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Archive for December, 2013|Monthly archive page

Tub, Table and Sink

In Theatre on December 12, 2013 at 10:57 pm

So she didn’t even know it I’ll bet, but Miss Emily Pearlman recently gave me what will certainly be my bestest Birthday present this year, when she contacted me and invited me to be a guest at her new show with Mi Casa Theatre.  And okay, okay, I actually went on the day BEFORE my birthday, but trust me when I say I’ll still be thinking merrily and smiling about this show well into my next year.

Taking place at the lovely NECTAR Centre, tucked away in one of the nicer parts of New Edinburgh, the show that Emily wrote and directed (with a co-directing assist from Mado Manseau) is COLLAPSIBLE, described quite intriguingly in the program as an ‘intergenerational collective’.  And since when Mi Casa is involved, imagination is usually cranked to 11 anyways, I couldn’t hardly wait.  When I arrived at the centre, me and my fellow patrons were invited to either hang out in the main room, where we could get our dilemmas filed (can’t get your dilemma solved until its been filed, people!), or some friendly guides would bring us down to the secret lair, where we could check out some sweet inventions, look at a scale map of the valley (shaped most curiously like a Bundt cake pan), or experience first hand what it was like during the great flood.  Did I mention the flood?

In the hyper-surreal world of COLLAPSIBLE, the mountain valley in which the action takes place has been engulfed by flash flooding, and only the revered Great-Grandfather (a splendidly bearded Andy Massingham), living in his juice-filled home at the very peak, is safe.  The rest of the villagers make a regular pilgrimage up to his home, because only he has the power to make decisions in the valley, and he has strict rules concerning that process, you’d better believe.  Enter Tub and Table (Sarah McVie and Katie Swift), two women not seen since the first day of the flood.  They suddenly return, the subject of much myth and rumour, and carrying an object of indescribable importance.  They desperately need Grandfather to decide something for them, but first they have to convince the townspeople that they didn’t start the flood.   And that, my friends, is a long story…

Collapsible
Taking place in just about every nook and cranny of the little house that is the Nectar Centre and told with lights, models, and every trick in the book, this show is just about a minor miracle for even existing.  They say never work with kids, but MiCasa has gone ahead and worked with about a gajillion of them, and each one of them is such a wonderful natural actor that they put my student butt to shame.  At school, Andy Massingham often tells us we need to get in touch with our inner child, and watching them mastering the art of play in this show, it’s easy to see why.  The honesty they bring without even trying is such an amazing little gift, and I’ll list all the names in the program here even though I don’t think this entire gang appeared in tonight’s performance.  Still, huge shoutouts to Adrianna Tounkara, Alice Torrie, Cason Burke, Charlotte Legault, Clara White, Colby Burke, Danan Burke, Louisa Legault, Madeline Meechan, Sarah Schonfeld and Zoie Davis-Meyer.  Ya done good, and made the special show even more specialer.  The grown-ups are all right too…Professor Massingham is always a joy to watch at work/play, and Sarah McVie I haven’t caught since the hilarious PUBLIC SERVANT at Undercurrents.  Also so very delighted to see miz Katie Swift back under Emily’s direction (it happened last in Evolution Theatre’s HROSES and that was a wondrous thing)

Several of the kids act as our guides, shuttling patrons from one floor to the next (the group splits up and experiences different parts of the show at different times), either watching McVie and Swift telling their harrowing tale of survival, or gleaning the secret truths about Great-Grandfathers’ decision making process.  And really, I’m being as vague as I can about this show because you need to see it for yourself, and for a relatively short piece (around 80 minutes), there’s enough going on to fill any 3 plays.  It’s one to gush about, learn from, marvel at and revel in.  Stuff like this comes along once in a long, long while.  Ignore the cold strap on your skates, and head on over before it’s too late!!  Just a short hop from the Clocktower on Mckay, so no excuses.  And thanks for the present, Miss Emily (cake even!), I definitely owe you one.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Christmas with the Claymores

In Theatre on December 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Been feeling a bit under the weather this week…it’s like my body was very politely waiting for my school semester to end before beginning catastrophic systemwide failures.  So, thank you body, I guess, but I’m still all sniffly and what-not.  But what better time for an invigorating spot of theatre, I say, and so I headed on down to the comfy-cozy Gladstone Theatre last night for just that thing.

On the marquee for the evening was Norm Foster’s ETHAN CLAYMORE, a seasonal (read: Christmassy) bit of homespun dramedy being put up by Same Day Theatre and directed by the smashing John P.Kelly.  Starring smooth Tim Oberholzer as the titular Claymore, a lonely small town widower, quietly trying to manage his slowly failing egg farm all on his lonesome.  Enter busybody neighbour Douglas (the great Paul Rainville), who has decided that Ethan has mourned his wife for long enough now (and at 5 years, he has a point) and launches into an aggressive campaign to get the solitary egg man back in the game, as it were. And he’s already picked out the single young schoolteacher (Sarah Finn, hurray!) he plans to set Ethan up with, whether they like it or not.  There’s just the matter of grim tidings involving Ethan’s long-estranged older brother Martin (David Frisch)…and the complications from that are trickier to sort out than you might at first imagine…

Tim Oberholzer as Ethan and Sarah Finn as Teresa in ETHAN CLAYMORE.  Photo by Andrew Alexander.

Tim Oberholzer as Ethan and Sarah Finn as Teresa in ETHAN CLAYMORE. Photo by Andrew Alexander.

I can tend towards curmudgeonliness when it comes to holiday-themed fare, so I am delighted to report I had a big goofy smile plastered on my face within the opening minutes of this delightful show.  The cast is absolutely spot-on perfect, anchored by Tim Oberholzer as the quietly pained Ethan, weathering the various intrusions, welcome or otherwise, into his stripped down existence.  He plays off of each of his co-stars with equal charm and ease, though with actors of this calibre it must be a goddamn joy.  Rainville is wonderful as always as the boisterous Douglas, shouting advice and butting in whenever he can find an opening.  Sarah Finn should steal every available heart in the room as the earnest and awkward Teresa, and even an old grump like me was rooting for her and Ethan to get together already.  And David Frisch delivers a marvellous and needed infusion of snark into the works as Martin (and shoutouts also to young actors Nicholas Hutchison, Jeffrey Clement, Draeven McGowan and Alexander Lamarre who appear and understudy one another as younger flashback versions of Ethan and Martin, fleshing out key moments in their history).

Joltin’ John Kelly has put together a helluva show for the holidays (and nary an Irish accent to be heard..!), with just the right dose of seasonal schmaltz here and there.  One of the flashback effects started to wear a little thin from simple overuse, but that may have just been me…still the usual great work on light and sound from David Magladry and Steven Lafond, and Roy Hansen Robitschek’s set looked cozy enough to settle down in for the night.  This show is indeed a wonderful heartwarmer of a piece, with more laughs than you’re expecting, great performances all around, and a Christmas Tree worth waiting for. Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in December 2014

In Theatre on December 5, 2013 at 5:05 am

Okay, so I’m five days late with this…I was a student for a while there!  I’m discombobulated!  FORGIVE ME!!

CHRISTMAS BELLES at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  Because what’s Xmas without the OLT gang pitching in?  Until the 14th.

GOODNIGHT DESDEMONA, (GOOD MORNING JULIET) at the Great Canadian Theatre Company.  Shakespeare’s tragic heroines fight back! Until the 15th.

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JESUS MY BOY from the St.Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.  A show so great, they’ve left Prescott to bring it to YOU!  Starring SLSF bigwig Ian Farthing.  The 6th-8th at various locations in Chesterville and Ottawa, see website for details!

THE SOUND OF MUSIC at the National Arts Centre.  Singalong!  What else ya need to know?  Until December 3rd.

ETHAN CLAYMORE at the Gladstone Theatre, from Same Day Theatre. It’s a Norm Foster Christmas at the Gladstone!  Now until the 22nd.

COLLAPSIBLE at the New Edinburgh Centre, from Mi Casa Theatre. Emily Pearlman stays behind the scenes for this most anticipated MiCasa offering, directing (with Mado Manseau) an all-star cast!  From the 11th to 15th.

reasons
REASONS TO BE PRETTY at Club SAW, from Red.Collective.  Postponed but not gone, the Reddies take on Neil Labute is finally here, from the 5th to 8th!

A VERY LITTLE CHRISTMAS PLAY at Shenkman Centre (Richcraft Theatre) from Vintage Stock.  Directed by hardest working man in show business Nick Alain! From the 5th to 7th.

THE FOUR OF US at Arts Court Theatre, from Toronto New Theatre.  New play from Itamar Moses…discount for Fringers!  See Here for details.  18th to 20th.

YO, VIKINGS at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, from Kanata Theatre.  Musical fun for the kids (and grownups) from the 27th to 30th.

YOU’RE A DEAD MAN CHARLIE BROWN at Scarlett’s Dinner Theatre, from Eddie May Mysteries.  Blood and death, Peanuts style.  Running weekends through the month!

– THEATRE FRANCAIS

OSCAR at Theatre de L’Ile.  Getting raves over in Gatineau, head over while you have the chance  Until the 14th.

TA DOULEUR at the NAC Studio.  Dance and theatre together in an amazing looking show.  The 4th to 7th.

PORC-EPIC at Studio Leonard-Beaulne, from Theatre Belvedere.  From the 5th to 14th.

LE GRAND MECHANT LOUP at the NAC Studio.  The 14th and 15th.

– IMPROV

The CRUSH IMPROV lineup: Glen Gower, Brooke Cameron, Dan Lajoie, AL Connors and Tim Anderson.  Yay!

Pic by Andrew Alexander.

CRUSH IMPROV 6th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL at Academic Hall, from Crush Improv.  A celebration of all things Crush, with special guests and Crush alumni galore.  On the 6th!

the Second Life of Desdemona and Juliet

In GCTC, Theatre on December 4, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Hey!  A GCTC Review!  Sweet Jeebus, that’s been a while.  You’d have thunk I’d broken up with them, we used to be so tight!  What with doing the volunteer gig there for a few years, plus catching all the shows in reviewer mode as well.  It was becoming my second home for quite a while.  But then along came the Ottawa Theatre School, review time got a lot harder to find, volunteer time became imPOSSible to find, and here I am now, getting my first review of their new season working a whole 3 shows in!  Somewhat scandalous, and you are right to hate me for my sloth.  For the record, I quite seriously enjoyed he previous 2 shows, PROUD and YOU FANCY YOURSELF, even if I didn’t get around to writing about them (SO SORRY!!).

But third time’s the charm, and I’m finally getting back on that GCTC horse with their latest production, Ann-Marie MacDonald’s GOODNIGHT DESDEMONA, (GOOD MORNING JULIET).  A Canuck fav’rit, Annie Mac’s story follows bookish Constance Ledbelly (the always wonderful Margo MacDonald) who, after getting the only-metaphorical shaft from her boss Professor Night (Geoff McBride), decides to focus on her groundbreaking new theory about two of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, Othello and Romeo & Juliet.  Her theory?  That they aren’t tragedies at all, merely hastily adapted comedies that only need the addition of a helpful fool to change their dire outcomes.  As soon as you can say ‘special lighting effect’, Constance suddenly finds herself transported into Shakespeare-land, finding herself smack dab inside one of Othello’s crucial scenes (and yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking, but I’m sure Ann-Marie MacDonald was probably not even aware of that classic MAN FROM ATLANTIS episode ‘the Naked Montague’ where Mark Harris washes up inside Romeo & Juliet.)

It's even better than it sounds!

It’s even better than it sounds!

Like any good dimension traveller, Constance soon mucks up the flow, revealing Iago (Zach Counsil) for the villain he is before Othello (McBride again) can be pushed too far.  This earns her the endearment of Desdemona (Sascha Cole, chanelling Xena Warrior Princess in a robust performance indeed), which has its own perils.  She then moves on to R&J, where her attempts to keep the death toll down end up wreaking their own havoc on gender politics in fair Verona. Evading the sword of Tybalt and the advances of both Romeo (Counsil again) and Juliet (Pippa Leslie) keeps our Constance quite busy, especially as she continues her fervent search for her Fool at all costs.

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DESDEMONA/JULIET is a fun and somewhat fluffy tale with some sneaky insight lurking beneath the laffs, and director Ann Hodges gets plenty of great action out of a mighty cast indeed.  Margo delivers as stressed-out bookworm Constance, fighting and bluffing her way though a merrily fanfictionalized Shakespearean landscape.  McBride and Counsil, two of O-town’s most beloved boy actors, are grand in their multiple roles…I’ll leave it to wiser heads than my own to debate the white Othello conundrum…and out tragic (or comedic..?) Heroines Pippa Leslie and Sascha Cole positively rock as Juliet and Desdemona.  Shoutout too for a great set and very cool light and sound throughout.  This is a merry romp filled with endlessly clever dialogue and boffo performances, and very worth watching, but get your tickets fast!  Opening week was packed, and shows no signs of slowing down (lucky you, you have until the 15th!).  So get your Shakespeare on, with a nice Canadian twist.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)