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).
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)