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Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Gladstone 2013/2014 – Launched!

In Theatre on May 27, 2013 at 8:38 am

Wow, the blog has been sleepy these days.  And it’s certainly not from lack of theatre…in the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen the amazing WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT by Nassim Soleimanpur three times (with actors Margo MacDonald, Kate Smith and Richard Gelinas), but I’d decided early on not to publicly review it, as it rather defies traditional review.  Not that my professional counterparts didn’t give it a go, but that’s just my personal call.  And if you missed it, you missed OUT.  Huge thanks to AL Connors and a Company of Fools for bringing this magical masterpiece to Ottawa.

But I gotta justify this paid domain name SOMEhow, so what else is there to talk about..?  Why, the newly announced 2013/2014 season at the Gladstone Theatre, natcherly!  The multifaceted gang that comprises the Gladstone collective have provided a pretty wide and varied mixed bag of shows for the new season, with 8 ‘main’ shows, and no fewer than 4 ‘extra’ shows, and it doesn’t stop there.  More theatre is good theatre, I always say, so let’s take a look at wat they’ve got in store from us!

PRIVATE LIVES by Noel Coward, September 20 to October 12.  From Plosive Productions and director Craig Walker.  Calling it ‘the second wittiest play in the English Language’ (after PEER GYNT, obviously), Plosive gets the new season underway with Boss Coward’s comedy of the manners.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE HANSOM CAB KILLER by Chris Bange, October 16-26.  From Black Sheep Theatre and director Dave Dawson.  A Fringe hit for Bange (last seen in Ottawa at 2012’s Fringe with THE FAT GUY SHOW), I’m very excited to catch this one.  And who doesn’t love Sherlock Holmes these days?

ETHAN CLAYMORE by Norm Foster, December 6-22.  From Same Day Theatre. Same Day returns after a great debut at the Gladstone with IN THE NEXT ROOM, with a slice of Foster for the Christmas Season.

DETROIT by Lisa D’Amour, January 17-February 1.  From Plosive Productions and director Chris Ralph.  A Canadian premiere of the Obie-award winning new play about economic uncertainty in urban America.  Sounds mighty cool.

AGE OF AROUSAL by Linda Griffiths, February 7-22.  From Bear and Company.  Sexiness 80’s style (1880’s, that is) from the prolific Linda Griffiths, as we go undercover at a school for secretaries.  Here’s hoping we don’t have an all-male cast for THIS one.

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UNDERBELLY by Jayson McDonald, February 26-March 8.  From Black Sheep Theatre and director Jeff Culbert.  Jayson Mac’s stunning one-manner returns from last year’s Black Box Series, and if you were dumb enough to miss it then, here’s your chance to smarten up!  A pretty incredible theatrical achievement.

MY BRILLIANT DIVORCE by Geraldine Aron, April 25-Ma 16.  From SevenThirty Productions and director John P.Kelly.  Phew, I was starting to WONDER when John P was gonna show up on this list!  And a one-woman show to boot?  Be still my heart!

“ART” by Yasmina Reza, May 23-June 8.   From Same Day Theatre.  Rounding out the main season, Same Day is back with a little something from GOD OF CARNAGE authour Reza about the nature of art, friendship, and all that jazz.

…But wait, there’s MORE!

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by HG Wells, adapted by Orson Welles, October 30-November 2.  From Plosive Productions and director Teri Loretto-Valentik.  The radio play returns, but takes a sharp turn to HalloweenTown, which delights me to pieces.  The classic collision of Welles and Wells gets brought to the stage and I canna wait.

HAL AND FALSTAFF by William Shakespeare, adapted by Margo MacDonald, September 3-7. From A Company of Fools and director Margo MacDonald.  The follow up to the Fools’ Torchlight Shakespeare Summer show, this mashup of all the best Henry and Falstaff bits by Margo Mac comes indoors for what is sure to be an unmissable run.

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HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, April 3-5.  From Vanity Project Productions.  An amazing underground musical sensation comes to the Gladstone, courtesy of the increasingly multitalented Smooth Tim Oberholzer.  Ottawa, I want to see you PACK THESE HOUSES.

MUCH ADO ABOUT FECKIN’ PIRATES! By Richard Gelinas and Margo MacDonald, March 13-29.  From Parry Riposte Productions.  Gelinas and Margo as wacky pirates, with AL Connors thrown in the mix?  There is no lose here.

And did you still want more?  Because the Phoenix Players are back again with a pair for their new season, including Shiri Hendryx’ THE LAST OF JANE AUSTEN (November 7-16) and THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK by F.Goodrich and A.Hackett (April 10-18).  Comedy and Tragedy, both masks get covered. So take your pick or catch’em both!

A pretty exhaustive and impressive lineup…tho I’ll admit it’s a lot of the ‘extra’ programming that excites me the most.  Mind you, DETROIT sounds ultracool, and I’m always thrilled to see Jayson McDonald and Chris Bange back (but will people pay full Gladstone prices for a Fringe show, awesome as they are..?).  Nevertheless, I’ll be there for every damn show you’d better believe, and am once again glad to see the Gladstone thriving and surviving (and more collective than ever)!  Catch you next season, gang, it should be a sweet ride.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

PS Don’t forget the Gladstone’s ONE NIGHT ONLY SERIES, going on every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night between June 20 and August 24!  Full show listing now available HERE! Make sure not to miss my man Jonah Allingham and SUMMER OF ‘34, plus so much more goodness that deserves another post all on it’s own!  Hmmmm…

Return to Caledonia

In Theatre on May 21, 2013 at 8:47 pm

How excited am I to be writing this review??

It was almost three years ago now that I first saw Melody Johnson’s wonderful MISS CALEDONIA, as part of my first ever theatrical road trip to the Summerworks Theatre festival.  Actually, I saw it twice at that festival because I fell in love with it so bad, and you better believe I let out a hoot of approval when Peter Hinton announced it as the closing show of his 2012/2013 season at the National Arts Centre.   And now, after waiting the whole season it was finally time for my third go at this little gem, and now I’m reminded of why I fell in love with it in the first place.

Written and performed by the amazing Melody Johnson, and based on the true story of her Mother, the show follows the life of Caledonian teen Peggy Ann Douglas in the 50’s.  Struggling to maintain interest in her simple farm life with her gruff Dad, ever-pleasant Mum, and no indoor plumbing, Peggy thinks she’s found a way out through the local beauty pageant circuit.  Nursing dreams of stardom like her heroes Debbie Reynolds and Bing Crosby, Peggy enlists her Mum’s help to train up for the coveted Miss Caledonia crown under the nose of disapproving Dad, not to mention outwitting a nosy puritanical lodger.  Melody is joined onstage throughout by fiddler Alison Porter, providing sweet and sassy musical accompaniment along her journey from farmgirl to would-be beauty queen.

It's official...between this show and SHE RULES WITH IRON STIX, baton twirling clearly makes damn good theatre.

It’s official…between this show and SHE RULES WITH IRON STIX, baton twirling clearly makes damn good theatre.

Sentimental but never sappy, and filled with clever dialogue that always rings true to its small-town roots, MISS CALEDONIA might actually be impossible not to like.  At least, I might not want to hang out with you if you managed to frown during this show.  Packed with memorable characters and beautiful, hilarious scenes (Peggy’s first and rather shaky attempt at beauty pageants is pretty unforgettable), but with plenty of genuine emotion that’s never too far from the surface.  I still got misty at Peggy’s story about Ginger, and you’ll just have to watch the show to find out what I’m talking about.  I can just about guarantee you’ll thank me.  Melody Johnson is a seriously skilled actor, and has enough charm to power any ten shows without breaking a sweat.  She and Alison Porter make a pretty terrific onstage combo, right up to the crowd-cheering pageant finale.  Will Peggy take the prize?  Do yourself a serious favour and find out.  Plays at the NAC Studio until the 25th, so get goin’! And Miss Johnson..?  It was a real treat seeing you again.  Come back to Ottawa ANY time.   Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

The Coming of the Electric Age (get it??)

In Theatre on May 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm

And here I’d thought the latest season at the Gladstone Theatre had ended.  Originally, of course, it was supposed to wrap up with Bear and Co.’s TAMING OF THE SHREW, until a most excellent thing happened.  The good folks at Same Day Theatre suggested a supercool team-up with Plosive and the Counterpoint Players, to bring one final pre-summer show to the Gladstone.  So with dynamite director Brownyn Steinberg at the helm, Sarah Ruhl’s IN THE NEXT ROOM (or THE VIBRATOR PLAY) is now upon us.  And that is a very good thing.

One of those, whatchamacallit, ‘controversial’ plays (if, you know, sex is a thing that frightens and appals you), Our show opens in the late 1800’s, the dawn of the electric age (this is important) in the home/workplace of kindly Doctor Givings (David Whiteley).  Doc Givings runs a practice out of his home, treating women for Hysteria, which he’s pretty sure is totally a thing that exists.  His current treatment of choice is a bulky, prototype monster vibrator which should clear up all that pesky fluid in your womb making you all kinds of female crazy.  And yes, this rather hilarious medical misstep actually happened, much to the delight of subsequent generations of ladies, and Sarah Ruhl makes astonishingly rich work of the premise.  The good Doctor, mostly ignoring his oddball wife Catherine (Sascha Cole, who I apparently missed in 2010 at Summerworks and more’s my pity because she’s freaking awesome), takes in a new patient, Sabrina Daldry (the ever wonderful Sarah Finn, in great form here).  Her husband Mr.Daldry (show producer David Frisch) has had it up to here with his wife’s ‘moods’ and ‘emotions’, and puts her in Doc Givings’ hands for some curing. But the unusual treatment, administered with the aid of stalwart but lonely nurse Annie (Michelle leBlanc…holy moley, what a cast…) Has a much more potent effect on Mrs.Daldry than she ever could have imagined.

Yeah, that thing might scare me at first, too.  (photo credit: Andrew Alexander)

Yeah, that thing might scare me at first, too. (photo credit: Andrew Alexander)

Meanwhile, Catherine is forced to hire a wet nurse (the great Dilys Ayafor) to feed her baby when she become unable to produce milk, and becomes somewhat distracted by the sudden appearance of a rare male client of her husbands, bohemian painter Leo Irving (Robin Toller, in yet another terrific performance).  There’s a lot going on in this show, often at the same time thanks to some nifty and perfectly timed split set action.  And yes, there is a fair amount of discreetly covered-up use of the device of the hour and its intimidating male-centric counterpart the ‘Chattanooga Vibrator’ that actually requires two operators, mostly played either for laughs or sweetness (but let’s face it, still pretty hot).  But it’s in the characters that this work really starts to transcend its potentially lascivious inspiration, as layers of repression are slowly stripped away to find the frightened and flawed personas beneath.  There’s a hilariously disturbing scene in which Sarah Finn’s character contentedly describes ‘relations’ with her husband…it comes off with all the charm of a prison rape, but it simply never occurs to her to expect anything more.  My heart broke a couple of times in rapid succession in the final act…Bronwyn Steinberg gets great performances out of some fantastic actors in a seriously smart show filled with laughter and tragedy.  Definitely a highlight of the Gladstone’s year, and I’ll be glad to see Same Day returning next season (more about that in another post).

This is just a gorgeous, skillful production and, like Mrs.Daldry, I’m finding myself eager to come back for another go.  Did I forget my gloves at the Gladstone..? Maybe I’d better go back and check, just to be sure.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Youth Infringement 2013 – Nine out of Ten (shows)!

In Theatre on May 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Finally managed another full, fun night of Youth Infringement this Thursday eve, after a few missed opportunities.  Gotta be honest, I feel like I’m letting you kids down this year with my ultra-tardiness on seeing and reviewing the shows, but thank heavens it doesn’t seem to matter very much…crowds were amazing for yesterday’s second-week lineup, nearly sold out from what I could see.    I helped myself to a second viewing of Tony Adams’ great NEBRASKA (I’m officially calling Kate Boone my awesomest discovery at this years festival, and can’t wait to see what she does next), and ate some tasty cupcakes (I believe baked by the lovely Lily Sutherland, junior Producer extraordinaire), and then a trio of new-to-me shows.  Here’s the rundown:

THE PRETENDERS
– from Writer John Ryan and Director Aidan Parchelo.  Going full-on and unabashedly meta from the get-go, this one centers on a pair of at-first unnamed characters (Shelby Fairbairn and Nick Nahwegahbow, both pretty darn impressive onstage) trying to figure out what sort of situation the playwright has landed them in.  As they try and decide if they’re in a murder mystery or a dreaded ‘modern’ play, they’re joined by a gardener (Johnathan Vien in fine scene-stealing mode) and a cop/dancer (Garret Brink in his second show of the festival), which does not make things any clearer.  A few kooky scene changes and sudden bursts of violence ensue, leading to a final act battle of wits with Hamlet (don’t ask) and treatise on the nature of free will.
While that last scene gets a little over-heavy and meta isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea, the show is still a good fun ride, with two strong lead performances buoyed nicely by solid support from Brink and Vien.  And anything that reminds me of Grant Morrison’s run on ANIMAL MAN can’t be a bad thing.

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IT’S WHAT DR.JENKINS WOULD HAVE WANTED
– from Writer Matt Hertendy and Director Jeremy Piamonte.  Hertendy’s second script of the festival (after BEARSNAKE) is another slightly psycho comic gem, starring a very hilarious Aaron Lajeunesse as the insufferable Dr.Smart, a psychiatrist apparently come to fill in for the mysteriously absent Jenkins of the title. Eccentric not even beginning to cover his therapeutic style, Smart rather quickly tests the nerves of his hardworking assistant Colleen (Lisa Johnston in a very strong performance), variously chloroforming, abusing and otherwise torturing his various patients (played by Jayson Thompson and Amanda Logan).  What secret does Doctor Smart hold, and why does his approach to psychotherapy have the best/worst acronym ever?  It’s a very funny ride as Colleen struggles to get to the truth, through hoboes, sex addicts, and occasional small arms fire.  Maybe the best laugh-out-loud romp at this years festival that I’ve seen.

EVERYBODY LIMBO!
– from Writer David Coleman and Director Brie MacFarlane. It’s Youth Infringement, so you know damn well there’ll be at least ONE play set in purgatory, and Coleman has not disappointed with this foray into the realm between. A trio of friends (Peter Knowlton, Rebecca Laviolette and Mike Connors) find themselves rather unexpectedly deceased and awaiting judgement in the nether world.  Their judge comes in the scenery-chewing form of Martin Glassford as Mephistopholes (or Metastopholes, depending on which line of the program you care to read…either works for me), a sort of cosmically powered game-show host, tasked with replaying the defining moments from your life to decide what happens to you next.  Glassford has a blast with the scope of his prankster character, his antics balancing nicely the darkness revealed in the harrowing moments he brings to light.  Limbo does tend to fall into the classic trap of so many supernatural-themed works…namely an overabundance of ‘Where are we’ and ‘Who are you’ and ‘You just don’t get it, do you’.  It kinda makes sense from a writerly point of view, but that doesn’t make the repetition any more fun to watch.  But as noted, there’s lots of other gooodness going on in this piece…Peter Knowlton delivers strong work as seemingly lily-pure Richard, and Rebecca Laviolette’s dance sequence with Glassford is worth the price of admission by itself.  And in the end, a nice bit of food for thought about just how important a single moment can be.

That MAY be it for me at this years festival…unless PERFECT PITCH makes it into the final three, that will get a repeat performance on Saturday night (the winner of that evening will go on to a slot at the Fringe Festival in June).  But in case this is it, a huge well-done to this years producer Christine Hecker, who made this one bigger and better than ever, and with great houses along the way.  Still sorry I’m missing both panel discussions, and I hope next year’s producer Lily Sutherland will consider keeping them, or something like them, around.  Also, one quick shoutout to all the Stage Managers of this festival, who never get the love they deserve.  Athena Green, Maggie Matian, Emily Grandy,Hailey Masterson, Kara-Lyne Weaver, Katherine Dermott, Tak Pham, Ryan Acheson, Rachel Worton and David Hania..?  Take a fuckin’ bow, you’ve earned it.  Thanks for another fun festival everybody, and if I don’t see you on Saturday, then I WILL see you next year.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Youth Infringement 2013 – Two more shows!

In Theatre on May 16, 2013 at 8:15 am

This is an unconscionably late update…should have had these last two added days ago, but I’m finding that the whole act of suddenly working at being IN a bit of theatre is…distracting.  good distracting, but still  got me a little discombob as far as thee writing of reviews goes.  Anyhow, apologies to these cool shows for my tardiness (as well as to the shows I’ve missed thus far…work and life got a bit uncooperative on me for a few days), and I promise to have at least three more writeups up tomorrow.   Keep up the good work, gang!  Anyway, the two I caught a few days ago were…

 

PRIDE AND JOY
– from Writer Kyle Cunningham, and Director Christian Alphonse.  Cunningham gave us not one but two supahcool shows in last years YI, HYDRANGEA and LONG DIVISION.  He seems to be three for three with this twisted suburban story of a young couple (Charlotte McLaren and Andrew Maloney) hosting an uncomfortable dinner party for an esteemed co-worker (Shawn Allen, who knows how to make an entrance).  After some trouble with the meatloaf, and haggling over a painting, things take a turn for the weird as Cunningham’s script gets a lovely tweaked treatment from director Alphonse.  Solid performances from all three leads in this one, and some innovative staging…loved the bit with the picture frame/kitchen.  It’s not always clear just what the Hell this show is really about under the surface, but I’m perfectly all right with that…draw your own conclusions, I say, that’s what the audience is for.  But I’m glad to see writer Cunningham is still going strong…looking forward to more outta him!

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FINAL SPARKLE ASCENSION
– from Writer Victor Armstrong, and Director Andrea Connell.  And now for something completely different…you know you’re in for something special as soon as you catch sight of the multicoloured anime wigs on the actors’ heads in this interesting coming-of-age tale, dressed up as live-action Sailor Moon fanfiction.  Not actually of course…our heroine Amy (Sarah Mercer) is a member of the ‘Sunshine Sparkle Legion’ or…was that it?  I didn’t write it down straightaway and now I forget.  But it was something luminous and cool like that.  Anyhow, she’s been tasked with occasionally transforming into a sparkly superhero and battling an army of monsters intent on destroying the world.  Which is all fine, until her somewhat self-obsessed Mum (Sarah Algozino) decides she can’t let her daughter fight the good fight alone (even if Dad just wants to stay home and eat cookies, in some terrific scene-stealing moments from Aaron Lajeunesse).  This is one of those wonderfully kooky shows that could ONLY go up at YI, and while the script starts to creak under its own weight after a while (one can only take Sailor Moon fanfic SO seriously, after all), I’m still pretty glad I caught it.  Like to see this one with some monster-puppets or something for the villains…talk to the Dead Unicorn Ink people!

 

Right, that’s all for this one…as I said, I should be seeing three more shows tonight (as long as nobody calls in sick to work this time…fingers crossed), and have the day off tomorrow for writin’.  So come on out tonight, and let’s see us some Infringiness!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Fire in the Factory

In Theatre on May 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm

A touch late with this one…a running theme with this blog lately, I know, but this time it wasn’t my fault!!  I was all set to do some afternoon writing yesterday, before a pleasant evening of YOUTH INFRINGEMENT, when I got the dreaded text from the drudgery.  Some damn fool of a cook went and gave himself food poisoning, which meant I got drafted to step in and help out.   And okay, okay, I’m going to be a poor student in a few months and could use all the stockpiled cash I could get, but I’m also a very spoiled theatre nerd and I get all grumpy when my goofy plans get all futzed up.  Grumble, grumble.  Now I’m gonna have to move Heaven and Earth to see all the shows, for the love of…

But I’m getting off topic, and I’m already late, so I’d better get cracking.  The show from a couple nights ago now was the latest from those subterranean SAW dwellers in the Red.Collective, with their new ensemble  production of THE TRIANGLE FACTORY FIRE PROJECT by Christopher Pielher (with Scott Alan Evans).  Partly verbatim from actual firsthand accounts, and I’m assuming partly created as well, this ‘project’ tells the terrible story of a factory fire in New York 1911.  Teeming with low-paid female immigrant workers (fresh off a mostly unsuccessful strike action), and equipped with about as many safety features as you might expect from a turn-of-the-century sweatshop, when fire breaks out the death toll is catastrophic, and swift.  The resulting fallout, however, take years to have its full impact felt.

The play is broken into two acts (with some sweet staging from director Emma Hooper Brooks, making great use of the seemingly limited SAW space).  Part one tells the tale of the fire itself and the event leading up to it.  A suffragette rally introduces us to factory worker Margaret Schwartz (Mina Delic), on whom considerable attention would later be paid.  The Triangle factory itself is owned by the decidedly imposing Blanck and Harris (Mike Showler and Dave Rowan), who lock doors and post guards to ensure no one even thinks about stealing a shirt here and there.  The result of these fairly illegal precautions is that, after a blaze sparks up, the trapped workers find themselves bottlenecked in an instant.  Following the horror through the eyes of the workers themselves (Jazmine Campanale, Tiffani Kenny, Alis Rainer, Katie King, Sonya Nagpal)and a reporter who acts as somewhat of a narrator (Dave Rowan again), we become witnesses as almost 150 girls are killed, either from the fire or by leaping to their deaths, inside half an hour.  It’s pretty nasty business, and the Reddies do good work with it.

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Part two deals with the trial that attempted to nail Blanck and Harris with the crime (zeroing in on the specific death of Margaret Schwartz), and feels a little tighter than act one. Opposing attorneys Dan DeMarbre and Jesse Palangio go back and forth, Palangio being especially good and slimy as he berates and harasses witnesses.  A long exchange between him and Margaret’s best friend is frustrating as Hell and wonderfully real.  Alex Brunjes and Alis Rainer also shine as Margaret’s grieving family.  There’s lots of good work from the gang in a pretty jam-packed piece, especially as they had to take on extra work at the last minute.  Good guy Will LaFrance was supposed to be in this show, but got sidetracked by scientific experimentation when he decided to see if he could stop a speeding car with his own body.  If any junior scientists are following along at home, the early result is NOT QUITE.  Get well soon, buddy!

TRIANGLE is a solid piece of important storytelling…a little lagging in some early parts, but worth the journey.  It plays until the 12th at the Saw Gallery, so give the Reddies some love!  Peace love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Youth Infringement 2013 – Four Shows in!

In Theatre on May 10, 2013 at 11:25 am

Well, you know it’s almost Fringe time again when its bratty little sibling YOUTH INFRINGEMENT starts causing trouble around town, ad as always I wouldn’t miss it.  This year is the 15th anniversary of the little festival that could, and this year’s producer Christine Hecker (with help from two assistant producers Lily Sutherland and Robin Thomas) has expanded the showdates and count for the occasion.  Featuring ten shows over two weeks, all by local theatre hoodlums 25 and under.  I’ve seen some lovely talent emerge at this festival in years past…Jenny David, Tess McManus, and a little theatre company by the name of May Can, among others.  Time to see what this year’s got to offer!  Here’s what I caught on opening night…

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A BATTLE OF DEMONS
-from Writer Euan Wheaton (of recent Sock’n’Buskin glory) and director Ryan Nadon.  DEMONS tells the merrily intense tale of a small-town Ontario clash of wills, as a hipsterific new librarian (Garret Brink) is transferred over, and immediately begins inflicting his big-city style lust for the sex books and the violence movies upon the populace, putting him into direct head-butting range with well-coiffed town elder MacArthur (Louis Alexandre Boulet), who makes John Lithgow’s character in FOOTLOOSE look like the president of the local Libertarian party.  And once Macarthur’s never-named son (Kainer Mazhar) begins to fall under that dirty hippie’s spell of video games and THE HANDMAID’S TALE, things escalate dramatically.  QUITE dramatically.   The only voice of reason is Mrs MacArthur (Kassandra Pick), who is hard-pressed to get a word in edgewise as husband and librarian begin a tug-of-war for parental rights between themselves.  The cast throws themselves headlong into the material which, okay, goes over the top pretty damn quick, but it makes for a very fun ride.  Will MacArthur burn that filthy library down, Geisha books and all?  Will  poor ‘boy’ ever get to just chill out and read himself some HARRY POTTER?  Come and see!

MOUNTAINS
– from Writer Maddie Stephens, and Director Alis Goddard.  One that hit a touch close to home for me, MOUNTAINS tells three separate tales of mental illness in a nicely staged and well done production…it even starts with a pretty sweet musical number by a lovely lady whose name I do not know yet to credit (little help here..?), and there’s even a lighting effect going on!  Over the course of the show we see Tessa (Leah Careless), struggling with an increasingly crippling OCD and a well-intentioned boyfriend Simon (Adrian Manicom); Chronic depressive single Dad Xavier (Arun Smith), unintentionally letting his daughter Eliza down despite himself; and Nora (Shannon Collins), a lawyer with some damaging body issues that are driving a wedge between her and wife Miriam (Robin Thomas).  It’s tough subject matter all around, occasionally a touch too on the nose (but how would you even avoid that?) but still powerful stuff, and not all the tales end happily.  Some performers to watch out for in this one.

NEBRASKA
-from Writer Tony Adams, and Director Matt Hertendy.  One of two plays in YI this year from the May Can lads, Tony’s play brings us the tale of Matt (Chris Jaworski), a twenty-something city boy with a particularly tricky problem to navigate.  Without spoiling too much, it involves two women (Kate Boone and Maddie Vezina), some potentially useless advice from brother Ryan (Mark MacDonald), and the inappropriate use of a telephone help line.   Along with some classic Canuck teevee lore woven in throughout. NEBRASKA does a good job looking at the perpetual boyhood of the modern male, and the havoc that can cause if left unattended.  Big laughs are balanced with some emotional gutpunches as the story progresses, and the cast carries it all off very well.  Special shoutout to Kate Boone, who does some hilarious double duty in the show, and Mark MacDonald for probably the best onstage entrance of the festival.

BEARSNAKE
– from Writer Matt Hertendy and Director Emma Clarke.  A whimsical piece indeed, set up as a mock Nature Show, with a curiously bitter host (Matthew Godin) as our narrator as he brings us in for a clinical survey of a pair of Newlyweds getting hopelessly lost in the desert.  Young and pretty dimwit (or is she..?) Kandi (Julia Allen) and her new husband, creaky retired professor Nigel (YI mainstay Jeremy Jones) seem very poorly suited indeed to ‘roughing it’, and when our somewhat sinister narrator introduces his specially bred pet (the titular Bearsnake, a scene-stealing Robin Thomas) into the mix, things go from bad to just flat-out ridiculous.  Plenty of laughs in this one, especially a knife fight that must be seen to be believed.  And I continue to be impressed with Julia Allen (dammit, Janet!), who plays dumb very smartly indeed.  A silly romp, and just what I needed to cap off a four-show night.

That’s it for now…I’m back at the Festival for more goodness tonight, including three more shows and a very cool sounding panel discussion with the likes of Pat Gauthier, Eric Coates and Kristina Watt!  Be there or be at another theatre seeing a show (WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT and TRIANGLE FACTORY FIRE PROJECT are literally playing in the same building right now, so Arts Courts is THE theatrical place to be this weekend).  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Le Danois Melancolique

In Theatre, Theatre Francais on May 5, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Always nice to find out about a cool-sounding production, even if it IS at kind of the last minute (seriously, I BEG you people…).  And a cool French production at that?  Shit yes, I’m in…as people may have noticed, I’m falling a bit shamefully behind on my posting these days, and could use something awesome to write about.

The awesome came at one of my fav’rit venues in the whole wide world, Studio Leonard-Beaulne on Ottawa U. campus, courtesy of Vanier-based company Theatre Tremplin in collaboration with Theatre la Catapulte.  Deciding that it was no longer acceptable to let Bear and Company have all the Shakespearean fun this week, the Tremplin gang got themselves a French translation of HAMLET, the bard’s angstiest bit, courtesy of Jean Marc Dalpé.    Making delightfully innovative use of the space and sparse staging, director Dillon Orr (recently doing wonderful things with Obviously A Theatre Company) sets the scene for a pretty damn killer evening of theatre.  And the best part is, English speakers can just waltz on in and not worry about missing any of the language…it is, after all, HAMLET.  I think you know the story.

hamlet

…And, since I just talked myself out of doing my usual ‘quick plot summary’ bit, I’m free to chat about other things.  Like the nice, low-key twist with several classic male roles being cast as women, and acknowledging it in the updated text to boot…Polonius, played by the terrific Jocelyne Lachance, is now Mother to two daughters, Laertes (a fierce Marie-Eve Fontaine) and Ophelia (the always wonderful Chloe Tremblay), instead of Father to a son and a daughter.  It’s no big, I say, and integrated into the show so smoothly you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t already familiar with the story (which, okay, you totally are, but you see where I’m going).  And otherwise, things proceed quite according to legend…our grim hero Hamlet (Antoine Cote-Legault, knocking it outta the park), aided and abetted by his best pal Horatio (Sylvain Sabatie) tortures himself working up the nerve to revenge himself upon his Father-killing Uncle Claudius (Jean-Phillipe Houle, a great presence on the stage…and Robert Lalonde is dandy too as the ghost of Hamlet’s Pa).  And his issues with his Mother Gertrude (Chantal Tokarsky in an impressive performance) run deep indeed, especially given her whole ‘married to the villain’ status.  Along the way there IS some levity…Jean Charbonneau and Guillaume Saindon have lots of fun as the travelling actors, while Eric Beevis and Alexandre Gauthier make a very merry Rosencrantz and Guildenstern indeed.  Add in some sweet lighting from Sophie Ducharme and opulent music from composer Venessa Lachance, and you’ve got a pretty stellar production That is so very worth your time to catch.  Did I mention cookies and coffee at intermission?  Because those were pretty fucking amazing cookies.

HAMLET is my third Shakespeare of the year so far, and it’s got a very good fighting chance at being my fav’rit come year-end.  Ottawa is a good town for some Bard, and it’s nice to see our Franco-buddies getting in on the fun.  More, I say!  The show runs until the 11th at SLB, 20 dollars at the door (or I think you can buy online in advance).  Do yerself a favour and give it a look.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in May 2013

In Theatre on May 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

Gadzooks, it’s May and festival season is gearing up!  Is that Fringe I see on the horizon..?  But first things first, as there’s plenty of goodness in May to get through first!

ENGLISH THEATRE

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW at the Gladstone Theatre, from Bear and Company.  Until the 4th!  Last chance to see a cool all-dude cast turn the tables on of Billy Shakes’ least feminist production.

A TASTE OF THE WILDCAT at the Museum of Civilization, part of Northern Scene.  Also until the 4th, a sweet-sounding bilingual recreation of a genuine Northern diner.  Check the site for times in French or English!

BIG MAMA! THE WILLIE MAE THORNTON STORY at the National Arts Centre.  Big brash blues bonanza that’ll get ya on your feet.  Until the 11th.

COME BLOW YOUR HORN at the Ottawa Little Theatre.   Also until the 11th, OLT does the 60’s and holy Hell, I haven’t seen this one yet!

JUSTICE at Arts Court Theatre, part of Northern Scene.  More SCENE goodness, from the 2nd to the 4th!

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FREUD’S LAST SESSION at various locations, from 9th Hour Theatre.  CS Lewis vs. Freud!  Come see the limited public performances of this touring show, check here for venues and times.

TULUGAK: INUIT RAVEN STORIES at the National Arts Centre Studio, part of Northern Scene.  Two performances on the 4th (which according the the NAC website are already sold out, so take heed), family friendly native tales with performers from Nunavut to Greenland.

SCI-FI DOUBLE FEATURE at the NAC 4th Stage, part of Northern Scene.  Ingenious live puppet performance from Ramshackle Productions!  Two performances on the 4th.

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WHITE RABBIT, RED RABBIT at the Arts Court Library, from a Company of Fools.  The Fools get serious with this groundbreaking play, featuring a new actor doing a cold read every night.  Check the schedule and pick your fav’rit performer to turn out for!  From the 7th to 25th.

THE BEST MAN at the GCTC.  The annual Lawyer Play for charity returns, so get on out to see some local bigwigs take their turn on the stage for a good cause, with some help from director Pat Gauthier.  From the 8th to 11th!

TRIANGLE FACTORY FIRE PROJECT at SAW Gallery, from Red.Collective.  More verbatim-style goodness from the Reddies, from the 9th to 12th.

A FLEA IN HER EAR at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, from Kanata Theatre.  A hearty farce to get your springtime underway.  From the 14th to 25th.

MISS CALEDONIA at the National Arts Centre Studio.  Melody Johnson charmed the shit out of me with this show at Summerworks, and you better believe I’m coming back for more.  From the 14th to 25th!

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IN THE NEXT ROOM (or THE VIBRATOR PLAY) at the Gladstone Theatre, from Same Day Theatre (with Plosive and Counterpoint).  Bronwyn Steinberg returns to direct this, the secret origin of the vibrator. You know you want it!  15th thru June 1st (preview 14th).

EMPTY SPACE FINALE at Glebe St. James United Church (650 Lyon Street South), from Third Wall.  A local touch for 3rd Wall’s final reading series of the season, spotlighting Ottawa Authours.  The 22nd only!

STEEL MAGNOLIAS at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  The 100th season continues!  Beauty parlor gossip  fun starting on the 28th.

CAROUSEL at Centrepointe Theatre, from Orpheus Musical Society. Starting on the 321st, Orpheus gives a classic a new spin.

And that’s not all…

The 15th Annual YOUTH INFRINGEMENT FESTIVAL is back, bigger than ever!  Producer Christine Hecker’s upped the show count and extended the run for this anniversary year, so there’s no excuses to not get out and see what the excitable, hopped-up rugrats of Ottawa Theatre have up their sleeves.  On the roster this year…THE PRETENDERS by John Ryan, FINAL SPARKLE ASCENSION by Victor Armstrong, A BATTLE OF DEMONS by Euan Wheaton, IT’S WHAT DR.JENKINS WOULD HAVE WANTED by Matt Hertendy, EVERYBODY LIMBO! By David Coleman, BEARSNAKE, also by Matt Hertendy (who’s just showing off now, honestly), NEBRASKA by Tony Adams, MOUNTAINS by Maddie Stephens, THE PERFECT PITCH by Cory Thibert, and PRIDE AND JOY by Kyle Cunningham.  All shows have three performances over the fest run, from the 8th to the 18th at Arts Court.  And one of’em is going to win a remount at Fringe in June!  Get on out and support the kids, eh? And speaking of kids…

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The OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL returns to Lebreton Flats from the 28th to June 2nd, with a sweet roster of family-friendly shows from all over, and amazing performers (including some homegrown heroes).  Shows include Mi Casa’s wonderful COUNTRIES SHAPED LIKE STARS, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (already programmed as part of  next year’s NAC season) from BC, GHOST AND LADDERS and EVOLUTION OF BBOYING from Quebec, A SONATINA from Denmark, and STEP AFRIKA! From the US of A.  Bring the little ones!

And don’t forget KLEO’S WAKE, part of the Ottawa Stilt Union Fundraiser on the 10th at the New Ediburgh Community Centre, 255 Mackay st.  Wake was one of the highlights of last years SubDevision, don’t miss this chance to catch it again (and other fun stuffs)!

Also, May 29 at 10 AM in Arts Court, get set for the official OTTAWA FRINGE FESTIVAL LAUNCH!!  Yes, the best time of the year is almost upon us…come on out and see what’s gonna be rocking your world in June!

*** THEATRE FRANCAIS ***

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HAMLET at Studio Leonard-Beaulne, from Theatre Tremplin, avec Theatre la Catapulte. A French translation of the bard’s most famous bit of angst, and I can’t hardly wait.  From the 1st to 11th.

IK ONKAR at Academic Hall, from Theatre la Catapulte.  One night only on the 4th!

LA NUIT JUST AVANT LES FORETS from NAC French Theatre, venue to be announced!  More great French Theatre, from the 14th to 18th.

LA PORTEUSE DE PAIN at Theatre de L’Ile.  Not sure yet what this one’s about to be hones,t but the Ile always puts on good stuff.  From the 15th thru next month.

L’ARCHE DE NOEMIE at Au Cafe Show.  Reprise of an amazing show presented recently at Ottawa U, from the 15th to 24th.  Facebook event page right here.

*** IMPROV ***

CRUSH IMPROV is back with ‘Bout Time on Monday the 6th, and this month they return to familiar ground at the Elmdale Tavern Oysterhouse!  I wonder if I can still bring in Hintonburger..?

More updates as I get showtimes, from good folks like MISSION IMPROVABLE (MI-6), GRIMPROV and CRYSTAL BASEMENT!

More to come and updates as I discover stuff, or you tell me about it!  See you out there this month, hey gang?  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)