visitorium

Archive for February, 2014|Monthly archive page

Coming Up in March 2014

In Theatre on February 28, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Theatre Marches on!  See what I…oh, never mind.  Let’s just get a jump on what’s happening in March, starting witht he fact that there’s only the first of the month left to catch ENRON at the NAC Studio, and more importantly (for me) the TROIS (THREE) mini-festival at Arts Court Studio, featuring GRIMprov in the gloriously goofy START START ENERGY OFFICERS, May Can Theatre‘s harrowing WHAT ABOUT HORSES?, and Dead Unicorn Ink‘s ensemble dramedy ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY, co-featuring myself and the OTS Orphanage Players!  Come on out, enjoy 3 beers for 10 bucks, and watch 3 cool shows!!

Bobby Robert (back only), Aaron Lajeunesse, Victoria Luloff and Patrice Ann Forbes i THE ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY from Dead Unicorn Ink (photo by David Pasho).

Bobby Robert (back only), Aaron Lajeunesse, Victoria Luloff and Patrice Ann Forbes i THE ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY from Dead Unicorn Ink (photo by David Pasho).

Oh, and some other stuff is happening too…

UNDERBELLY at the Gladstone Theatre, from Black Sheep/Stars and Hearts.  An unmissable adventure into the mind of William Burroughs, courtesy of the amazing Jayson MacDonald!  Until the 8th.

Jayson McDonald in UNDERBELLY (photo by William Beddoe)

Jayson McDonald in UNDERBELLY (photo by William Beddoe)

HALF LIFE at the Ottawa Little Theatre. A meditation on memory from the kids at LOT.  Until the 8th.

JESUS EVEN LOVES A CRAZY HORNY FEMINIST at Arts Court. One woman fun from Jen Hayward, from the 3rd to 5th.

THE BALD SOPRANO at Academic Hall, from Unicorn Theatre.  Martin Glassford helms this piece’o’Ionesco over at Ottawa U.  From the 4th to 8th.

Bald Soprano

SPAMALOT at Centrepointe Theatre, from Orpheus Musical Society.  Bring out your dead!  From the 7th to 16th.

THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW at the Centrepointe Studio Theatre, from 9th Hour Theatre.  Some Narnia for young audiences from the 9th Hour gang! From the 12th to 16th.

JERK IT – MAY CAN DOES MASTURBATION STORIES at Arts Court Library.  Pretty much what the title says, folks…May Can Theatre gives us the dose of sleaze Ottawa needs.  The 13th only!

MUCH ADO ABOUT FECKIN’ PIRATES at the Gladstone Theatre, from Parry Riposte Productions.  Richard Gelinas and Margo Macdonald as clowning pirates, directed by AL Connors.  Seriously, there’s no good reason to miss this, people.  The 13th to 29th.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM at the Kailash Mital Theatre (Carleton U), from Sock’n’Buskin.  A Shakespearean capper to the Sockies’ 70th season!  From the 13th to 15th.

DANCING WITH RAGE at the GCTC.  Real life canuck superheroine Mary Walsh brings the pain.  From the 18th to April 6th.

BREAK BEFORE BEND at Centrepointe Theatre, from Edge Youth Productions.  18th to 19th, teen musical theatre at the ‘pointe.

FRANKENSTEIN at the Algonquin College Theatre.  It’s alive…and it’s directed by Zach Counsil! 19th to 23rd.

frankenstein

THE DUMB WAITER at the Avalon Studio, from Third Wall Theatre.  The 3rd Wall gang returns to the stage with some classic Pinter, in the intimate Avalon.  From the 21st to 30th.

MURDER IN NOIRVILLE at the Ron Maslin Playhouse, from Kanata Theatre.  Hardboiled fun out Kanata way, from the 25th to April 5th.

noirville

DRAMA AT INISH at the Ottawa Little Theatre, from Tara Players and OLT. Actors vs.Ireland!  From the 25th to April 12th.

A LA RECHERCHE DE ESCARGOTS/SEARCHING FOR SNAILS at Arts Court, from the Ottawa Stilt Union. I don’t even WANT to know details about this bilingual show…the imagination of the Stilters is always worth the wait.  From the 25th to 30th.

SEEDS at the NAC Theatre. More Canadian star power as Eric Peterson tackles Annabel Soutar’s tale of Man vs. Monsanto.  26th to 12th.

FAMILY IN A BOX at the Glebe Community Centre, from GNAG.  Multigenerational drama from the Glebe’s very own theatre gang!  From the 26th to 29th!

DEATH OF A SALESMAN at the Carleton Tavern, from Chamber Theatre.  You can’t keep a good salesman down!  Chamber’s new take on the Loman family hits the tavern from the 26th to April 5th.  And trust me, it’s gonna be worth the wait.

DoaS

THE OTTAWA THEATRE CHALLENGE on March 27th, at the NAC 4th Stage.  Combat, theatre style! So, expect some mimework.

     THEATRE FRANCAIS

CONFIDENCES TROP INTIMES at Theatre de L’Ile.  Ends on the 1st…dernier chance!

UN at the NAC Studio. 5th to 8th.

A TOI POUR TOUJOURS TA MARIE-LOU at Theatre de L’Ile.  Classic Michel Tremblay!   Starts the 19th!

MARIUS ET FANNY at Salle Odyssee.  the 21st and 22nd, part of Francofete!

LEO at Shenkman Studio, from Theatre la Catapulte and MIFO. The 21st and 22nd.

JEUX DE MASSACRE at Academic Hall, from Theate de la Licorne.  Ottawa U’s awesome French contigent comes out to play, from the 25th to 29th.

I’m missing a couple things here and there and will update shortly…stay tuned, and as always, drop me a line, here, on Facebook, or Twitter, if I’ve missed anything (which I totally have).  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

The Road to Acceptable Appearance

In Theatre on February 25, 2014 at 1:33 pm

About two months ago now, or close to it, the Ottawa Theatre School shut its doors forever, halfway through what was to be my inaugural year there.  Me, and a lot of fellow students, were left rather adrift and heartbroken and wondering what the Hell to do with our lives all of a sudden.  It was a bit of a dark time, to say the least…but brightened considerably by some of the amazing people in our theatre community who immediately reached out to us in different ways.  And this week, one of those ways finally sees the light of day (so to speak).

Not long after the news of the school’s closing broke, I and all my fellow students got a message from alumni and superstar Victoria Luloff, who was busy co-writing a brand new show with Patrice Forbes for local theatre toughs Dead Unicorn Ink (Playing Dead, Space Mystery…from Outer Space, Chesterfield, etc.).  Victoria immediately offered a spot in the play for any and all of the students who wanted in…whoever was available, they’d write us in and make it happen.  It was a stunning offer, and it buoyed this old heart of mine considerably just when it needed it most.  Before long, those of us who had the availability met up for a first read of what quickly turned into a cool and funny new script, complete with the usual DUI flair for visual theatrics.  This Thursday, we finally open, and I couldn’t be happier.

Bobby Robert (back only), Aaron Lajeunesse, Victoria Luloff and Patrice Ann Forbes i THE ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY from Dead Unicorn Ink (photo by David Pasho).

Bobby Robert (back only), Aaron Lajeunesse, Victoria Luloff and Patrice Ann Forbes i THE ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY from Dead Unicorn Ink (photo by David Pasho).

 

Bobby, myself, Nadine, Chelsea and Kathryn...the OTS Orphanage Players in ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY (all photos courtesy of David Pasho and ONSTAGE OTTAWA)

Bobby, myself, Nadine, Chelsea and Kathryn…the OTS Orphanage Players in ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY (all photos courtesy of David Pasho and ONSTAGE OTTAWA)

Part of the mini-festival TROIS at the Arts Court Studio, our show is THE ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY, written by Victoria and Patrice, directed by…well, I’m gonna say Sylvie Recoskie, with a few able assists from Tony Adams and Jeremy Piamonte and the technical wizardry of Ted Forbes, and starring Victoria, Patrice and Aaron Lajeunesse.  Joining the Unicorners on the stage will be five ready, willing and able survivors of the Ottawa Theatre School…Bobby Robert, Nadine Cayer Gonzalez, Chelsea Young, Kathryn Reeves, and Kevin Reid (who eagle-eyed readers will spot as me).  It’s a treat and a thrill to be sharing the stage with these folks…Tony referred to our show as ‘the OTS orphanage’, and I’m totally OK with that moniker.   This will be my first return to the stage since last Fringe’s TRAGICALL HISTORIE OF NICK WADE (AND OTHER FUCK-UPS), not counting some improv appearances right here in the studio at MY SUMMER CRUSH.  It’ll be really, really good to be back, and I think you’re gonna love what we’ve come up with.  It’s been a truly collaborative effort with some cool, creative people…y’all are gonna LOVE my fellow OTS gangsters, and I’m so happy Ottawa is finally gonna see some of them on a stage, strutting their stuffs.  And what’s the show, and the evening about?  Well, aside from being a great night of local, DIY theatre, we’ll be sharing the stage every night with local heroes GRIMPROV and MAY CAN THEATRE with all new stuff as well.  I’ll let the official press release speak for itself:

***************************************

Trois (Three) is an evening of great revelation, astounding theatre and cold beer. Dead Unicorn Ink, MayCan and Grimprov would like to invite you to enjoy some thrilling new works from each company.

Dead Unicorn Ink, in association with some of Ottawa Theatre Schools brilliant former students presents The Acceptable Appearance Theory, a new work by Victoria Luloff and Patrice-Ann Forbes. What if your whole life history was imprinted on your skin, for everyone to see? Would you wear it proudly or out of shame, search to eradicate every single scar? Ms. Cadence and her group of like-minded individuals have that power, and as much as Dana loves Mark, is she willing to give up her identity for him?

dui

Ottawa theatre sensation MayCan will be exploring a new work at Trois (Three), What About Horses. Magic and death laced with high time philosophy and grit to boot by Tony Adams and Cory Thibert. A MayCan Theatre original work. “Like Sounds from a Turtle Shell if anyone in that show had balls or any sensibility, or lack thereof.”

What About Horses

Grimprov presents: Start Start Energy Officers!
Sounds like a Power Rangers show… but its not (due to copyright issues)! Totally different. This show follows unsuspecting teens who have to save the world with super powers, coloured spandex and easily marketable mecha-bots. Come watch GRIMprov create another masterpiece without a script as the show is created in front of your very eyes! See these Terrible Transmuting Energy Officers kick some butt and save the world!

gprov

Doors and bar open at 7:30 shows start at 8;00pm.
Tickets: $20
Online: $18.00
Run time: 30min+30min+30min
Beer: $4 =1 or $10=3

trois

Hope you all come out to play with us…it’s gonna be a real fun time. 🙂  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, aka The Visitor, aka Daniel (and Winston)

And the Beat goes on

In Theatre on February 25, 2014 at 12:25 pm
Jayson McDonald in UNDERBELLY (photo by William Beddoe)

Jayson McDonald in UNDERBELLY (photo by William Beddoe)

This is a bit of a cheat.  I’m not going to be able to see this next show when it opens this week, as I will be in a show of my own *cough*ACCEPTABLE APPEARANCE THEORY at Arts Court Feb 27-Mar 1, part of TROIS*cough*, but I did catch it during its brief run in Ottawa around this time last year.  And now I’m reposting that review, because not enough of you mooks came out to brave the cold last year, and you’re GOING TO this time around.  Because UNDERBELLY by my theatrical inspiration Jayson McDonald (for serious…Jay Mac’s show BOAT LOAD was the one that convinced me I wanted to be a performer) is a show that needs to be seen and marvelled at, time and again.  It’ll be playing here in town at the Gladstone Theatre from Feb 25-MAr 8th, and I’ll likely get to catch it in its second week, which is a relief, because I’ve only seen it twice thus far and that is NOT ENOUGH.  Get with the program, people, take your car for a walk and ride the dog to work.  Enjoy the show.

*************
Originally posted January 2013

I’m probably going to finish most of the bottle of whiskey sitting next to me as I write this review, fair warning.  But then, that just feels to me like what you should do when writing about a show inspired by the life, times, words and legend of William S.Burroughs, the grumpy old man of Kerouac’s Beat Generation.  And when that show is UNDERBELLY from Stars and Hearts, aka Jayson McDonald, one of my personal Theatre heroes and the creator of incredible shows like BOAT LOAD and GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT…well, Hell son, I’ll drink to that.

UNDERBELLY is McDonald’s one-man show (directed by longtime collaborator Jeff Culbert, a theatrical force in his own right and no fooling) about the aforementioned beat-poet legend Burroughs, probably most famous these days for his novel NAKED LUNCH, among others.  Old man Burroughs was an eclectic thinker to say the least, a brilliant wordsmith, a refreshingly unrepentant junkie, and pretty much a hardcore nihlist.  So, this is not exactly GIANT INVISIBLE ROBOT II.  But that turns out to be a very good thing indeed.

Moving from scene to scene in slouched pose and crumpled suit, MacDonald leads us thru the fragments of fact and fiction that comprise his take on the Burroughs legend, including a seriously impressive bit in which the poet’s famous ‘cut-up’ technique is demonstrated both verbally AND visually…it looks about as simple as juggling live sharks, and Jay Mac pulls it off with style.  It’s a verbally heavy show, delivered in a patois that sounds eerily Hunter S.Thompson-esque to my ears, but it all works…MacDonald takes to the deft wordplay in his script like a duck to water, impressing consistently in increasingly oddball scenes about societal hypocrisy, police brutality, drug abuse and nuclear holocaust, among many others.  McDonald’s emulation of Burroughs’ style, and the beats in general, is flawless (Alan Moore could take a tip or two from him, having tried the same trick in his BLACK DOSSIER hardcover and not succeeding half as well), and pretty endlessly entertaining to listen to.

A few guest-stars feature into the show, including Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsburg, with beautifully staged shifts that take a nice twist on the traditional one-manner approach to multiple characters.  It’s an amazing, psychedelic show, with some pretty cool light and sound cues (from Culbert and McDonald themselves) that accentuate the closely controlled madness we’re witnessing, or what some folks call genius.  Close line to tread, really.  Thank Fuck we have our own mad genius Jayson McDonald to guide us through, and he does it in a performance you’ll remember for as long as you can remember things.  This is the best way I can think of to start the year, and there’s a seriously good chance I’ll be be back again tomorrow.  UNDERBELLY is good medicine, folks.  Take it, and see how it surprises you.  Because it WILL.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, aka The Visitor (and Winston)

The rise of N-RON!

In Theatre on February 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Woefully late on this review, and I suppose I’m pushing it if I try to use my post-Undercurrents fugue as an excuse.  I AM in rehearsal for a show these days, so that sort of works a little bit.  But for the most part I’m just lazy, so sorry about that, people whose show I’m about to review sorta later than I’d like!  It’s nothing personal, you were all just swell…a fact which I will now expand into a couple of paragraphs for everyone else’s reading pleasure.

It was…goddamn, last Thursday? What’s WRONG with me??  Shit.   But anyway, it was about a million years ago that I checked in at the National Arts Centre for the latest in their English Theatre studio series, ENRON by Lucy Prebble.  And while you might be forgiven for thinking this was the tale of mighty outer-space killer robot N-RON, the truth is even more terrifying, as the NAC gang have assembled their resident acting company to tackle the all-too-true story of corporate greed turned up to eleven.  We all know SOME of the story, but Prebble dives deep and satirically into the belly of the beast that was Enron, from its early days as an only sort-of evil oil conglomerate to its super-villain-esque ending as the bane of the US economy and the literal destroyer of lives.  And it was a helluva ride along the way.

Foolish Humans, you cannot destroy N-RON so easily...!

Foolish Humans, you cannot destroy N-RON so easily…!

Joel Tremblay plays Ken Lay, the infamous CEO of Enron as an easygoing country boy, looking for new blood to run his powerhouse company.  He passes over longtime aide Claudia Roe (Petrina Bromley) in favour of up and coming trading genius Jeffrey Skilling (Dmitry Chepovetsky), who has some…let’s call them ‘innovative’ ideas to take the company in new directions.  Skilling spearheads the idea of trading energy on the stock market, which skyrockets Enron’s already profitable stock to unheard of heights.  But while the rise is meteoric, it also has some tricky twists…such as the fact that, somehow, despite being technically worth billions, Enron doesn’t actually HAVE any cash…really, you’ll never see a better example of the utter illusory nature of financial markets than in this show.  To escape the jam, Skilling enlists slick Andy Fastow (Eric Davis) to create even more illusions, phantom companies called ‘raptors’ upon which to unload Enron’s secretly burgeoning debt.  It’s a skyscraper of cards rolling out of control down a steep hill on a skateboard, and the crash is both inevitable and horrific.  There’s lots to learn in this show, both about the downright insane methods Enron used to fix the markets in their favour, and the utter delusion of the masters behind the scenes.

Dmitri Chepovetsky anchors this show with a consistently strong and fierce performance as Jeffrey Skilling, never wavering in his utter belief in both the almighty dollar and his own staggering intellect…watching him fall, and still be completely unable to apologize to those whose lives he destroyed, is a thing of twisted beauty.  Petrina Bromley is a strong opposite number to him as the old-school Claudia Roe, and they clash wonderfully multiple times.  The rest of the ensemble (Christine Brubaker, David Coomber, Leah Doz, Sheldon Elter, Quancetia Hamilton, and Eliza-Jane Scott) fill out a variety of roles in this pretty epic production, from armies of lawyers and traders, to the Lehman Brothers, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a trio of hungry dinosaurs, because that’s just how damn cool this production IS.

Enron
This is straight up one of the best looking shows around…the design team of Brian Smith (set and costume), Michael Walton (Lighting), Matthew Skopyk (sound), all under the corral of director Ron Jenkins, deserve major kudos or what’s been accomplished here.  Choreographer Laura Krewski gets credit too, for several sweet dance numbers and onstage traffic direction that must have been a nightmare to coordinate.  The smart and funny script, detailing the ins and outs of a byzantine financial tragedy with massive repercussions still felt today, is as good as you’ve heard.  I hope y’all get a chance to check it out, I had a blast…it plays until March 1st at the NAC studio.  Don’t make N-Ron angry!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Undercurrents 2014 – MORRO AND JASP DO PUBERTY

In Undercurrents on February 16, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Undercurrents LOGO NEW 300dpi-01

Whew!  Two show reviews down today, after an epic triple bill at UNDERCURRENTS yesterday, only one left to go!  And after a hundred-pound breakfast at Bramasole to help myself recover from the opening week afterparty, I think I’m ready to tackle the final task of the day (before I have to hustle into show rehearsals of my own, that is).  And my only real problem with writing this last one up will be trying not to use all caps or filling entire paragraphs with exclamation points.  Because last night at 9 pm, Morro and Jasp returned to Ottawa…and I believe they may now literally own the place.

The much beloved clown duo (in ‘real life’ Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee), who had made smaller scale excursions into the capitol at the Canadian Comedy Awards and SubDevision, arrive here with their first full show run in town, MORRO AND JASP DO PUBERTY.   Their first ‘grown-up- show from, I think, 2009, this show does pretty much exactly what the title suggests, as the clown sisters wend their teenage way through raging hormones, petty squabbles, stupid boys, and a first time visit from their Aunt Flo.  Along the way there’s shouting, fighting, some seriously tough sisterly love and more onstage toilet time than I’ve yet had the joy of experiencing in live theatre.

Heather and Amy, aka MORRO AND JASP.

Heather and Amy, aka MORRO AND JASP.

Heather and Amy have their clownish alter-egos down pat, and the laughs they wrest from the audience with such ripe material as this come fast and furious, never really stopping from before the lights go up until after the final curtain.  But these clowns are no dummies…they know exactly where the beating heart of their story is, and before you know what’s happening they’ve gone and snuck in some genuine, bittersweet drama in the midst of a hilarious series of tampon jokes.  Looking back on it now that the laughter has subsided, I’d say this is one of the sweetest, and probably more honest looks back at that period (sorry) in a young gal’s life that you’re ever likely to see on a stage.  It just happens to be perpetrated by two brilliantly gifted clown performers, who if we’re any kind of lucky will keep on coming back to Ottawa to show us how its done.  Forever, please.  This is as funny and wonderful as theatre has any right to hope to get.

After the show it was time for the official opening week party, where I managed to fulfill my secret mission for this year’s festival, which was to meet Morro and Jasp in person (as in, sans makeup and bright red noses).  We did, we hugged, we danced a bit, and it was just damn lovely.  Also had the pleasure of a long chat with the show’s director Byron Laviolette, who is a gentleman and a scholar.  I’m happy to say Ottawa embraced this gang in magnificent style…that audience was, as superfan Richard Hemphill noted, maybe the most receptive audience we’ve ever been part of.  It was a glorious and epic way to finish off my first week of Undercurrents 2014, and you don’t want to miss a moment of it.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

PS: their cookbook (yes, they have a cookbook..!) EAT YOUR HEART OUT WITH MORRO AND JASP, is for sale along with other clown merch in the box office.  I’m getting mine, you should get yours.  Just sayin’.

 

Undercurrents 2014 – RIDERGIRL

In Undercurrents on February 16, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Undercurrents LOGO NEW 300dpi-01

More adventures in UNDERCURRENTS on a fine Saturday indeed!  Already did myself the very large favour of seeing Matt Miwa and Julie Tamiko Manning’s wonderful TASHME PROJECT, and now, after a spot of writing with miss Michelle, the sun was starting to go down, the tailgate party was getting underway, the jock jams started playing all throughout the Irving Greenberg, and beer and sausages were being readily consumed by theatre and football fans alike.  Yes, that’s right…it was game time.

I’d already had the pleasure of seeing Colleen Sutton’s delightful one woman show RIDERGIRL a couple of times in the past, and was more than happy to make it a triple play (sports pun!).  Drected by the great Jan Irwin, the play tells the engaging, occasionally awkward true story of Colleen’s journey from marching band prairie lass to Ottawa actress, with the ever present green and white shadow of those eternal underdogs (this year’s cup win notwithstanding), the Saskatchewan Rough Riders looming large over every moment.  Colleen is what you might call a fan, see…she loves her Riders like other people love their kids.  Amidst the ups and downs of her own life…failed relationships, career switches, and a steadily mounting avalanche of overdue bills…the joy she takes in those rare Rider wins are the one bright hope she clings to, and perhaps something any sports fan can relate to.  In fact, even us non-sporties all still likely have SOMEthing we follow and take hope in…in case anyone hasn’t noticed, I take a bit of an unhealthy interest in the world of theatre from time to time. 🙂

Colleen Sutton in RIDERGIRL.

Colleen Sutton in RIDERGIRL.

The lady Colleen is a dynamo on stage, and it’s hard to watch her and not become, if only for an hour, a bit of a Riders fan yourself.  Aside from herself, she brings a handful of other characters to life during the show, the highlight of which remains for me Sandra, her trash-talking mentor in the ways of Rider Nation.  Sandra is the source of lots of the plentiful laughs in this show, which help to nicely set us up for the darker moments that inevitably, and very beautifully fall.  All football trappings aside, RIDERGIRL at its heart is a story of a woman trying to find her way in the world on her own terms.  And heart is one thing this show is never, ever lacking.  Third time was indeed the charm for me, and you should probably get on this high-energy joyride of a show before its gone.  Go Riders!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Undercurrents 2014 – THE TASHME PROJECT

In Undercurrents on February 16, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Undercurrents LOGO NEW 300dpi-01

So yesterday was the most awesome day I’ve had in a while…but then, you might expect that from a triple-bill day at UNDERCURRENTS at the GCTC studio.  It was definitely worth booking the weekend off from the drudgery to start my festival viewing early this weekend, because it turns out I still had some goddam great theatre left to see.  Bumped into one of Ottawa’s most talented actors Michelle leBlanc, who had the same three show idea as me, and we became seat buddies for the rest of the day.  So, already a great day.

First show up was THE TASHME PROJECT: THE LIVING ARCHIVES, a verbatim piece from Matt Miwa and Julie Tamiko Manning.  For those not in the know, verbatim just refers to theatre whose text is culled from the real words of real people, often through interviews or the like.  I guess the most famous is THE LARAMIE PROJECT (and more recently in Ottawa, GRAIN OF SALT), and it’s a style of theatre that I deeply adore. This particular piece is centered on Tashme, an internment camp for BC Japanese-Canadians during WWII, and the stories Julie and Matt have gathered from its survivors and descendants.  The whole story of the camps and forced relocations is one of the more deeply shameful bits of Canadian heritage that don’t get mentioned much in polite conversation, so right away this is, to my mind, a damn important bit of work.  Using a beautiful and simple trick of structure, Matt and Julie embody what appear to be dozens of different persons, each retelling a different bit of the history of the Tashme generation, as well as the ones that followed.  Some are funny as Hell, some are just as bitter, many are revelatory.  And all of them are voices that have needed to be heard for a long, long time now.

tashme

Matt and Julie are top-notch in their performances, seamlessly moving from one character to the next and treating each with the utmost respect and pride.  Miwa, who once upon a time blew me away in Evolution Theatre’s great LITTLE MARTYRS, continues to impress here, most especially as a camp survivor railing against a racist history teacher.  And Manning is stellar, often coming back to one specific character who seems to act as a bit of a focal point/unofficial narrator for the whole sordid story.  I was always entertained during TASHME, and also learned a hell of a lot that I feel like I SHOULD have known a long time ago.   You’ll hear the words ‘haunting’ and ‘beautiful’ a lot when people talk about this show, and there’s good reason for that.  But do yourself a favour and find out for yourself.  As for me…well, I still had two shows to see.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

http://www.thetashmeproject.com/

Undercurrents 2014 – A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE

In Undercurrents on February 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Undercurrents LOGO NEW 300dpi-01

Another day, another crack at a new UNDERCURRENTS show at the GCTC studio.  The little Festival that could continues to put the Fun in February (trust me, there’s a fun in there, you just have to squint a bit) with the latest show to premiere in the lineup.

The brainchild of AnimalParts theatre, a joint Toronto/New York collective, A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE (or THIS IS NOT THE PLAY WE’VE WRITTEN) stars Anthony Johnston and Nathan Schwartz as themselves, recounting a bizarre, hilarious, kind of scary and amazing true story that began in 2004.  The duo, then-recent grads of Vancouver’s Studio 58 Conservatory, had themselves a goofy idea…they wrote a letter to a notorious ‘gay reform’ camp, asking for money to fund a new theatre project.  Just as a joke, of course, so imagine their surprise when the camp’s leader not only invites them in for a chat, but asks them to participate in 2 weeks worth of their therapy as part of the deal.  Anthony and Nathan, gay and straight best friends in real life, agree, adopting fake names and diving in headlong.  What happens is decidedly more than they bargained for.

Nathan Schwartz and Anthony Johnston in A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE.

Nathan Schwartz and Anthony Johnston in A QUIET SIP OF COFFEE.

Shows like COFFEE are why I love Undercurrents…where else besides Fringe would I get easy exposure to this kind of rule-breaking original Canadian theatre creation?  This was a joy of a show from beginning to end, even (or maybe especially) the bits of the play-within-a-play NEVER CRY WOLFMAN, the completely fake production they invented way back in ‘04 to get their feet in the camp’s doors.  But amid the moments of hilarity (which are many, many indeed) come some moments of unsettling honesty and pain, and thankfully Nathan and Anthony have more than enough talent and charm to pull off both extremes with style.  This is a perfect little gem of a show, laugh-til-you-cry funny and heartbreaking all at the same time.  Ottawa is lucky to be hosting these two talented cats, and I was lucky to get to see this great show (not to mention hanging out with the lads at the Carleton Tavern afterwards).  Put this one on your schedule, folks, it’s a can’t miss.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Undercurrents 2014 – CISEAUX

In Undercurrents on February 13, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Undercurrents LOGO NEW 300dpi-01

Told you I saw two shows last night…and now, after being tired last night and slow this morning, here comes my second check-in from this years UNDERCURRENTS, the little festival that Pat built.  The other show I caught was BROKEN, a heartfelt and awesome show that I talked about already.  For this post, we’re going into always amazing French Theatre territory, the first time Undercurrents has made the barrel-roll through the language barrier, and it’s about time, I say.

The show, which originated at the regular Carte Blanche series that takes place at l’espace Rene-Prevost across the river, was CISEAUX from Theatre Rouge Ecarlate.  The first work from an obviously cool new collective, Ciseaux was created by Lisa L’Heureux, and stars Lissa Leger and Marie-Eve Fontaine.  Leger plays Phanie, a young student who seems to rule her school with an iron fist, and takes an immediate dislike to crumby newcomer Olivia (Fontaine).  They clash, getting Olivia in trouble with her overbearing Grandmother, and prompting her to run away.  Which in where the trouble really starts.

Lissa Leger and Marie Eve Fontaine in CISEAUX.

Lissa Leger and Marie Eve Fontaine in CISEAUX.

Or rather, this is where the play finds the trouble, a it seems to be brewing in the form of a revolution/civil war all around, and both girls find themselves caught up in it in their own fashion…Olivia ends up joining a violent band of fighters called only ‘the boys’ after they mistake her short-cut self for a lad instead of a lass.  Phanie ends up being drafted into…a different type of service.  It gets a little dark folks, but very cool dark.  Leger and Fontaine are consistently engaging and high energy as their two very different characters, each fighting a completely different path that eventually leads them back to one another. The supercool set and props are used very effectively (loved the red scarves, and those amazing windows), as well as some killer lighting and sound effects.  And for any English speakers feeling left out, rejoice…the show features English language surtitles of all the dialogue on a projection overtop the set.  No one should have any trouble following along, and no one should even think about missing this one.

This is a solid, hardcore and gorgeously crafted show, with great performances and a punch to the gut ending. Congrats to L’Heureux for making this great show accessible to all…I hope everyone takes the opportunity to get themselves some killer theatre, and support French theatre in Ottawa while you’re at it.  You’ll be pretty happy you did.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Undercurrents 2014 – BROKEN

In Theatre, Undercurrents on February 13, 2014 at 8:41 am

Undercurrents LOGO NEW 300dpi-01

Whee, UNDERCURRENTS is here again, to make February seem a whole lot less bleak and cold, at least for a couple of glorious weeks, stuffed to the bursting with Theatre from all across this ridiculously spread-out nation of ours.  I’m just home from the second night of the 2014 festival (missed opening night due to rehearsals for my own upcoming show, which I THINK is a valid excuse), where I caught two great shows indeed.  I’m gonna post about the second one first, because it’s only in town for this first week of the fest and I want to get the word out on how wonderful it is toot sweet, you dig?  Don’t worry, the other review of the evening will follow soon.

The show in question is BROKEN, courtesy of Ramshackle Theatre, a gang based in the Yukon, earning them the title of farthest travelling Undercurrent artists to date.  A one-manner starring Brian Fidler, and directed by Maiko Bae Yamamoto (who was in the 2012 Undercurrents in the delightfully drunk WEETUBE 5400), this is, I kind of expect, the most intimate, honest and personal piece of theatre we’ll see at this year’s festival. A living love letter to the past, as told by William (Fidler) using a handful of objects that belonged to his grandfather.  His grandad, see, was a wartime photographer, mildly famed for one particular picture that became a Time magazine cover.  Back in the 1980′ s Granddad, at the age of 78, moved into the basement of the house owned by his son and his wife, and ten-year old William.  Young Will delights in listening to Grampa’s meticulously catalogued stories and watching his slideshows…Grampa’s methods of holding on to his memories even as they begin to slowly slip away from his mind.

Brian Fidler in BROKEN from Ramshackle Theatre.

Brian Fidler in BROKEN from Ramshackle Theatre.

Brian Fidler is a perfectly endearing and inviting storyteller, almost unassumingly drawing you in to the tale unfolding.  An old timey camera and tripod become characters in their own rights, and a hanging basement lightbulb metamorphoses into all manner of childhood memories.  BROKEN is a hauntingly beautiful look back at a disappearing past…the kind that didn’t get chronicled on Facebook, cellphones and HD images.  That’s not a dig at technology, I’m no luddite…but I remember slideshows, and boyoboy, this one took me back.  William’s happy recollections of his Grampa slowly begin to collide with less pleasant ones as the story goes on, and the importance of memory starts to really hit home.  Will even has a few tricks he uses to work his own mind out, to try and avoid Grampa’s fate.  I guess time will tell if they work out.  But in the meantime, I’ll have no trouble remembering this gem of a show, a beautiful and unique telling of an all-too common story.  See it (it plays this week ONLY at Undercurrents, and you’re a right dope if you miss it), and then take a moment or two to remember.  Something.  ANYthing.  Personally, I find myself with a sudden craving for Pop Shoppe Pop…which is good.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)