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Posts Tagged ‘alexis scott’

It’s the Furnace, Ernest!

In Theatre on April 6, 2014 at 7:17 pm

I’d been excited about the debut production from Vacant House theatre since I heard of their forming, and for one glaring and personal reason. The co-founders, Karina Milech and Alexis Scott, were both graduates of the Ottawa Theatre School and good pals of mine, and of course my soft spot for my OTS alma mater is a poorly kept secret. So when I found out the two of them were forming a company and striking out on their own, I was over the moon. They chose for their first production THE ANGER IN ERNEST AND ERNESTINE by Leah Cherniak, Robert Morgan and Martha Ross, and vowed to stage it as a site-specific piece of theatre. I remember them searching high and low for a literal vacant house to use for the show, until they eventually settled on the unusual but intriguing choice of the basement of the Ottawa Backpackers Inn in the Byward Market. Okay, it turns out it’s sort of right next door TO the Backpackers, but they have two buildings at 403 York (near the corner of King Edward), plus a volunteer outside to help guide the incoming traffic, so it was all good. Once in, Stage Manager Natasha Graham offered the small group of attendees (barely a dozen per showing…it’s one intimate venue indeed, folks) some tasty tea while we waited in the kitchen, with a few understanding but doubtlessly confused ACTUAL backpackers, for the show to begin.

Anger in Earnest and Ernestine

Soon enough we made the steep trek down the stairs to the cramped laundry room basement that serves as the adorably intimate setting for the seriously impressive debut Vacant House has readied down there. Directed by Plosive’s David Whiteley, the show stars Patrick Kelly and Karina Milech as newlyweds Ernest and Ernestine, who just moved into the first basement apartment. It also stars Nick Fournier and Alexis Scott as the ANGER in Ernest and Ernestine…they shadow all of the action, speaking up when one of our supposed lovebirds starts losing their cool. Which, as the name of the show implies, starts happening with alarming regularity.

Alexis Scott, Patrick Kelly, Nick Fournier and Karina Milech in THE ANGER IN EARNEST AND ERNESTINE.  Photo by David Whiteley.

Alexis Scott, Patrick Kelly, Nick Fournier and Karina Milech in THE ANGER IN EARNEST AND ERNESTINE. Photo by David Whiteley.

All four actors are alumni of the Ottawa Theatre School, and they do their school proud with some killer work in a tremendously entertaining one-act show. The sheer amount and quality of physical theatrics that accompany their performances, in such a crazily cramped space makes me not only doff my reviewer’s cap to them as a collective, but also wonder how they hell nobody got trampled or steamrolled in the ensuing theatrical madness. Not that you’re actually in danger, folks (tho watch out for flying cornflakes), the Vacant House kids are pros and no fooling. The story ranges from sweet to wrenching, comic to patently absurd, and they throw their all into every exceptional moment of it. Patrick Kelly was the only one I hadn’t seen in action previously, and he was pretty damn hilarious as nebbishy Ernest, matching up nicely with Karina Milech’s flighty Ernestine. Alexis Scott and Nick Fournier (Nick fuckin’ Wade!!) add airs of both comedy and menace as the darker halves, occasionally interacting with the unofficial fifth member of the cast, the furnace.

The Furnace sometimes gets the better of Ernest and Ernestine .  Photo by David Whiteley.

The Furnace sometimes gets the better of Ernest and Ernestine . Photo by David Whiteley.

This is a very special theatre experience, folks, and I definitely urge you to strap on your backpack and head down to the Inn (NOT the Jail Hostel, like I dimwittedly headed for the first time…but then, I’m much dumber than you, whoever is reading this) for a basement outing you won’t soon forget. And yes, I know it sounds like I’m gushing because they’re OTS gangsters, which is my weakness, but seriously…a great job, and a wonderful accomplishment. This show is just a fucking joy to be part of, and I expect I’ll be back before its run is out. Reserve your tickets early if you want to beat me to the couch! And did I mention there’s tea..? Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

 

The Comedy of Bears

In Theatre on July 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm

July means two things in Ottawa…intermittent rain, and Shakespeare in the Park!  Okay, and Bluesfest, but what am I, a dirty hippie?  Nay, I am in dire need of some proper cultural refinement this summer, and my first bit of theatre in the great outdoors was just the ticket.  I had a plan for my post-drudgery evening, but an emergency trip back to my place across town necessitated a change of scheduling.  So instead of catching the Company of Fools show in the Glebe (soon guys, soon!), it was off to Iona Park in Westboro to check out what relative newcomers Bear and Company had cooked up for their out-of-doors extravaganza.

The Bear gang has picked THE COMEDY OF ERRORS for the summertime fun, featuring many faces familiar to their fans, and directed by company member Anna Lewis.  Transplanting Zombie Bill’s farcical classic quite successfully into an old west setting, the action is set in the round, and we lucked out with great weather for the show.  We begin as the town Mayor (Will Somers) is bringing in a defeated looking old fella named Egeon (Tim Oberholzer, in one of several splendid characters guises) who has been sentenced to death for debt, or being a foreigner or something.  At any rate, he unfolds his tale of woe to the Mayor, explaining how he and his wife had just become parents to identical twins 33 years ago, and then immediately adopted ANOTHER pair of identical twins (don’t ask), only to lose track of one another in a shipwreck.  Egeon and his split set of twins, Antipholus (Michelle LeBlanc) and Dromio (David Benedict Brown) are now scouring the west looking for their other relations.  Unbeknownst to them, Shakespeare stacked the coincidence deck by having the other Antipholus (Michelle LeBlanc again) and other Dromio (David Whiteley) living comfortably in the very town they now all found themselves in.

Naturally, some identity-confused merriment ensues, as the visiting Antipholus runs afoul of the other Dromio, and gets unexpectedly wooed by his brother’s wife (Alexis Scott), even if he only has eyes for her sister (Rachel Eugster).  Along the way there’s some very hummable singing courtesy of Bear and Co’s ace musical director Rachel Eugster, lots of rope swinging and knock-down brawling, and even a proper Shakespearean farting contest (I mentioned the cultural refinement, right?). This is a terribly fun piece of theatre in the great outdoors, with as good an ensemble cast as you would ever need.  David Benedict Brown and David Whiteley as the twin Dromios are comic gold, ever beaten down and bemoaning their fates.  Alexis Scott got some spontaneous applause from the audience on my night while delivering one of Adriana’s more impassioned speeches towards the visiting Antipholus, and for my money she earned it…Rachel Eugster likewise made a vivacious Luciana. Will Somers, Anna Lewis and Leslie Cserepy (trading off the odd show with Brie Barker) round out the killer cast, pitching in as various nitwit sheriffs, washing women and uppity nuns.  But the bulk of the show rests on Michelle LeBlanc’s capable shoulders, and she delivers like nobody’s business, managing to convincingly play two versions of Antipholus (complete with ever-so-slightly different country accents and swagger) and deliver the requisite mountain of dialogue, baffling amount of exits and re-entrances, plus the occasional rope trick, and lookin’ good doing it.  Once again, Miz LeBlanc reminds us why she’s one of the best in Ottawa.

Just don't get her mad.

Just don’t get her mad.

As a big CALAMITY JANE fan, I was all looking forward to this western spin on Billy Shakes, and the gang did not disappoint. Bear and Company’s take on the Shakespeare in the Park gig is proving to be a very fun one, and I’d advise you to check their website for when their show moseys your way…personally, I have every intention of returning with my nieces when they hit Kanata and I’d love to see ya there.  Peace, love and soul, y’all,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

the War of the Tractors

In Theatre on April 25, 2013 at 8:29 am

Still behind on my reviews here, it’s getting bad folks.  Not even gonna bother trying to do my usual PRIX RIDEAU AWARDS writeup…but let’s face it, I shouldn’t even have gone without my perma-date Nadine Thornhill to dance with.  I was all grumpy and lonesome…should’a gone to Burlesque instead.  Ah well.  Loved the hula-hoop bit, tho.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of actual theatre to go and see, which is keeping me hopping.  After catching Algonquin Theatre’s FLYING SOLO show on Monday (and hopefully I’ll have time to write something about that soon), last night was my first chance to run over to my soon-to-be Alma Mater at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, for the last of three public shows from the graduating Ottawa Theatre School class.  They’d previously done the Greek classic THE EUMENIDES and Lawrence Aronovitch’s world premiere FALSE ASSUMPTIONS, and now, as is appropriate, it was time for something completely different.  An apt description, I think, for the great Canadian staple THE FARM SHOW.

A collective creation, spearheaded I do believe my one Miles Potter for Theatre Passe-Muraille in Toronto back in the 70’s, FARM SHOW is an amazing piece that feels part verbatim, that provides an incredible opportunity for the OTS kids to really stretch out and show what they can do. Entering the Studio with a rousing victory cheer and introducing themselves, the gang soon launches into a series of vignettes and stories collected from Clinton, Ontario about the great highs and terrible lows about rural farm life.  Comparable to UNDER MILK WOOD from two years past, this show is a brilliant showcase for the talents of the graduating class, and they hurl themselves into the challenge immediately, transforming themselves into chickens, tractors and cows as the scene requires.  Director Andy Massingham, a lad who knows a thing or two about physical theatre, is just about the perfect helmsman I can think of for this piece, and it shows.

postfs

Every actor gets a chance to shine in this show, from Nick Fournier’s harrowing account of baling hay to Alis Rainier’s cautionary tales about the darker side of farm living.  Holly Griffith and Dilys Ayafor have a mightily memorable over-the-top battle as a pair of clashing tractors at a Farm equipment show, huffing and snarling with a gusto that brought me back to pro wrestling in the 80’s (honestly, they should have had someone taking bets in the audience).  Tiffani Kenny steals a beautiful moment as eccentric collector of oddities Harry Thompson, and Alyssa Gosselin makes merry as aging matriarch Alma Lobb (lots of Lobbs in this show…lots and lots of Lobbs, oh yes).  Hannah Gibson Fraser gets a marvellously manic monologue as a struggling Farm Mom, Alexis Scott as yet another Lobb gives an epic retelling of a cavalcade of town weddings, and Karina Milech gets a couple of memorable turns both as a travelling preacher and Clinton outsider Charlie Wilson.

This is a terrific joy of a show, with some especially impressive physical teamwork, mirroring the collective origins of the show itself.  Toss in a few musical numbers, some from the original script, some added by director Massingham, and some amazing insights and windows into the realities of rural farming life that every Canuck needs to see, and you have just about the best all-around theatrical bet in town right now (and that’s saying something).  I’d see this one again in a second, and I just might have Saturday night free, so we shall see.  Kudos to Andy and the gang for a dynamite show (and yes, it’s fun for the whole family, even..!) that ends this OTS season with a bang.  Or at least, a resounding Moo.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

the Radium Girls

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2013 at 1:13 am

Gonna try and get this one done old school, stayin’ up late and powering it out before I pass out and have to go to work in the morning.  Mostly because I have to head out to the Ottawa Theatre Challenge tomorrow night and I don’t wanna drag my laptop along with me to work (it’s HEAVY!! *pout*).  We’ll see how successful I am…I’ve been wimping out and leaving my reviews to the next day for a while now.  But I feel inspired.

Is my inspiration partially on account of tonight’s show was the latest from the graduating class of theatre gangsters from the Ottawa Theatre School?  And the fact that as of today, I’m a registered student in the 2013/2014 1st year class (OH yeah, I done paid my deposit up LIKE A BOSS this morning)?  Or is it because Nick Fournier, the sole male specimen in said class, is gonna be one of my most excellent co-stars in our upcoming Fringe show this summer?  And can I convince ANYone out there that I’m even remotely unbiased or professional or critical or whatever?

Ah, who fuckin’ cares, when did I ever let my obvious cheerleader tendencies stop me?  I clearly love me some OTS, and I was out at the Gladstone theatre tonight to check out the second show from the graduating class this year, the world premiere of Lawrence Aronovitch’s FALSE ASSUMPTIONS.  A bit of a co-pro with Plosive Productions, a collaboration that got them not only the lovely Gladstone theatre for the week but the terribly talented Teri Loretto-Valentik in the director’s chair, FA tells the tale of the life and trials of legendary scientist Marie Curie.  Played by Hannah Gibson-Fraser in a demanding and nearly perfect performance, Marie’s story is overseen by a rather unlikely group, a trio of fellow female scientists, all criminally underrated in their time as Curie was (and a trend that is by no means dead today, in case anyone was questioning this plays relevance).  Investigating and observing Marie’s story from an unidentified, otherworldly plane are Hypatia of Alexandria (Karina Milech), Countess Ada Lovelace (Alexis Scott) and Rosalind Franklin (Holly Griffith), who make for a rather wonderful group of narrators indeed.  They guide us through Curie’s life, from her humble beginnings in Poland with sister Zosia (Tiffani Kenny) to her fateful meeting in Paris with future husband and scientific collaborator Pierre (Nick Fournier), who would help her to sift through a few metric tons of Pitchblende and discover Radium, which would turn out to be both a blessing and a terrible curse.  Even as Marie is watched over by her trio of non-temporal peers, she’s hunted and haunted by the mysterious Grace (Alison Rainer) and her gaggle of ‘Radium Girls’, seeking some hard answers of their own for Marie’s discoveries.

fa

ASSUMPTIONS is a very smart and important play…I heard one woman in the lobby after the show rather adamantly insisting it should be required viewing, and I’m not sure she’s wrong.  Not that I didn’t have an issue or two with the mechanics of the work itself, but on the whole it’s a bloody impressive piece.  Marie and her ghostly chorus are onstage for pretty much the 2-hour duration of the play, in a very dense script from Aronovitch, and they acquit themselves wonderfully.  As mentioned, Hannah Gibson-Fraser is just fantastic as Marie Curie, selling the great lady’s almost obsessive discipline along with her more relatable human frailties.  And as her great love Pierre, my man Nick Fournier is a smashing leading man and enjoys some amazing chemistry in his scenes with Hannah.  As for our chorus (not really, but it’s what I like to call them), our three ghostly guides are what take this play from a dry bio into something really special.  The clashes and alliances between them are wonderful to watch…Karina Milech’s majestic Hypatia jibes beautifully with Alexis’ romantically-minded Ada Lovelace, and both of them have marvellous back and forth with Holly Griffith’s Spock-esque Rosalind, who may hold the ultimate secret of the play in her hands.  And a special shoutout to final cast members Alyssa Gosselin as a dedicatedly persuasive American Journalist, and  Dilys Ayafor, who appears as not one but two separate male suitors of Marie’s.  She be SMOOTH, and that’s the truth.

I could go on, like about how impressive is it that the gang got Attila Clemman’s sweet-cool set in place in the astonishingly little time they had, or the great job they all did, some with multiple roles.  But why bother?  I’ve already admitted my bias, and all I can tell you is I had a great damn time and hope you follow my example and head out to FALSE ASSUMPTIONS in its world premiere run this week only at the Gladstone!  Funny, insightful and overdue…check it out.   Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Hell Hath no Furies

In Uncategorized on November 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

It got a bit messy this week at my day job drudgery….I’ve whined about it already here and elsewhere, you’ve likely had your fill.  Well, so had I, and a night off with some good theatre was just what Doctor McHate-Your-Job ordered!  Luckily for me, it was that magical time of year when the graduating class at the Ottawa Theatre School begins putting on their slate of public performances, and ya know I love me my OTS gangsters.  A quick trek out to Westboro to my old alma mater at the OSSD brought me to the lovely Natalie Stern Studio, where the evening’s show, THE EUMENIDES, was going up.

Technically part three of Aeschylus‘ classic Greek trilogy (do I even have to mention it was a tragedy?   Come on, it’s Greek) The Oresteia, following the hilarious events of AGAMEMNON and THE CHOEPHORI…think lots of war, murder and revenge, and you’re getting warm.  Our story picked up with Orestes (Nick Fournier) on the run after having murdered his Mother Clytemnestra (Hannah Gibson-Fraser).  Sure, she’d killed his Father, and Sun-God Apollo (Alexis Scott) totally made him do it, but it turns out matricide is kind of a bugaboo with the Furies, a cabal of nightmare women from the bowels of the Earth who you do NOT want to get on the wrong side of.  The lot of them (Dilys Ayaforq, Karina Milech, Alyssa Gosselin, Alison Rainier, Hanna Gibson-Fraser again, and Holly Griffith, who also does double duty as a priestess in the opening scene) relentlessly pursue Orestes to Athens, where he appeals to the Goddess Athene (Tiffani Kenny) for justice, whatever that may end up being.  Athene, not being a small thinker, decides to invent the modern legal system right then and there to settle the dispute.

It was great to finally see this class of kids in action, and in such a cool beans show to boot.  Director Jodi Essery, a new and welcome addition to the OTS, put the gang to pretty solid use, and made a highly engaging spectacle out of Aeschylus’ well-aged work.  Right off the bat, I have to applaud the gaggle of Furies, who quickly became probably my fav’rit ever onstage chorus…they were ultracool and scary as Hell, and I had a hard time taking my eyes off of them anytime they were about.  Dilys Ayaforq was especially impressive as the head Fury, and Milech and Gosselin also did great work, slinking around joined at the arm.  Terribly creepy and fun, folks.  And wow, Alexis Scott makes for a bloody fantastic Apollo, swaggering about the stage like Han Solo after he’s just nailed Princess Leia.  It’s a great performance, and one of several…Griffith’s opening monologue is a stunner.  This is a terrific show that still holds up after, what, a thousand years?  Depending on what part of the world you’re looking at, the arguments in this show about Justice vs. the Law are just as important as ever.

Also? Kickin’ beard, dude.

Essery’s direction is spot-on, making sweet use of the cozy studio space.  The costumes are WICKED cool (the program only mentions a costume ‘consultant’, Deborah Hoeberg, but all props to her!), and really help sell the mood.  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention stage manager Jodi Morden, herself a former OTS kid come back to help guide the talented new crop.  If you want to support new, exciting theatre (you do), and especially show some love to the great Ottawa Theatre School program (you REALLY do), then you need to get yourself out to catch this show while it’s here.  You’ve got until the 24th…don’t miss out, or the Furies’ll getcha (sorry, cheesy ending…sometimes I just can’t help myself)!  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)