visitorium

Money and Masks

In Theatre on July 28, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Hey, I have a blog..!

Sorry, folks, that post-Fringe break turned into a doozy of a nap as I whiled away the bulk of July doing precious little but practicing my camping and questioning my fragile sanity (it still hasn’t answered). I have seen a handful of shows in the last few weeks, at least one of which I may yet write a little something about, but hadn’t actually donned my official ‘reviewer’ fedora since Ottawa Fringe last made all our lives worth living.

But who can resist tickets to the opening night of an Odyssey Theatre show? Clearly not me, so I gathered up my wee theatre classmate Kathryn and headed out to Strathcona Park for a little play under the stars action, this year presenting a new adaptation of Alain-Rene Lesage’s Turcaret, here titled THE FINANCIER. Using Odyssey’s trademark masks (in fact featuring more masked characters than I personally have yet seen in an Odyssey adventure, which was swell), the show follows a gold-digging Baroness (Chandel Gambles) as she attempts to swindle the gullible and lovestruck titular Financier M.Turcaret (Andy Massingham) out of as much of his considerable fortune as she can manage, all the while seeing a smooth-talking Knight (Attilla Clemen) on the side. All seems well and backstabby, although some wily servants played by Jesse Buck and Alanna Bales do their best to tilt affairs to their own advantage. And when Turcaret’s estranged Sister (Paulette Sinclair) and supposedly dead wife (Nichola Lawrence) show up, things go from sneaky to downright destructive before you can cash a credit note.

Odyssey-TheFinancier-poster-final-488x661

A play with no heroes or good guys, only villains of varying degrees of skill, THE FINANCIER is a merry time indeed, with a stellar cast put to great use by Director Laurie Steven (also the AD and founder of Odyssey itself, dontcha know). Chandel Gambles hits all the right notes, seducing while being seduced herself and struggling occasionally with fleeting glimpses of pesky morality. Andy Massingham wows as the tricky Turcaret, a seemingly love-addled simp who turns out to perhaps be the wiliest of the bunch…he’s just as dishonest as the rest of them, only he gets respected for it. John Doucet rounds out the cast as a variety of joyously slimy characters, popping up at opportune moments to stir the already sizzling pot. But a show like this about money and class inevitably gets ruled by the help, and we get some fantastic performances from Alanna Bales and Jesse ‘Bubkus’ Buck as the scheming servants who keep all the wheels turning throughout the action. The two of them are worth admission all on their lonesome. And I wasn’t kidding when I said ‘destructive’ up above…shit gets TRASHED in this play, and it’s a thing of beauty. The masks from Almut Ellinghaus are gorgeous as ever, as are James Lavoie’s stunning costumes.

This is ridiculous, indulgent fun and social satire at its brightest and zaniest, and pretty much a perfect night out if the weather is good. They even supply the bug spray! Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid

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