Team Visitorium 2012 – Kiersten’s Reviews!

Kiersten Hanly has been living under this alias for some 20 odd years. During this time she graduated from the University of Ottawa with Honour Specialization in Theatre. Recent performance credits include; Conversations with Stranger at the first ever SubDevision 2012, And Then It Happens at Undercurrents 2012 and The Lab, a performance installation at Wakefest 2011 and Undercurrents 2011. All works of collective creation by the budding theatre company Two Little Birds. Having two Ottawa Fringe Festival performances under her belt, the time has come to reveal the secret agent reviewer from within (insert false writing credits and awards here). NOTE: Also part of the no pants club.


MERCUTIO AND OPHELIA by Nicholas Amott (Fireflood Theatre)

I’ll start this show with a side note. On the hottest day of the year, I was unable to get a beer at the Oak, too slow. Damn you Royal Oak, I bite my tongue at you.

Moving on. The show opens with a cute prologue, much like that of Romeo and Juliet. The scene is now set. Unfortunately, the next bit of text was the only bit that was not clear to me. A man, unidentified, comes on stage in a frenzy, talking about a man who he cannot find. It didn’t make sense. In the end, I don’t think this character was necessary at all.

But then we meet Mercutio and Ophelia. He the tall, dark type and she, a ravishing beauty in white. She carried a sharp look and volcanic red hair, very unique and very appropriate. Both actors played their roles strongly, Mercutio, however maintained the same quality of performance the entire way through and for that, somewhat stole the show.

Daniella Granzotto and Brennan Richardson in MERCUTIO & OPHELIA

The story goes that these two ill fated meet in a bar. Ophelia has fled Denmark after the famous Nunnery scene with Hamlet (“get thee to a nunnery!”) and Mercutio has skipped town after the Capulets ball, where Romeo met Juliet. The two butt heads at first but after some serious conversation and some context into their pasts (provided by playwright Amott, not the Bard) the two fall madly deeply in love. Uh oh.

I won’t ruin it, but will this change the course of their destinies? Or is this a trap, leading them both to their untimely deaths?

A well rounded, cleverly written production. Plus, if you can pull a show off in the Royal Oak basement, kudos. Not to mention the possibility of beer is there… I just recommend showing up VERY early for it.


VERNUS SAYS SURPRISE! by Ken Godmere (Emanate Productions)

From the moment the music starts, the audience feels a beat that keeps their toes tapping.

We meet Vernus. An Elderly man who, right from the start, struggles with most daily tasks, his struggles so big and wide, he can’t get a single word in edgewise (until, at last, we hear him blissfully cheer “SURPRISE!”). Not because he isn’t capable, just no one will give him the time of day! He moves a little bit more slowly than most, fairly so being eighty-nine years old.

The show is made up of a beautifully constructed soundtrack, which used the resources of 19 voice actors – see if you can recognize a few, it’s the hip and happening in indie Ottawa theatre. Ken Godmere as Vernus manoeuvres through this recorded world with mime and clown work, like clockwork. The timing and skill it requires to be so accurate with each single moment, each syllable, each step, each breath, is vast and I can say, sans doute, that this is one of the most incredible performances by any one person I have ever seen. The quality is unparalleled in my experience with this style. The best part though was that using a very specific technique, Godmere created a situation for his character like no other.

Ken Godmere as Vernus

By far, the most incredible thing about this show was its ability to make the audience FEEL. I can honestly say I cared about what was going to happen to this man. I cried when he was hurt, I laughed and cheered with his successes, big or small. So did the entire audience – a full cheer from the crowd mid show.

This isn’t even counting his sold out house, first or second standing ovation and rocking reviews from the London fringe! Vernus Says Surprise is a story about our world, from the perspective of someone we don’t always consider. All I have to say now is, don’t miss it.


WOLVES > BOYS from May Can Theatre
Alpha. The first, the beginning. Beta. The second, the star that shines second most brightly.

This is the basic idea behind Wolves > Boys. Lawrence the beta comes to head with Isaac the alpha, facing an imperfect close knit long term friendship. Meeting in a graveyard where Lawrence seems uneasy, the audience is swiftly moved to a world where the two boys tell a story they know all  to well. The story is of a ghost wolf pack, one that seems close to both of their hearts. The stories they tell often parallel that of their own alpha/beta relationship, a struggle for power between male wolves.

The show plays out as episodic, the characters often introducing each new chapter, ex. “wolf story part 1” or “Isaac consoles Lawrence”. Some of these transitions could use more context and  some maybe aren’t necessary. Though the two make it work.

The chemistry between these two guys is undeniable. They’re charming, funny and just a little bit cheesy – in the best way, who else could pull off flashlight humour? Throughout the show they manage a number of uncomfortable, saddening and beautiful moments between them. Their humour is certainly particular – boyish, best put. For this reason, I imagine the show is not for everyone. That being said, anyone with a good sense of humour and imagination will enjoy the show. Once again a success from the two guys we know as MayCan Theatre!

Plays until Sunday June 24th
@ Studio Leonard Beaulne
MayCan Theatre
By Tony Adams and Cory Thibert


LATE NIGHT CABARET by various (Black Sheep Theatre)

Late Night Cabaret by Black Sheep Theatre is exactly that. A late night Cabaret playing daily throughout the Fringe at 11:15 (good show to catch if you miss your 11 o’clock!!) in the Arts Court courtroom. The show has a brilliant premise, different show every night showcasing Ottawa Fringe talents and a few extra acts. Keep that in mind folks – you can see the show every night and be entertained by dozens of different performers. The best part about the show is exposure. Many of the performances from the Friday June 15th show were out of town pieces, ones that I personally had not heard much about, but because of their performances in the Cabaret, I’d like to see each and every one of their shows. On that note, let’s talk about Fridays stellar lineup.

Upon entering there is DJ HELICASE filling the room with beats, ones that had the audience tapping their feet – always a good sign! Off to a good start. The show begins when our host for the evening Ray Besharah (Lonely Bear) steps on stage and charms us with some schoolboy dance moves before introducing the first act – GRIMPROV. If you’re from Ottawa you probably know these guys, Mike Kosowan, Joel Garrow and Drew McFadyen (Jordan Moffat was nowhere in sight). They are a talented group that performs all over the city. This particular piece had them playing cats and dogs and lions, all attempting to protect a chain smoking apple farmers apples. What more could one ask for? The highlight of this particular show though was DJ HELICASE. His intuition with the tunes was right on. When the guys quickly changed pace or direction, he was right on their coat tails keeping the music in step. As a duo, Grimprov and Helicase are unbeatable.

Next to take the stage was Katherine Glover (Dead Wrong), and boy did she managed to keep the energy up. She read us a selection of her poetry, which she dubbed ‘Excerpt from Penthouse Forum’. A salacious mismatch of dirty words cut and pasted. Next up: Ana of Pollux Dance’s Heterolettecual performed a beautiful dance piece, her body moved so gracefully across the stage and had a number of people in the audience close to tears – we were told this was a sad part of the show but that it is mainly and mostly a comedy. Many laughs to be had.

Our final act of the evening was Christopher Bange (The Fat Guy Show) who entertained us with a very well performed magical act. He managed to be funny and confident in his magic, while carrying a self-deprecating air, something which can become exhausting but not with Christophers performance. Each and every magic trick he performed went off without a hitch.  This guy has stage presence in the most bizarre way, I for one am intrigued and look forward to catching his show – about a fat waiter who wants to be a clown and has only one real friend, Neil Diamond.

To wrap things up – check out these shows and especially the Late Night Cabaret. It’s a showcase of many talents from all over the fringe and all over the city. Well done Blacksheep! I hope we see this one every year!  Also, check out Kevin’s reviews of some of these shows on the site here.


LEFTOVERS by Ryan Reed Mills.

Leftovers is a post apocalyptic dramedy that, while giving its audience a fresh perspective, is missing a well rounded finish. Three youths find themselves stranded in a Costmore Superstore (we know what they’re playing at there). They may very well be the last three people alive.

On stage right we meet Tom, beau to the logical of the three living characters, Alex. He is what makes things interesting. Tom is a zombie, conscious and aware of himself as he completes his transformation into flesh eating monster. Who wouldn’t want to pick this guys brain? (insert laugh track).

While Tom thinks only of finding a way to contact Alex, we see the three lost souls searching for themselves among the high shelves of Costmore. They suffer through peyote trips, pudding shortages, a rogue dictator and the secrets of life together, yet Nat, the hilarious stoner, Brody, the overbearing yet surprisingly comic dweeb and Alex, the straight edge but hopeless girl don’t find their end gracefully. Sometimes clever, often witty, this show is an hour of entertainment that lacks cohesion.

Play until Sunday June 24th
@ Studio Leonard Beaulne
A 20 Nothings Production
by Ryan Reed Mills

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