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Archive for the ‘Undercurrents’ Category

Coming Up in February 2017

In Undercurrents on February 3, 2017 at 10:54 am

Sorry I’m late! Already 3 days into the month…that’s, like, half of February! Let’s get it started already!

COLONY OF UNREQUITED DREAMS at the NAC Theatre, until the Feb 11th. So many dreams they formed their own colony!

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEPEOPLE from Eddie May Mysteries, at the Velvet Room downtown every Saturday night. Superheroes and dinner, what more do ya need?

A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM from Taboo Productions, at Academic Hall until the 4th. An LGBTQ retelling of the Bard’s most fantastical outing. So get out there!

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AT HOME AT THE ZOO at the Carleton Tavern, from Chamber Theatre, from the 1st to the 11th. Albee’s Zoo story with its prequel Homelife get the Chamber treatment at Ottawa’s coolest theatre…order a quart and some wings and strap yourselves in!

SCHOOLHOUSE from Kanata Theatre, at the Ron Maslin Playhouse from the 7th to 18th. Will this Schoolhouse rock? Only one way to find out..!

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CRIMES OF THE HEART from Three Sisters, at the Gladstone the 8th to 18th. A gritty drama about the grizzled, veteran cops who tackle to toughest crimes of all…Heart Crimes! Probably.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD at the Ottawa Little Theatre, from the 15th to March 4th. Get a Little Harper Lee in yer February, people!

PHANTOM OF THE OPRY from Brett Kelly Entertainment, at the Gladstone Theatre from the 22nd to 25th.

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SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET from Suzart after Dark, at Centrepointe Theatre the 23rd to 25th. The brutal killer with the silly name is back!

UNDERCURRENTS at Arts Court, the 8th to 18th. Hosted by the Ottawa Fringe Festival, the mighty undercurrents festival is back with another sweet, sweet lineup (and also me). Check it out, and plan your month accordingly:

 

THE ELEPHANT GIRLS from Parry Riposte

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TOMORROW’S CHILD from Ghost River Theatre

UN-COUNTRIED from Theatre 4.669

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BROTHERHOOD: THE HIP-HOPERA from b current and Sebastien Heinz.

BURNT from Norah Paton

VOVK from Lana Kouchnir

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FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF DATING from Strange Visitations (that’s ME! And Jodi Morden and Madeleine Hall, too) Pay What you Can, PLEASE COME SEE OUR FUNNY LITTLE SHOW!!

– …plus the INDIGENOUS WALKS walking tours (bundle up!), New Play Tuesday, panel discussions, talkbacks, opening and closing night parties, and all the fun you can handle. Go go go!  Check out the full schedule HERE.

– THEATRE FRANCAIS

FUCKING CARL from Theatre du Trillium, at La Nouvelle Scene the 4th and 5th. Sold-out Fringe hit is back for a limited engagement!

LES PASSANTS from Theatre la Catapulte, at the GCTC from the 23rd to March 12th. A french show at the GCTC? Allons-Y!

– IMPROV AND OTHER STUFF

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CRUSH IMPROV continues their ‘Bout Time tournament thru February, at Mother McGintey’s. Check the calendar HERE!

GRIMPROV, you lads still good for some funny the 1st and last Wednesday of the month at the Cock’n’Lion? Here’s assuming!

THE IMPROV EMBASSY has their usual full roster of events, and their own calendar to boot. Check it out!

More to come!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin R

Undercurrents 2014 – MORRO AND JASP DO PUBERTY

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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)

UnderCurrents 2013: LITTLE ORANGE MAN

In GCTC, Theatre, Undercurrents on February 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm

So, how exactly does one review the same show for the fourth time?

I mean really, I think even the small-ish review I did about this show way back at the 2011 Victoria Fringe Festival was probably adequate (they even used a pull-quote from it on their recent posterage, to my giddy delight).  And when I wrote it up again after a second viewing in that fdestival, then AGAIN at last year’s Ottawa Fringe, I can’t recall if I had anything significant to add. You know, stunning new insights, layers of meaning revealed, etc.  So I might be stretching it a bit with a fourth go-round…though I hope it worth noting that I just happily saw this show for a fourth time.

Photos by the clearly wonderful Al Smith.

Photos by the clearly wonderful Al Smith.

This show is, I should also mention Snafu Dance Theatre’s LITTLE ORANGE MAN, starring Ingrid Hansen and directed (and co-created) by Kathleen Greenfield.  The story of a hyperactive young Danish girl nicknamed Kitt who is looking for a way to surf the dreamscape (she’s on a bit of a quest, see), it doesn’t take long into this one-of-a-kind show for the audience to see they’re in for something incredibly special.  Using multiple tools and styles, puppetry and shadows, song, and even some celery (actually, quite a lot), Kitt brings the audience along in her dream-experiments, a whimsical and magical experience with a heartbreakingly human payoff at the end.

I’m thrilled beyond the telling that Kath and Ingi have brought LOM back to Ottawa, AND that Kathleen herself has made the trip out from BC to help things along.  I met both these amazing ladies back at the Vic Fringe, and couldn’t be happier that I’ve been getting to spend some time with them both here in O-town.  I caught their supercool talkback session after the second performance, hosted by GCTC artistic director Eric Coates, which had some very informative tales on the origins of the show (formerly called GNOMEWARD BOUND).  We’ve shared a few drinks, done some dancing, and even caught an insane dance show together, about which I’ll talk at more length in the next Monday Foofarah.  They’re amazing and inspirational people, and meeting them and others like them has made this whole mad rush into the theatre world of the last few years utterly, perfectly worthwhile.  When people ask me to explain my love of theatre, I can sum it up in three words…Little Orange Man.

Al Smith!

Al Smith!

Sorry, I’d meant this post to go on at slightly more length, but I’m pressed for time.  Bus was late this afternoon, and I have to get back to the GCTC tonight for, if you can believe it, one more viewing of Little Orange Man (hey, they invited me..!).  Also, I have a dvd that Ingrid wants to borrow, and it’s always nice to give back a little.  I probably won’t get to see the ladies again before they finish their run and have to vacate our chilly town (LOM is playing next in both Montreal and Toronto), so I want one last chance to hug them farewell, and hope they make it back to Ottawa next Fringe, with the sequel show, KITT AND JANE.  I think that’d be swell.  And that’s it for my Undercurrents writeups, folks…back later with some sort of wrapup or other, if I can think of anything more to say.  In the meantime…Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

UnderCurrents 2013: LITTLE ILIAD

In GCTC, Theatre, Undercurrents on February 9, 2013 at 12:41 am

Got to try and hurry with this one, folks…it’s late-late, at least by my increasingly old man standards, and I have to work plenty early tomorrow AM.  Just had a late night snack in the form of mini-grilled cheese sandwiches I made from a loaf of Undercurrents bread, courtesy of the early show of BREAD tonight, for which I did my one and only volunteer duty of the festival.  And might I say that show is still a delight to watch, and I finally got to properly meet the adorable Karen Balcome, so the night was already a winner before I’d even gotten to either of my assigned shows…only two reviews left in the fest already!  How the undercurrents do fly…

But there were still shows to be seen and written about, which is why I’m home trying to do that instead of hanging out at the Oak with cool people (it’s okay, I just would have gotten quiet and awkward and it would have ended badly…this is for the best, people!).  First up, after my Bread-shift, was the much buzzed about LITTLE ILIAD, created by Evan Webber and Frank Cox-O’Connell.

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A starkly disarming piece of theatre indeed, ILIAD brings us along on a conversation between two old, distant friends…Evan, a performance artist, and Thom, who’s about to be deployed with the Armed Forces to Afghanistan.  They seem an almost ill-matched pair of friends, and the awkward tension in the air between them is palpable.  and when I say the air between them, it’s considerable…only Evan is actually present in the theatre space, while Thom is merely a projection onto a small clay figurine as the two of them share a Skype conversation.  It’s a twist that could easily just lapse into sheer gimmickry if the show weren’t so goddamned great.

Intrigued by a fragment of the Iliad he read, Thom (Frank Cox-O’Connell, who is maybe pre-recorded, or hiding backstage, or I don’t even KNOW what, and I don’t want to) contacts Evan after a long separation and they soon begin retelling the tale in question.  The story, about wounded warrior Philoctetes during the Trojan War, becomes a touchstone for Evan and Thom’s disconnect and an alarmingly on-the-nose meditation on the conflict Thom himself is about to ship out for.  An intimate and disturbingly honest show, the limited audience (about half the normal Undercurrents max) listens in to the conversation on headphones…eliminating any ambient noise and absolutely forcing you to pay attention.  The conversation is so real it’s seriously easy to forget you’re watching a play and not eavesdropping on strangers.  Some of the lighting is incredible too, with the little studio space creating amazing shadows to watch as the Iliad fragment gets acted out by Evan.  This is technology and theatre coming together for all the right reasons, folks, by a couple of cats so into their roles I STILL have trouble believing they were acting.

ILIAD is a short show, only about half an hour.  That, combined with its smaller audience numbers, is why it’s running two shows back to back for every performance.  So, you still have 8 more chances to see it, and you darn well should.  It’s something you’ve probably never seen before on a stage, and it should definitely get you thinking…maybe even arguing, if you’re lucky.  That’s it for me tonight, I gotta crash…I’ll be back soon as I can find the time, to write about the last show of the festival, which I’ve already written about three times before.  Next up: LITTLE ORANGE MAN!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

UnderCurrents 2013: HIP HOP SHAKESPEARE LIVE MUSIC VIDEOS

In GCTC, Theatre, Undercurrents on February 7, 2013 at 9:21 pm

It was a bit of a long wait in between shows on night number two of this year’s Undercurrents festival.  BREAD wasn’t playing this night, and I was running out of ideas.  I tried my hand at a bit of small talk with some of the cool kids, ran out material at about the five minute mark, then shambled awkwardly down the stairs to sit alone at a table and wait the hour out until the next show began.  I shoulda done like Langston, brought the laptop, and started writing up the first show then and there…crafty bugger took the cloakroom over and everything!  But that’s why he gets the big bucks, and I’m wearing the same outfit for, like, the third day in a row.  Sheesh.

After about an hour, the hour passed (funny how that works out) and it was time for the second, and last, show of night number two.  It was my first repeat viewing of the festival, since this is one of the two shows that were poached from last year’s Ottawa Fringe Festival, and rightly so.  Tonight, it was 411 Dramaturgy‘s HIP HOP SHAKESPEARE LIVE MUSIC VIDEOS, created by and starring Melanie Karin and David Benedict Brown.  One of those rare shows that’s almost exactly what the title sounds like it will be, HHSLMV is a cavalcade of one-after-the-other song parodies (or ‘Filksongs’ as we used to call them, back in my fanfiction days…but I digress), taking popular songs of the hippity-hoppity variety, and fusing them with some of Billy Shakes’ greatest hits.  The result is a pretty damn crowd-pleasing affair.

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photo of Mel’n’Dave by THE Andrew Alexander, yo.

Now, Mel and Dave may be white as mayonnaise (which explains their expansive Shakespeare knowledge, obviously), but they’ve clearly spent many an hour in the hip-hop world, and they can rattle off a rhyme with the best of them.  The duo prove quite quickly in their show that the wordplay of Shakespeare jibes just fine with that of several modern day rap masters.  Kanye, Tupac, Eminem, Notorious B.I.G and many more are represented in the show, and even though my own hip-hop knowledge is woefully inadequate, I liked the show even more the second time around.  The opener, their version of MacBeth set to…someone’s song (I’m sorry, I’m really quite clueless and dumb about a great deal of the world sometimes) is a goddamn marvel, and sets the bar high for the rest of the show.  The highlights to follow are many, from David’s crouching, preening Shylock from Merchant of Venice chanting ‘Gimme the Loot’, to Melanie’s proud Othello trying to decide if Desdemona is one of his 99 problems or not.  There’s some great stagework going on to match the vocals, and Mel and Dave work amazingly together (which may be one of the reasons they got married since the last time Ottawa saw this show).  Though I swear they cut out one of my fav’rit bits from the Titus Andronicus sequence from last year, which burns me a little, but I guess I’ll let it slide.  THIS time.  The rest was pretty damn cool, after all.

HHSLMV is great fun indeed…it may even give some of the audience a better understanding of some of the great works of Shakespeare, if you pay attention.   And for those who caught it at Fringe, there IS a new song in there, to tempt you back for another viewing.  The sound was noticeably better, I found, than at Fringe, the show is tighter, and the utter goofy thrill of it all is undeniable.  Weird Al would be proud, and Melanie and David should be too.  And now, I have to take a break before heading back for day three of Undercurrents…in which I have my first and only volunteer shift of the festival, and review the last remaining shows.  Next up: LITTLE ILIAD!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)