerizing two hours.  And for someone like me, the central theme of the transformative power of theatre is such a truth that to see it played out like this on stage was nothing less than a gift.

AND SLOWLY BEAUTY… is a rousing homerun of a play (although I’m not sure the 8 year old girl sitting next to me was QUITE as inspired by it as the rest of us were), and I’m not sure anything less than what it delivered could have kept me awake that evening (as it was, I was out as soon as I got in the door).  The NAC is on a good pace so far this season…heres hopig next month’s mjusical keeps the party going!  I’ll definitely be there…transformative power of theatre, after all.  I’m a sucker for that stuff.  Peace, love and soul, Ottawa,

The Visitor (and Winston)
PS:  If you dig this play, you should totally go check out its inspiration, THREE SISTERS, when the Ottawa U Drama Guild puts it up at Academic Hall in December from the 6th thru 10th.

the Blue Box from Missoula

In Theatre on November 13, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Has it been a slow week?   I don’t seem to have posted in a while, but then again, I haven’t had a spare minute in which TO post anything.  This month makes no God damned sense to me.  Aren’t there, like, fifty shows going on?  How have I only seen one in the last week??
And here I am, trying to write a quick few words ABOUT said show, even though for Ottawa purposes, it’s far too late, as they were in town for one night only (and the following day for a supercool-sounding creation workshop).  The folks in question were Donna Sellinger, Madeline Ffitch and Sarah Lowry, better known as The Missoula Oblangata, who brought us (via Miss Emily Pearlman) their show THE FATHER OF…no, wait.  THE TIME MOTION DAUGHTER OF…

Oh fine.  Hang on, I’ll go find the piece of paper.

…aaand, right.  It’s THE DAUGHTER OF THE FATHER OF TIME MOTION STUDY, because if you’re playing in a church basement, who needs a name that fits on a marquee?  As already name-dropped, Emily Pearlman of Ottawa’s own MiCasa Theatre had a major hand in bringing the Baltimore-based Oblangata to our shores, having lent her directorial skillz to putting the finishing touches on their show.  The MO gals have a very collaborative, DIY approach to their theatre, and once you see one of their shows boyoboy, they’re not kidding.  The set consisted of a mad blue cabinet…very odd that the show was hosted at the same venue as this Fringe’s LIVE FROM THE BELLY OF A WHALE, making St.Pauls THE space for blue cabinet-based Theatre in the province!

Third time’s the charm..?  Anybody?

And actually, this particular blue cabinet did indeed at times seem to be hella bigger on the inside…from its mysterious, handmade depths sprang enough storytelling material to fill about ten plays, but the gals contented themselves to a mere hour or so of mind-boggling entertainment.  The story revolved around a Bridge builder and his love, an efficiency expert who had mastered the 14 (or was it 18?  I kinda forget now) hand movements that somehow, magically lead to great things.  And then there was her Mother the explorer, who left her husband for a walrus, plus an overly charming robot, a hole in the ice (yes, that was a character), a pair of bioethicists offering poor advice at a conference, and of course, the bridge.  All of this led to questions of efficiency, love, and just why do bridges fall down?

The story really took a backseat to the storyTELLING, and in a big way.  The Missoula gals use every trick in the book to bring their ideas to life, and the things that popped out of that little blue box were just amazing.  From the puppet-penguin in the opening scene (who charmed the living shit out of me, I might add) to the lunchbox-laptop diorama, a half-dozen lights swinging and hanging anywhere they could manage …sometimes even being handed off to audience members to act as impromptu assistants.  The whole set looked like it was barely holding together, and could collapse at any moment, but she held true.  And heck, this thing wasn’t some stationary installment, it had miles on it.  This thing TRAVELLED (and the TARDIS similarities just keep piling up…)!

The show was just what I’d hoped it would be…charming, imaginative, emotional, beautiful (the final scene got me misty indeed, something I’m always thankful for).   It was more fun than so many shows I’ve seen with a hundred times its budget, and by golly, it just goes to show ya.  I was surely sore that I would have to miss that creation workshop they were holding the next day (my Fringe-mate Rich Hemphill went, and I’ll have to grill him for details next time I see him).  I wish the MO well on the rest of their tour, and if they cross your path, for flip’s sake, check them out!  This is some goodness, folks.

Oh, and there’s singing too.  I almost forgot.  That’s good too.  I’m rambling!  And I have another post to write tonite, so…great show, go see it, done.  Peace, lvoe and soul, Missoula,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Feeling TARAM

In Theatre on November 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm

A few days ago (the 3rd of November, to be relatively precise) I had the experience of catching TARAM at the lovely Nouvelle Scene Theatre, from Theatre du Trillium.  I made a hasty post here on the chud praising it in a vague and indistinct way, on account of I was running out the door and just didn’t have time to sit down and hash it out proper.  Well, the show run is well over by now, but I still wanted to get something concrete…or, as concrete as the internet allows…down for the record.  Because, damn, did that show leave an impression.

As I’ve mentioned twice or thrice by now in these electro-pages, my French skills are barely passable.  I had plenty of it in High School, but since then, like many of my peers I’ve let those precious linguistic skills atrophy into near-ruin.  Lately, as I’ve caught slightly more Franco-theatre here and there, I’ve felt those lost words creeping back into my head.  So I felt confident to head out to Trillium’s latest show, hoping I could catch enough to make sense of the goings-on.

Well, after seeing the show, I have to shamefacedly say not so much.  Part of it was because of some SERIOUS Quebec accents going on that gave my virgin ears fits, I tels ya.  Plus there was plenty of (intentional) ambient noise in the show, which killed what little comprehension I had.  So this will be an odd review, in that I honestly can’t tell you exactly what the Hell was even going ON in this work by Quebecois Slam-poet Marjolaine Beauchamp, and starring herself and Micheline Marin (along with onstage musical accompanists Pierre-Luc Clement and Olivier Fairfield).  But then I once heard that French theatre was felt, not understood.  So her’es hoping that’s true, and here’s my take!

Ladies, forgive me, this may not make much sense.

As I walked into the gorgeous, darkened  theatre at LNS, the players were already on stage, one of my fav’rit things ever.  Micheline sat on a limk crate at the back of the simple, square stage area, her back to us, taking greedy swigs of something in a clear bottle.  Marjolaine lay flat on her back at the front, head towards us, staring up at…something, anything.  Off to the sides, the musicians were at their own small stations, weaving what I will unashamedly refer to as Lynchian soundscapes as the audience took their seats.  The show hadn’t even started yet and it already had more mood and atmosphere than 90% of the English shows I’ve seen this year…director Pierre Simard impresses quickly, yo.

A television flickered on off to one side as the play began…and as I said, I really can’t explain exactly what it was about, except that it was a very human story, told in some of the most imaginative and beautiful ways I’ve ever seen on stage.    A scene at an AA meeting (or something like it) shifts quickly and pretty hilariously into a frozen camping trip in the great outdoors.  Video being shot by the actors onstage is projected right onto the stage itself from above, as it’s being shot.  A striptease scene turns from comedy to drama to horror and right back around to comedy so fast you hardly see it happen. Beer bottles turn into toys, Guillaume Houet’s killer lighting design plays every trick in the book on your brains, otherwordly sounds and straightforward guitar riffs sub as dialogue for those of us with a deaf French ear…am I getting across how dead cool an impression this show made?  And how horrible your life is if you missed it??

By the end, it felt as if something amazing had happened, even if it was just in the one simple life being shown on stage…in the end, I gleaned at least that much.  Well, that and the continuing realization that French theatre is something fuckin’ else, folks, and I really need to brush up.    Because as much as I’d like to say I don’t care that I couldn’t understand every word in this show, the truth is it’s kinda killing me.  If someone ever writes a translation, I’d love a copy.  In the meantime, I hope this rambling mess of words serves in some way to thank the Trillium gang for a great nite out.  Thumbs up from an ignorant anglo, for what that’s worth.   And I’ll be back next month for the next show at La Nouvelle Scene…practice makes parfait, oui?  Peace, Love and Soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Relax, Relate, Communicate

In Theatre on November 3, 2011 at 11:36 am

ANOTHER show at the Gladstone?  Already?  Wow, those cats are really moving right along these days!  Seems like just yesterday we were all waiting for the wrecking balls to start swinging and flatten the venerable old venue…and now here we are, at the third premiere in three months, and the future for this Little Italy theatre seems as bright as it’s been in years.  Here’s hoping, anyhow.

It was Seven Thirty Productions‘ turn in the rotation (teamed as they are in running the Gladstone Theatre with newcomers Plosive Productions), having started the revitalization of the space back in September with THE 39 STEPS.  They’re back again, still digging into comedic territory under the direction of Master Irishman John P.Kelly (this is his 20th show with 730, the company he formed in 2004, and kudos to him), with Bernard Farrell’s I DO NOT LIKE THEE, DOCTOR FELL.  Excited, I donned my by-now trademark red suspenders and pinstripe pants and headed on out, eager for some Irish goodness.

As my attendance at this show was kind of a last-minute thing, I was sadly dateless (hey, I have to let Nadine Thornhill spend SOME time with her family), but I made do with a little rubbernecking of the crowd (was that Kate Drummond I saw?  Seriously, I wanna know!) and small talk with the ICB (whose name is Ketra…I should be able to remember that…).  Amazingly, tho,  I wasn’t TOO early this time, and before long I made my way to my seat…then moved to a different seat when, in tried and true Gladstone style, someone had already decided they wanted to sit in my spot (this happens a surprising amount at the GS), and the show got underway.

DR.FELL is set in a run down room in an old building in Ireland, where a strange group therapy session is taking place.  Run by bubbly American Suzy (Kelly Rigole) and her beleaguered but good-natured whipping boy Paddy (Lawrence Evenchick, the group is a lampoon of every new-agey, touchy-feely sterotype about therapy you ever did hear.  Locking themselves in the room overnight to get in touch with…whatever, Suzy and her assembled misfits (including Tim Oberholzer as serial-sharer Roger, Richard Gelinas and Robin Guy as squabbling high-strung Peter and Maureen, and Kathi Langston as sad, dotty Rita) relax, relate and communicate…or at least, try to, with some very funny results.  It’s when strange and stuttering newcomer Joe (Stewart Matthews) starts to veer off the plot and genuinely freak people out that a little darkness invades the hilarity…actually, it gets REALLY dark for a few minutes there, only to be yanked back with a belly laugh or two in the nick of time.

Photo by Lois Seigel...many thanks!

FELL mines some pretty rich comic material, and could hardly have a more perfect cast to push things over the edge.   Richard Gelinas seems right at home as the blustering, jealous Peter, and Kathi Langston’s bright-eyed declarations about how her late husband was savaged by dogs is such a bizarre kind of funny I can’t describe it.Smooth Tim Oberholzer is great as motormouthed Roger, forever comparing favoured therapeutic techniques with the ‘family’.  And Kelly Rigole…well, Kelly on stage is always wunnerful, whether it’s THIS IS A RECORDING, THEY ALL DO IT, or that adorable thing in the library with the masks.  She gives a pitch-perfect and foolishly hilarious performance as Suzy, the bossy therapist who just wants you to communicate (except for when she doesn’t, then shut the hell UP!), and is worth the price of admission all by herself.   A happy thumbs up to Shana Mary Dorley’s costume work, and David Magladry’s authentic and cool set design.  I enjoyed just about every minute of the show…John P.Kelly, you keep ’em coming!

A little after-show schmoozing with live Irish tunes and the usual nibbles, and I’m calling this a great night.  I continue to have a lot of fun with the new Gladstone season…next up is Phoenix’s I REMEMBER MAMA, then Plosive’s stab at the radio play tradition with THE SHADOW.  Fine way to round out 2011, I say…and I’ll be there.  Hope you will to.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)