New Kids on the (theatrical) Block

So the more reg’lar readers of this Chud who know why I call it that sometimes) will have noticed that I’ve fallen off my pace of late in the posting department.  And truth be told, it isnt that there aren’t enough shows going on, it’s that a) I’m not seeing enough of them, and B) I’m sometimes not even writing about the ones that I DO see.  Yeah,that felt weird for me to type.  I guess my post-Fringe ennui really kicked me in the gut harder than I’d believed or something…also, I”m spending way, WAY too much time alone.  Which is great for finally catching up on MAN FROM ATLANTIS and OCEAN GIRL (somebody has to archive old water-based sci-fi teevee shows, folks, it’s not a problem that’s gonna take care of itself), but tends to let me forget why it is I started doing this thing, and why it’s important that I keep it going full steam ahead AT ALL TIMES.  I will attempt to rectify this, on the off-chance that anybody is still reading.

For starters, I saw a show tonight by a new theatre group in town…actually, I saw a show by a new group last week, too.  That one I didn’t write about at the time, on account of I caught it on the last night anyhow, but tonight I’m gonna pull a good old fashioned late-nite post and cover’em both.  Because quite frankly, they’re both more than worth it.

The show last week was J’TE RAPPELLE from Theatre Circonstanciel, at Studio Leonard Beaulne, one of my very fav’rit venues in the whole wide world.  Written by the new company’s general director Catherine Chiasson, and directed by their AD Charles Rose, the play (really an extended scene at just shy of 45 minutes) is about a young woman, Catherine (Alexe Lodin), grieving the loss of her beloved Grandma, or ‘Mamie’ (Marieve Gauvreau-Presseau).  In a neat twist, we get to see the grieving process from both sides, Catherine’s AND Mamie’s.  It was a beautifully staged show, with the usual inventive flair I’ve come to expect from Franco-Theatre.  Both performances were excellent, and Gauvreau-Presseau especially made Mamie one of the most instantly likeable and memorable characters I’ve caught onstage in a while.    The pair of them smoked herbal cigarettes like DeNiro in MIDNIGHT RUN through the entire show, and I hope their lungs survived the run unscathed.  I had a great, grand smile on my face laving the theatre that night, and I hope Ottawa gets another chance to see the Circonstanciel gang put up another show before too long.  Some serious talent is going on there, and it deserves to be seen.

Tonight’s show was a little off the beaten path, at Southminster United Church in old Ottawa South.  This bunch calls themselves Ouroboros Theatre, and for their debut they’ve gone in a more classic direction, by way of Oscar Wilde’s AN IDEAL HUSBAND.  At nearly three hours, Wilde’s densely verbose comedy of high society is a rather daring choice for a student premiere, but the gang pulled it off with panache.  The story centers around a scheming femme fatale, one Mrs. Chevely (Chany Singh, digging into her villainous role with admirable zeal), who tries to blackmail an upstanding member of Parliament (Christopher Hoeft as Robert Chiltern, doing strong work as the play’s straight man) into betraying his principles for her.  Caught in the mix are his adoring wife Gertrude (Siobhan Fleury, impressive throughout) and best friend and prize dandy Lord Arthur Goring (Jonas McLean, who makes a tremendously endearing fop indeed).  The verbal sparring gets very Wilde-ish throughout, and there ARE bobbles in the delivery on more than one occasion.  But the spirited ensemble, and especially director Jacob Millar’s cool decision to do the show in Mask (with a clever twist indeed which I won’t spoil for you), makes up for any such foibles.  And there are other good turns in the large cast.  Liam McGarry’s bombastic Lord Haversham has several wonderful scenes with McLean as Goring. Erin Crowell’s wonderfully dippy Mabel is a treat when on stage, and Dante Tolusso as servant Phipps nearly steals all of the second act with the best deadpan delivery this side of JEEVES AND WOOSTER.  Like I said, at three hours (in a church basement no less) it’s a bit of a trek, but I’m glad I  went, and I look forward to seeing these folks again on a stage, before too long.  You’ve still got two chances to catch it yourself, it plays until Saturday night.

There, that catches me up at least a LITTLE.  Ouroboros and Circonstanciel, thanks for the good times, and thanks for getting out there and fucking DOING it.  Don’t ever let anyone say ya didn’t.  And if you get out there and do it again, well…I’ll probably be there.  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

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