Team Visitorium 2012 – Fiona’s Reviews!

Fiona Currie is a member of Plosive Productions, part of the team running The Gladstone theatre. You won’t see her on stage, though, since she is a committed techie, working behind the scenes on things like websites, ticketing systems, social media and even helping to build sets. Over the years, Fiona has worked with several theatre companies around Ottawa doing stage management, sound design, props, graphic design and has even made jewellery and prosthetic body parts. By day, Fiona is a Broadcast and New Media Specialist at Parks Canada. She also worked for close to a decade at the Canadian Museum of Nature. She can identify nearly as many dinosaurs as a three-year-old; she can sometimes find her desk surface under all the cables; and she has stood on the closest point of land to the North Pole.



You may have already seen Melanie Gall in “More Power to Your Knitting, Nell!” and fallen in love with her powerful voice. You may also have swooned over Bremner Duthie’s sultry tones in “Hard Times!” or in “‘33, a Kabarett” at The Gladstone a few months ago. Well, this is your chance to enjoy them both on stage at once. Gall and Duthie share some of their favorite songs from the repertoires of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel in this musical performance. The atmosphere is relaxed, with the performers chatting and sharing stories between songs. We learn some fun tidbits about the lives of Piaf, Brel and of Gall and Duthie as well, but mostly this is simply a lovely hour of music with two enormously talented musicians.


THE SUICIDE by Nikolai Erdman (Ottawa Theatre School)
Ottawa Theatre School brings us the story of Semyon Semyonovich Potznikalnikov (gezundheit) who finds himself unemployed and depressed that he is unable to provide for his wife and mother-in-law. Most of all, he’d just like to eat his fill of liverwurst without feeling guilty that his wife’s salary paid for it. That and to learn to play the tuba–a surefire ticket to fortune. But when his friends and family suspect he is contemplating suicide, he suddenly becomes the centre of attention of a wide variety of society’s movers and shakers who want to use his suicide for their own political ends.

Dyna Ibrahim, Victoria Luloff and Drew Moore in THE SUICIDE

Nikolai Erdman’s farcical script is darkly funny and the cast had the audience laughing throughout. The performances are perhaps a little uneven at times, but under Pierre Brault’s strong direction, the story holds together and the humour is sharp.
Be warned that this show runs 90 minutes.


WANDERLUST by Martin Dockery

Martin Dockery is a fantastic and hilarious storyteller and you will not possibly regret seeing this show. That’s really all you need to know. Okay, I guess I can earn my keep and give you all a bit more detail. In hi  mid-30s, Dockery has dropped everything (crappy job, non-committal relationship) to spend several months travelling around West Africa in
search of… something… anything really. The experiences he has are of the kind one can only find in those raw non-Disneyfied parts of the world where the difference between a great story and a horrible tragedy is very
fine indeed. Dockery’s style is enormously energetic and very funny. At times seemingly channeling Michael Richards, he drives the show like a freight train to its heartwarming conclusion. You will be glad you climbed aboard.


BREAKING RANK by Howard Petrick (Ausable Theatre)

In 1965, Howard Petrick received a notice of induction into the United States Army. Unwilling to break the law, but also opposed to the war, Petrick agreed to be inducted, but made it clear that he opposed the war and refused to provide personal information about himself.  Thus begins an amazing true life story in which Pfc. Petrick is threatened with court martial, convinces many of his fellow soldiers to oppose the war, is investigated by the FBI and even becomes the subject of a folk song. I have heard people referring to this as the Padre X of Fringe 2012 and I think the comparison is apt.

This is a tale of one man’s bravery in standing by his convictions against insurmountable odds, and it is amazing to have the actual Howard Petrick here performing all of the characters. For this reason alone, I am would call this a must-see show this year, but it is also a solid show overall, well-rehearsed and Petrick distinguishes the characters very well. It is a simple, chronological re-telling of the events without theatrical embellishments, but the story is engaging enough to engross the audience.


Dirk Darrow (Tim Motley) is a detective in the classic film noir style and there is a murder to be solved at Studio Leonard Beaulne. NCSSI stands for Not Completely Serious Supernatural Investigator. In other words, an illusionist who tells jokes. Expect audience participation, lots of groan-inducing puns and one-liners and some quite polished illusions. One of my favourite moments was a one-time event though–the snappy come-backs of Ian (the Tilley hat wearing Fringer we all know and love) who was brought up on stage to serve as a murder suspect and who happened to know that it’s cyanide and not strychnine that smells like almonds. Of course, like any good stand-up, Motley has an arsenal of retorts to deal with hecklers with class.

In this small venue, I wondered why Motley used a headset microphone, but given that this was the first performance here, it may just be a hold-over from larger venues.
The show sold out on its first performance, so you may want to line up early if you want to catch this.


THE ROOMMATE by Alan Bee (This is Not TV)

This is the story of a young man who stumbles into what may be every young man’s dream: a no-strings-attached sexual relationship with a hot Argentinian divorcee. But he soon discovers the ego-crushing downside when he starts to fall for her. No strings means a lover who comes and goes at will, dates other people and treats you as a convenient and disposable entertainment. This is billed as a true story and it has that authentic and unguarded feel of a performer working to exorcise his demons and the feelings are clearly still fresh.
Be warned that this BYOV (the Avant-Garde Bar) has a one-drink minimum.

IT IS WHAT IT IS by the Orleans Young Players theatre school.

The Orleans Young Players have put together two short plays of their own making, each exploring a story of young people trying to find their way in life and navigate the complexities of teenage friendship and romance. Bullying, lying, loss and even a case of mono feature in the plots.

As a show both created and performed by students, one can expect a certain amount of bumpy edges, but if you are willing to look past their lack of experience and polish, you will get a unique window into the teenage mind and perhaps a flashback to your own angst-ridden youth.  The first show had a stronger storyline, while the second was more loosely stitched together short texts and movement.


TRASHMAN’S DILEMMA by Bruce Gooch, Scruffy Theatre Productions.

Trashman’s Dilemma is set in a dystopian future, where three characters have found a brief refuge from the raging war and from the mind-reading satellites of “Corp.” The universe they paint is fascinating and darkly convincing–a world where uttering a single word could mean death and where dangerous and seductive spirits roam the Earth. We meet two soldiers: one an elite shock troop and the other a “disposable,” both equipped with brain implants that normally allow for telepathic communication, but which have malfunctioned, forcing them to “go verbal.” The third character is the strange inhabitant of their refuge, who has the power to appear and disappear with the snap of his fingers and who the soldiers suspect of dark and disturbing acts. And this is just scratching the surface of this bizarre world. There is much more I could add and even more that I missed.

Bruce Gooch’s script is dense and doesn’t spoon-feed the audience with the back story of this world, so I recommend going with an alert mind, ready to absorb it all. In fact you may find yourself wanting to see this show twice for this reason. I know I do. And it will no doubt also change with each performance because actors Eric Bleyendaal, Michael Adam Hogan and Andrei Preda trade roles each day. Hopefully the performances will be equally tightly rehearsed in every configuration.
I will add a modest gore warning on this show.



I must say that Fringe 2012 started off very strong for me with Heterollectual. First off, let me say that I am so glad to see companies doing dance performances at Fringe this year. I am in no way a connoisseur of  dance other than what I have absorbed as an audience member of a small number of shows and from the occasional guilty watching of So You Think You Can dance. But I am a fan and would like to see more dance in Ottawa, especially if it is of the calibre of Heterollectual.

The show explores the general theme of love, from crazy blissful infatuation, to obsessive  unrequited passion, to the horrible ache of a breakup. We are guided through these themes with snatches of recorded interviews with people talking about their past relationships. The recording quality was not always very good, but that’s a small quibble. This construct gave the show a clear theme without trying to force a plot–a perfect choice for this show that allowed the audience to simply sit back and enjoy each moment.
These are talented individuals and extremely hard-working dancers. They clearly have confidence in their skills and trust in their partners–the women frequently launching themselves into the air with full abandon. By the end of the show, the stage was literally stained with their sweat. I highly recommend this show.


  1. Hi Fiona! I totally forgot to respond to this back in June. Thanks so much for the stellar review, and I’m glad you loved the show. 🙂

    Next time don’t be afraid, I’m just some loser who likes making dance. =)

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