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Posts Tagged ‘jonah allingham’

Fresh Meat 2014 – Week One Preview!

In Theatre on October 13, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Okay, so I’m not really getting out to see or review, well, anything these days.  Which sucks, because I’m missing some cool shows, which is kind of unlike me.  But even with my suddenly loopy rehearsal schedule, even I will be getting out this Thursday to catch the opening night of the coolest theatre party in town, the third FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL.  From humble roots at the Pressed Cafe on Gladstone to last year’s shenanigans upstairs at the Lunenburg, the DIY Fest and brainchild of Jonah Allingham is back, this time in an honest to gosh theatre!  Or, okay, Arts Court Library, but they have risers now and everything!  And the Courtroom next door is being converted into a bar/lounge for in between and after shows, so I’m calling it an improvement.  Like last year, the event is split into two weeks, now with five different companies presenting their original, twenty-minute works each weekend from Thursday thru Saturday.  Ain’t no funner theatre bash in town, and here’s what you can look forward to having your collective worlds rocked by in the first weekend:

Backpack 2MY CARDBOARD LIFE from Backpack Theatre.  Written by and starring Fresh Meat Founder Jonah Allingham his own bad self, and directed by the awesome Katie Swift (who Ottawa last saw in the amazing HROSES from Evolution Theatre).   It don’t get much more do it yourself than cardboard box props, and that’s where Backpack is starting their latest theatrical adventure.  Back for the third time at Fresh Meat, following the wicked cool SUMMER OF ’34 and THE B TEAM.

Forstner and Fillister 1FORSTNER AND FILLISTER PRESENT: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER IN: FORSTNER AND FILLISTER from, you guessed it, Forstner and Fillister.  A two-man comedy about the wild world of woodworking, starring Will Somers and Dave Benedict Brown, and directed by Melanie Karin Brown.  That’s an impressive list of talent, and a whole lot of funny for just twenty minutes to try and contain.  Will they be able to build something sturdy enough to do the job??  Come and see.

Thunk! 1smash.bam.kapow. from Thunk! Theatre.   Superheroic misadventures from the wonderful Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride, the dynamic duo that brought us BREAD and FAR & NEAR & HERE, as well as being the current holders of the coveted Rubber Chicken Award.  Always innovative and inspirational, their presence is reason enough by itself to get your ticket.

ME AND MY MONSTER from Cart Before the Horse.  Starring the unstoppable Megan Carty (soon to be seen again at the Avalon Studio in a reprise of SHAPE OF A GIRL starting on the 31st) in a one-woman show about the monsters under all our beds.  Directed by Paul Griffin, and sure to be powerful medicine indeed.

Traced_Theatre_2THE BIG WEED from Traced Theatre.  Some killer comedy to round out the first weekend, in this offering from the awesome Alli Harris, Lindsay van der Grinten, and director Gabbie Lazarovitz. After a solid debut at this year’s Ottawa Theatre Challenge, I can’t wait to see what Traced comes up with now.

That’s it for opening weekend…tho I should mention that smash.bam.kapow will only be playing the first two nights, and a SUPER SECRET SHOW will be offered in its stead on Saturday!  Remember, the bar will be open the whole time, and you can get your advance tickets at the Fresh Meat Website!  See you there, and again same time next week for a peek at Week Two (About which I’m oddly overexcited, for some reason…)!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid (and Winston)

 

Fresh Meat 2013 Preview – Part 2!

In Theatre on October 23, 2013 at 8:27 am

Well, Week one of the second edition of the FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL in Ottawa is over, and kick me like a yappy poodle but it was a good damn time.  Where to start?  I was there on Thursday and Saturday, and got to see: two mighty hilarious sets from hosting heroes GRIMPROV; Whimsimole making a solid, funny theatrical debut with TEMP (featuring Nick Wade himself, hurrah!); the ladies of Little Green Hat making potato sacks look good in the haunting WHO WILL SEPARATE US?; Mado Boyes-Manseau being freaking amazing in her one woman drama TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET; Tony and Jake getting too close for comfort in Rapscallion Diversion’s MANIMALES; Nick Amott having too much fun with lighting effects in WAKE; and Thunk! Theatre being just all beautiful and wonderful in FAR & NEAR & HERE.  All this plus booze, friends, and all the ambient sound you can handle!  What more could you ask for?  A whole other weekend of that, perhaps?  You got it.  Here’s what to look forward to in the second spectacular week of the little theatre festival that just doesn’t give a fuck:

Tim, Kristine and Brooke of TWO AND A HALF WOMEN.

Tim, Kristine and Brooke of TWO AND A HALF WOMEN.

Hosting duties for part two fall, almost appropriately enough, to TWO AND A HALF WOMEN, a mighty improv trio consisting of Kristine Shadid, Brooke Cameron and Tim Anderson.  Formed in 2012 as part of Crush’s ‘Bout Time series, they quickly became one of the winningest and most beloved teams ever to make merry at the Elmdale Tavern.  Trust me, it will be VERY good to see them back together.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert of MAY CAN THEATRE.

Tony Adams and Cory Thibert of MAY CAN THEATRE.

And the shows proper get underway as well, with Ottawa faves MAY CAN THEATRE, who most recently killed it at Fringe with their latest full lengther, HAPPINESS(tm), as well as a certain collaboration with BackPack Theatre (see below).  Now Cory and Tony are back at Fresh Meat with MOTION PASSED, their first ever collaboration with director Tania Levy.  Tania is all kinds of fantastic so this is more good news, folks, and I expect greatness from their tale of the Beautification and Improvement team of Sandy Hill.

The B Team. bitches.

The B Team. bitches.

Then there’s the company that Fresh Meat founder Jonah Allingham built, BACKPACK THEATRE.  After solo shows at the Fringe and original FM fest, Backpack and May Can teamed up for THE TRAGICALL HISTORIE OF NICK WADE (AND OTHER FUCK UPS) last summer, scoring the Future of the Fringe award (and yes, I may or may not have been in that show as well).  Backpack’s latest is THE B TEAM, an action-figure adventure about the unstoppable Bean Brothers, featuring Jonah, Nick Fournier, and Leslie Cserepy.

Obviously, A Theatre2

New to the Festival, but old hats at killer storytelling, OBVIOUSLY A THEATRE COMPANY are jumping in the Fresh Meat arena with their offering UNTITLED, UNPUBLISHED AND UNSETTLED, featuring three poetic performances by Fraser MacKinnon, Jean Nicolas Masson and Elizabeth McIelwain, for something a little off the usual path.

Dead Unicorn Ink2

One last original Fresh Meat Team, DEAD UNICORN INK are returning, hot off the remount of their Fringe hit CHESTERFIELD with their new show SCARS, written by Sylvie Recoskie, and featuring herself along with Ted and Patrice-Ann Forbes, and directed by Aaron Lajeunesse.  The story of what promises to be a terrifically uncomfortable morning after, DUI has a history of delivering some pretty cool goods, and this should be no exception.

EGODETH1

A welcome addition to the festival lineup this year is EGODETH, aka Norah Paton (who you may remember as director of the Fringe fav’rit AROUND MISS JULIE this past summer) and Kara Crabb, who are teaming up to bring us FORSAKEN DAUGHTERS OF WINTER, a story about ‘one woman’s journey through cultural carnage at the forefront of a new scientific era’.  Which, quite frankly, sounds like exactly my cuppa tea.  Can’t wait.

Here Be Dragons1

And finally, another new company tp Fresh Meat (and even more Ottawa Theatre School power, yay!) Caitlin Corbett’s HERE BE DRAGONS returns from her Fringe debut MORNING STAR with a whole new ensemble piece, FOUNDATIONS.  A story about the forgotten ghosts of the Rideau Canal, and featuring smooth Tim Oberholzer Nick Surges, and OTS alums Hannah Gibson-Fraser and Mitchel Rose, this is definitely one to look forward to.

The Festival runs for three remaining days, and costs 15$ a night or 25$ for the whole weekend.  If you already bought the full festival pass LAST weekend, then just come on in!  Here’s the lineup for each day (tho as before, the specific running order won’t be decided until the evening of the performances):

Thursday the 24th: Backpack, Here be Dragons, Egodeth, Obviously a Theatre Company.

Friday the 25th: Backpack, May Can, Dead unicorn Ink, Obviously a Theatre Company.

Saturday the 26th: May Can, Egodeth, Dead Unicorn Ink, Here be Dragons.

I promise, folks, you don’t want to miss a minute of this festival, even with the crumby bands occasionally bleeding through from below.  It just adds to the DIY fun!  Grounds up, hands on Theatre like this doesn’t happen every day, but thanks to enterprising and energetic little upstarts like the Fresh Meat gang, we’re getting closer all the time.  Come on and support them, like you know you want to.  See you there!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Fresh Meat 2013 – Preview part 1!

In Theatre on October 16, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Last year this town got a much needed infusion of cool when theatrical whippersnapper and Ottawa Theatre School alum Jonah Allingham inaugurated the first ever FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL in Ottawa, a micro-Fringe spotlighting a handful of local young theatre companies over a weekend at the Pressed Cafe.  Each group premiered an original short creation in a funky, intimate atmosphere…the bar was open, the mood was playful, and Ottawa’s theatre community was raring to go.  This year it’s back, more than doubling in size and scope and moving to new digs at the Lunenburg Pub.  All the original companies are back, and being joined by a swell gaggle of new blood, necessitating a whole extra weekend to squeeze everything in.  Which is fantastic, because Ottawa’s young theatre community is clearly just bursting at the seams with new stories to tell, and Jonah and crew deserve huge kudos for creating a place for them to tell them. Let’s take a look at what’s happening for week one, because yay!

GRIMProv, contemplating the consequences of their actions.

GRIMProv, contemplating the consequences of their actions.

Local improv scamps and Fresh Meat originals GRIMPROV will be hosting the opening weekend from the 17th to 19th, and if memory serves from their performance last year, you may want to bring an umbrella.  They’ll be presiding over the debuts of six new pieces of theatre, which you can catch for $15 a night,$25 for the weekend, or $40 for the whole festival.  And which shows, you ask?

Well, first up there’s returning company RAPSCALLION DIVERSION, aka Jake William Smith, who debuted last year with the solo HENCHMAN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE.  With his latest, MANIMALES, Jake teams up with local hero Tony Adams of May Can theatre (more on them next week) to bring us a tale of bromance and discovery in the great outdoors.

Jake William Smith and Tony Adams in MANIMALES.

Jake William Smith and Tony Adams in MANIMALES.

Also returning is the wonderful LITTLE GREEN HAT, a hat worn very well by company founder Tess McManus.  Miss Tess, understanding how awwesome my new alma mater at the Ottawa Theatre School really is, has drafted a couple of powerhouse OTS ladygrads to up the girl power of her latest, WHO WILL SEPARATE US?  featuring McManus herself, Victoria Luloff and Holly Griffith as three women locked in a Belfast prison (and before you start flashing back to your favourite Women in Prison movie moments, I suspect they have something a little different up their sleeves for this one).  That’s talent aplenty, folks, and the writeup promises a cool blend of music, movement, politics and drama.

Victoria, Holly and Tess in WHO WILL SEPARATE US?

Victoria, Holly and Tess in WHO WILL SEPARATE US?

The rest of opening weekend is comprised of all newcomer companies to Fresh Meat, starting one completely new company, WHIMSIMOLE from Emily Soussana and Lewis Caunter.  I know and luv Lewis the sound guy from my Fringe experience this past June and cannot wait for his company’s inaugural offering, TEMP.  After getting their feet wet at Lumiere festival and Nuit Blanch, Whimsimole is ready for their first helping of Fresh Meat, and it should be good stuff indeed.

Whimsimole1

Up next (and holy shit, are you guys in for a treat), the amazing Madeleine Boyes-Manseau is up to bat with her new solo creation TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET.  One of the most talented gals in town, and with the awards to prove it , Mado never disappoints and her latest looks like it’s gonna be fantastic.  Featuring curious items in jars and described as a play about ‘Old people’s skin, curious moral codes and (ultimately) hope’.  I fail to see what more you could ask for.

Madeleine Boyes-Manseau1

And god damn, fresh off THE FIGHT at Fringe, and mere weeks before the remount of their very first show MERCUTIO AND OPHELIA at the Avalon, Nick Amott’s FIREFLOOD steps into the Fresh Meat fray with WAKE, the solo story of an insomniac who believes himself to be the next stage of human evolution.   Continuing Fireflood’s mandate of epic storylines and intimate characters, Founder Amott himself takes to the stage for this, the first solo piece for the company.

FireFlood Theatre1

Last but you better believe not least,, THUNK! theatre returns to Ottawa audiences after a very special experience baking BREAD at the Undercurrents Festival in February.  Geoff McBride and Karen Balcome are both back with their new bit FAR & NEAR & HERE, presenting the story of Ted and Ned and how they manage to meet in the middle of the ocean, bridging the gap from their homes in Far, and Near.  Expect some magic from Thunk!, kids, and you probably won’t be disappointed.

Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride of THUNK!

Karen Balcome and Geoff McBride of THUNK!

So much good stuff!!  Honestly folks, if you’re not coming out for this you need to seriously ask yourself if humanity really even needs you around. Here’s the night-by-night lineup for opening weekend, with GRIMProv hosting all three nights:

Thursday the 17th: Rapscallion Diversion, Madeleine Boyes-Manseau, Whimsimole and Little Green Hat.

Friday the 18th: Little Green Hat, Whimsimole, Thunk and Fieflood.

Saturday the 19th: Rapscallion Diversion, Thunk, Madeleine Boyes-Manseau and Fireflood.

fmII

Note that the order of shows for each night will be drawn by lot that evening and NOT posted online, so expect some variation from the lists I just wrote.  Doors open at 6:30 and shows start at 7 every night, and yes, the bar is OPEN.  I’ll be back with a preview of Week 2 in, well, about a week, featuring more all-new shows from May Can, Egodeth, Dead unicorn Ink, Backpack, Here be Dragons, Obviously a Theatre Company and 2 ½ Women! And in the meantime, dig into some delicious Fresh Meat.  Even if you’re a vegetarian (don’t worry, it’s only metaphorical meat).  See you there!  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

On the Road in ’34

In Theatre on July 5, 2013 at 8:25 am

So the Fringe is over, but as it turns out there’s still plenty of theatre to be had here in Ottawa.   Now that my own show has wrapped up, I’m finally free to partake of some of the ONE NIGHT ONLY series taking place for the first time ever at the Gladstone Theatre this summer.  The brainchild of Ottawa’s Steve Martin, the series features a dazzling variety of acts every Thursday thru Saturday evening for pretty much the whole summer, and it’s a great idea.  Last night was my first night hitting the event up, and I was excited for it.  I met up with Nick and Rebecca from THE FIGHT for a few pre-show drinks, then hustled it down to the Gladstone…and yeah, it felt weird to be there in summer, but whatever..!  For my first show of July.

That first show was one I was pretty stoked for…Backpack Theatre’s SUMMER OF ‘34: REDUX, created and performed by Jonah Allingham, so recently my awesome co-star in our Fringe show THE TRAGICALL HISTORIE OF NICK WADE.  But ‘34 is a story Jonah’s visited before, presenting the original version of this piece at the inaugural FRESH MEAT festival last year (and stay tuned for news on the 2nd installment one of these days!).  He’s retooled and expanded it for this new run…after last night at the Gladstone, he’s taking it a short walk away for a three-night run at the Happy Goat Coffee Company.  And if you weren’t there last night, then you should definitely plan a trip.

so34rx

A slice of no-frills Canadiana, ‘34 tells the tale of Jim, a born loser drinking away his sorrows at the Elmdale Tavern back in the day.  He’s lost his job, his beloved younger brother is sick with polio, and he doesn’t even know where he’s going to sleep that night.  Things get turned upside down when an extremely dodgy, but potentially lucrative, business transaction falls into Jim’s lap.  A terrific encounter at a secluded farm follows, and our hard-luck hero sets off on the road, pedalling for Kingston on a stolen bike like the devil himself was after him.  The scene is set sparingly and just right, with assist from new show director Leslie Cserepy and sound designer Lewis Caunter.  Simple props are used with maximum impact (sometimes literally), and Jonah’s stripped-down, painfully honest storytelling style fits the material to a T.  The play hits about 40 minutes in length, and to be honest I would have been happy with a little more.  Maybe next Fringe..?

summerof34redux

Like I say, you’ve got three more chances to catch some sweet, heartfelt and brutal stagework from a dude who just very rightfully got named as one of the Future of the Fringe…come on out and see why.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Three-Card Monte

In Theatre on April 5, 2013 at 12:02 am

It’s been too long since I saw theatre at the Carleton Tavern.  Too long I say!  In my natural anticipation I arrived about an hour and a half early to begin supping on beer and wings, to prepare for the long night ahead.  And oh, it was indeed a long night, in the best sense.

The only company in town with the stones to host theatrical productions at one of the last remaining true dive bars in this town is, of course, Chamber Theatre Hintonburg, who last graced the space with their killer interpretation of Tremblay’s MARCEL PURSUED BY THE HOUNDS.  Tonight, tho…tonight was to be all about Mamet.  This particular slice of David M. was EDMOND, an especially controversial and contentious throat-punch of a play set in late 70’s New York, and centering on the titular Edmond (Donnie LaFlamme, Chamber Theatre head honcho and co-Director of the play with Manon Dumas).  After a rendezvous with a fortune teller, Edmond decides to up and leave his wife one uneventful day, venturing out into the mean streets of NYC to find himself.  Along the way he meets barflies, pimps, whores, hustlers, crooks, cops, charlatans, and the surprising depths of his own soul.  It’s one of the most brash and intimate plays you’ll ever come across, and I have trouble imagining a better point in time and space for it to happen than here in Mechanicsville with Chamber, at the Carleton. Because, and this is the honest God-Damn truth, when the Chamber Theatre gang put shows on at the Tavern, something very special happens, a kinda magic. And a more brutally honest, grimy, punch-drunk magic you’ll never find than with this production of EDMOND.

edmond poster.pdf

Set on a makeshift stage midway through the main room at the Carleton, and aided by some killer bee sound design from Leslie Cserepy (who also co-stars), the story follows Donnie Laflamme as Edmond, on his poorly thought-out journey through the increasingly dark underbelly of the big city.  Some stunning and inspired direction from himself and Dumas, who appears as his estranged wife, gives Mamets unflinching script a brilliant push as the harrowing tale is told.  The ensemble cast is spot-on, many in multiple roles and making the occasional flamboyant entrance.  Bob Reynolds, who impressed me way back in MECHANICSVILLE MONOLOGUES II, has great moments as a convivial bar patron and a menacing detective both.  Anna Lewis and Jen Vallance shine as various ladies of the evening, endlessly haggling with Edmond over price.  Allison Harris, in the crucial role of Glenna the waitress, is fantastic, likewise Adam Pierre as a fast-talking pimp.  Leslie Cserepy, continuing his tradition of playing men of the cloth onstage, does great work both as a street preacher and a cardsharp, and my boys Cory Thibert and Jonah Allingham are great as always, especially in a key scene at a pawn shop.  And I can’t say too much about Karl Claude lest I spoil the plot, but..wow.  Want to see more.  As for Donnie himself, omnipresent in every scene, is just perfect as schlub Edmond, desperately seeking a freedom he has no idea what to do with.

In case my barely restrained gushing hasn’t made it clear, EDMOND is officially my must-see show of the year so far, and I have every intention of going back for more (and not just because I had 4 Quarts of 50 on opening night *hic*).  This is vibrant, unsettling, essential theatre made right, made real, and so personal it almost hurts.  Also, you can totally order chicken wings.  Go and see this show if you want your theatre to rock your soul (hint: you do).  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Ivona be Sedated

In Theatre on March 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Posting in a rush, a classic Visitor move, but it can’t be avoided this week.  Extra shifts at the drudgery, running around town to put a semi-secret, sneaky plan into motion which I’ll tell you all about later (hopefully if it’s successful, fingers crossed), and, best of all, plenty of theatre.

Kicking off this busy week is a trip back to Ottawa university and lovely Academic Hall, where the Unicorn Theatre gang were putting on what seems to be their final English-language mainstage play of the season, Witold Gombrowicz’ PRINCESS IVONA (or Iwona, księżniczka Burgunda for you purists out there), translated here helpfully by Krystyna Griffith-Jones.  Directed by Ekaterina Shestakova, ol’Gombro’s 1935 text about class structure (and more than a hint of Shakespearean parody) is transformed here into a high-fashion glam-world, where the primping, preening Royal Family of Burgundia pass from one shallow moment to the next, looking smashing and striking poses.  Infinitely self-pleased monarchs King Ignatius and Queen Margaret (Leslie Cserepy and Jaclyn Martinez, chewing some major scenery and looking good doing it) rule the scene, with loyal toady Chamberlain (Simon Lalande) never too far behind.  Their only concerns are keeping their posh outfits current, and watching out for moody Prince Philip (Tony Adams, sporting some serious hair), although he’s mostly kept content by his own coterie of lackies, Simon and Cyprian (Cory Thibert and Jonah Allingham).  All seems well, if utterly pointless, in Burgundia.  Rufus T.Firefly would be proud.

Into this bright and shiny scene slumps Ivona (Laurianne Lehoullier), a slouching, frumpy, almost eerily silent waif in clothes so unstylish they must almost be illegal in Burgundia.  Her fed-up Aunts (Alexandra Isenor and Lily Sutherland, doing double-duty as the Queen’s ladies) are trying to find a husband, ANY husband, to foist the girl off on…little suspecting the girl’s epic lack of style would attract the eye of Prince Philip himself.  Whether as a joke, boredom, ennui or simply a vicious streak, Philip claims the girl as his bride-to-be, nearly sending the King and Queen into shock and rocking the Kingdom.  And as the unlikely match carries on, despite the meek interference of a would-be rival for Ivona’s affections (Lewis Caunter), and the more potent wiles of Isobel (Ashley Rissler) towards Philip, Ivona’s meek presence stats to slowly unhinge the style-obsessed masses, until one by one they come to the conclusion that she simply HAS to go.  One way or another.

IVONA is an absurdist bit of fun with a wickedly dark undercurrent, worth it almost for the stylish cavalcade of clothes, hair and makeup alone.  The performances are uniformly solid, with May Can’s Tony Adams turning in solid leading man work as the petulant Philip, and Leslie Cserepy giving as good as he’s ever given as the paranoid and roaring Ignatius.  Jaclyn Martinez has a wonderful solo scene where her Queen nearly collapses into madness, and she’s just goddamn dandy in it.  But my big props just have to go to Laurianne Lehoullier as Ivona, in a nearly-silent role (I doubt she speaks a dozen words in the entire show), but commanding all attention with a physical performance that never once fails to ring true.  It’s fucking fantastic, and a credit to both her and director Shestakova.  She becomes the quiet little center of the brash, flashy kaleidoscopic show around her, and it works beautifully.  The play takes some very dark turns, with some pretty tweaked outbursts, and a finale you won’t soon forget.  A cool show and no fooling, and it runs until the 9th at Academic Hall  I recommend the creampuffs at intermission.  Peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

PS:  Checkers (Samuel Dietrich) totally deserves a raise.

The Dogs of War

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Decided to slack off a bit this week after all, and only see five shows instead of six.  Apologies all around, especially to the good folks at Tale Wagging Theatre, whose CRACKERS I ended up missing.  I just couldn’t talk myself into that kid-packed 95 bus ride back from Orleans on a Friday night.  Brrr.  Feel free to remount any old time (that doesn’t require time, planning or money, right..?).

But Bloggery blogs on, and I had a ticket booked for show #4 of the week last night.  And, when I finally managed to rather painfully extricate myself from the drudgery (note to every cook ever: if you’re slow on prep, I HATE you today), I hopped on the 95 (there’s no escaping it!) and headed on over to Centrepointe Theatre.  This was opening week for the second ever Ottawa Shakespeare Company production, and a long delayed one at that, JULIUS CAESER.  There was some serious buzz about this particular production heading in…it sounded like director and company co-founder Charles McFarland was pulling out all the stops to make this an evening to remember.  And in the end, it’s hard to argue with that.

Eugene Clark’s Caeser takes command.

You may have heard that the ticketing for this production is split into two groups each night…audience, or ‘participant’.  The participants are taken aside before the show  and coached in their roles, mostly consisting of being part of several raucous mob scenes, including the one that kicks the play off.  They later get to watch the stage action from the sidelines, or the balconies overlooking the staging area.  It’s a fun idea, and the gang looked like they were having a blast being part of the show.  It certainly added a pretty unique kind of energy to the proceedings.

The show itself, Billy Shakes’ epic about regicide and its down side (regicide is, like, TOTALLY frowned upon in some places), gets the usual McFarland update, visually setting it in modern times with lots of flair.  Gemini winner Eugene Clark headlines as Caeser himself, coming off nicely larger than life, a rockstar Caeser who rules by sheer force of charm and will.  At his side are loyal Mark Antony (Brad Long, who’s having quite the Shakespearean year after A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM and MACBETH), and slightly not-so-loyal Brutus (Mac Fyfe, a pretty impressive force on stage his own self).  Brutus is led into conspiracy against Caeser by the envious Cassius (Michael Mancini, very earnest in his scheming and lots of fun), along with a host of other plotters.  The bloody coup backfires against Brutus and Cassius, who find themselves at odds with Antony and Octavius Caeser (Diego Arvelo, who has great presence on the stage…glad to see him back up there).  Along for the ride are Casca, played by the ever-wonderful Richard Gelinas, David Dacosta as Cinna, Stavros Sakiadis as Titinius, Spencer Robson as Decius Brutus (Two Brutuses? Really, Shakespeare,  that’s just lazy), and yay, Jonah Allingham as the soothsayer!  Katie Bunting and Sarah McVie are in there as well, as the wives of Brutus and Caeser respectively, and have all too little stage time.  Shakespeare wrote great plays, but not a lot of great roles for women.  Maybe I’ll cast them in the all-female version of HAMLET I have running around in my head these days…

JC is a highly entertaining and energetic production, faithful to the themes of the classic work but adding in just enough updated tweaks to make it feel fresh.  Some of the high-tech effects are VERY impressive,  and I suspect we haven’t seen the last of them in Ottawa.  Kudos to Stage Manager Becca Wiseman for calling this tech-heavy show so smoothly (and sitting in the back row of the balcony as I was, I could occasionally even hear them talking in the both…kind of funny).  Nods as well to Paddy Mann’s costume design, and a typically amazing AL Connors soundscape.

But right, the acting!  There was that too!  And can I just say that good old Brad Long is on a roll these days?  His Mark Antony was seriously impressive…he gives a mean ‘Cry Havoc’ speech, lemme tell ya.  Likewise Mac Fyfe’s idealistic Brutus, who has great interplay with Mancini’s Cassius.  The whole ensemble, many doing double duty as minor characters, deliver excellent work throughout.  And, of course, the eager crowd of participants, proving that Ottawa audiences aren’t always content to just sit and watch.  The show, running until November 3rd at Centrepointe Studio, is only 10 bucks for the first 100 people every night!  If you have an excuse not to see this show, I don’t believe you.  Hail Caeser!  Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

The (not so fresh) Fresh Meat post!

In Uncategorized on October 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Okay, so it’s been a week, or maybe more, depending on when I actually get this thing done.  And I know, I saw the festival on its last day anyways, so a timely review wasn’t exactly crucial.  But I still feel silly for waiting so long, especially since let’s face it…this is the kind of thing I live for.  And I hope at least one or two of you have been waiting (perhaps even on the edge of your seat) for my take on Ottawa first-ever (and very hopefully not last) FRESH MEAT FESTIVAL!

Due to my increasingly insane work schedule, I was only able to make it out to the final day of this, Ottawa’s latest mini-festival of theatre, at the Pressed Cafe on Gladstone.  I was a little sad to be catching only the end of the three day fest, as I’d been pretty stoked when producer and good guy Jonah Allingham first told me about it, not long after this year’s Fringe wrapped up.  He had some pretty crafty kids lined up for it at that time, pitching the idea as a sort of DIY festival, at a brand new spot (licensed, of course) where some up’n’coming theatre types could host an evening of their own all-original material in short spurts (approx. 20 minutes apiece).  Not seeing a downside to this, and being a big fan of up’n’coming theatre gangsters, I was more than ready when my chance to head out to the fest finally came around.  It was last Sunday (my last day off in what looks to be a good long while) after my volunteer shift at the GCTC, making it a good theatre day all ’round.

The Pressed turned out to be a pretty squinky spot for some bare bones theatre, with tasty eats and local beers available all the while.  I nabbed a pint and a post on a comfy sofa up front, and settled in for the six-show lineup, emceed all night by local heroes GRIMprov (also one of the performing acts).

Up first was the producer himself, Jonah Allingham of Backpack Theatre with his one-manner SUMMER OF ’34.  Continuing in the tradition of his Fringe sleeper hit IN WAVES, ’34 was a slice out of Canadian history.  And, like Waves, it was unflinching, stripped-down storytelling style theatre that rather fearlessly leaves its performer and creator utterly exposed on stage.

Exposed, and just a little bit tipsy.

The story of a down and out drinker who stumbles on a dangerous opportunity to make some quick cash, Jonah switches from drunken revelry to sudden violence to a mad, sweaty intercity bike ride (complete with bike!) in furious flashes, spouting darkly lyrical dialogue all the while.  It’s a messy, gritty joy of a show that, along with his initiative in getting this festival underway in the first place, upgrades Jonah in my own estimation to ‘force to be reckoned with’ status.  He’s good, and only getting better.  A very, very good start.

Following this up were hit Fringe team Dead Unicorn Ink and their latest, CAUTION: DO NOT FEED THE MERMAIDS by Sylvie Recoskie.  Toning down their penchant for full-blown puppet-powered production values(seen in pat shows PLAYING DEAD and SPACE MYSTERY…FROM OUTERSPACE!), but still adding a pretty slick gloss to thee show with a few nifty props’n’costumes, the show follows a shy high-schooler (Patrice Ann-Forbes, impressive and loveable in the lead) born with tentacles for arms and getting a predictably rough time of it for her troubles.

She meets up with a vain and vicious mermaid (a fire-haired Sylvie Recoskie, making a pretty fetching sea creature indeed…yow!), as well as striking up an unlikely romance with a thick fellow student (Mike Doiron, getting good laffs out of his dimwitted character).  It’s a darkly funny bit of fantasy fluff, putting a nice classic mermaid twist on the trials of teenage living.  But I gotta give this one to Patrice, who really shines throughout.  Very nice stuff.

Show #3 for the evening were local fav’rits May Can Theatre and another brand new piece, DUSK AND DAWN by Tony Adams.  Starring fellow co-founder Cory Thibert, and the amazing Madeleine Boyes-Manseau as a deer and an owl, respectively, who form an unlikely pairing in the forest.  Aided by musical accompaniment from splendidly unitarded director Adams, the show continues May Can’s streak of fun, thoughtful shows…a lot of heart, a heaping helping of nature, and a dash of heartbreak.

Not to mention the performances…Mado Manseau is always a joy to watch on stage (didja see OPEN COUPLE?  Fucking stellar.) and this show is no different.  And Cory Thibert makes a shockingly sweet baby deer!  Who knew?  I’m forgetting right now the name of the gal who played the puppet-gopher (don’t have my program with me, sorry!) but she was mighty fine too.  The staging was just as moody and cool as it needed to be…I’d like to see this one fleshed out a bit.  Three for three!

The second half of the show began with the debut of Jake William Smith’s Rapscallion Diversion (excellent company name) and THE HENCHMAN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE (another good name…that’s good naming, Smith).  From the vantage point of a veteran flunky in a supervillainous army, Jake’s put-upon trooper guides his new recruits (in this case we, the audience) with handy tricks to making it through day to day existence when working for a criminal mastermind.

Remember, kids: NEVER get tricked into leaving your post!

It’s a funny, high energy show from the talented JWS, and it’s good to see him stretching with a little solo work (May Can’s Cory Thibert directed the show).  Hero/villain/flunky dynamics have plenty of material to mine, and while one or two moments in the show strayed too close to AUSTIN POWERS territory, there’s plenty enough manic fun to carry us through.  This is another show that could definitely be worked into a longer piece (actually, that applies to most all of Fresh Meat, a good sign).  Also, cool uniform.

Without a beat, we segued into the penultimate show of the evening, from the night’s hosts GRIMPROV (aka Mike Kosowan, Joel Garrow and Drew McFadyen).  I’d arrived on a very special night indeed, featuring the troupe’s legendary technique of Puppet-Prov.  And if you like improv, well, you ain’t seen nothin’ til you’ve seen it done with puppets.  And if you DO see GRIMprov’s puppet improv, and you’re sitting in the front row..?  Bring an umbrella.

I won’t tell who, but one of them spits something fierce.

The lads put on a splendid bit of ‘prov, with their trusty puppet assistants and musical accompaniment from the ever excellent DJ Helicase.  Plug time: GRIMprov have a regular gig at the Imperial Tavern on Bank Street, first and last wednesday of every month.  So if you missed Fresh Meat, you can at least catch THIS act again anytime you want.

And what to cap off this magical evening of theatrical whimsy?  Why, the uber-whimsical Tess McManus and her Little Green Hat, with her one-woman show TALES SHE TELLS (following up her successful Fringe run of the delightful DONKEY DERBY).  Now, lacking as I am an advanced theatre degree, I’m unable to properly review the finer artistic aspects of Tess’ show (sorry, little one, I could not resist), but from my own non-edjicated perspective, it was a beautiful show from start to finish.  The start being a classic Irish song(Tess has a positively gorgeous voice, folks) leading into a quick recap of a variety of love legends from the emerald isle, always told with a bright theatrical flourish and always engaging.  I think young McManus is on to something with her shows on Irish lore and legend, and I hope like heck she continues on in this vein.  And shame on ya if you missed her latest!

Spoiler alert: she never actually WEARS a little green hat in the show. I know, I was disappointed too.

And that was a wrap on the inaugural FRESH MEAT DIY Theatre Showcase.  It was a great night, with vibrant, exciting performers and a wide range of styles at a fun, quirky venue.  I can’t say I hope this becomes an annual event, though, only because I hope it happens way more frequently than that.  I’d be willing to bet there’s more than enough young talent in town chomping at the bit for the challenge of a micro-fest such as this (Glassiano, I’m looking at you).  Can we schedule the next one for, say, February?  Maybe a nice post-UNDERCURRENTS timeslot.  Just a thought.  Jonah?

…Well, maybe I’ll let them all catch their breath first.  But I promise, if they DO put another one of these festivals on in less than a year, I’ll actually have my review up DURING the run, not 10 days after.  How’s that for a deal?  Peace, love and soul, Ottawa,

The Visitor (and Winston)

FRINGE-COMA 2012 – Day ONE

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm

— DON’T MAKE ME ZEALOUS –IN WAVES — FNL: FRINGE NIGHT LIVE — DONKEY DERBY — THE OPEN COUPLE —

Day One of Fringe 2012 has finally, FINALLY arrived…it started off with an opening party the previous night, which I merrily went to, and just sobered up from about 20 minutes ago.  It then continued with a bit of terrible news I received, personal-style, which will sadly impact part of my planned coverage for the fest.  But it’s the kind of bad news that supercedes even things Fringe, and if you know me, you know that’s saying a lot.  So, bad news.  Sigh.

But, FRINGE!  I headed out today right after work, and bought my first ticket of the year over at Arts Court, and BOY but it felt good.  And tho it was a little weird seeing the iron fence around the Court so bereft of Fringe-posters (some silly new rule this year, which I do not care for one bit, no sir), picking up that first ticket made up for it all.  I ended up seeing a solid 5 shows on day one, and even managed some down time in between a few of them, and a few drinks afterwards.  I saw lots of familiar faces, met the visiting Celeste Sansregret, who if you don’t know is bloody goddamn wonderful, hugged some pretty girls, and happily saw several members of TEAM VISITORIUM out and about, strutting their stuff and doing their bit.  It was inspiring stuff, kids, and I suppose I had just as well get to it.   Fabulous Fringe shows aren’t gonna write themSELVES up, which is the only reason anyone’s here!  And those first five shows..?

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–  DON’T MAKE ME ZEALOUS by Matt Minter.  From Fringe veterans ERUDITE THEATE (they were last in the fest with 2010’s ‘DENTITY CRISIS, and recently teamed with Sock’n’Buskin for a wicked cool version of MACBETH at Carleton U.)), ZEALOUS tells a weirdly dark, but pretty damn funny tale of a clash of religious beliefs.  Intellectual agnostic Tom (Brennan Richardson) is more than a little uneasy about his planned church wedding with Catholic girlfriend Jackie (Emily Bradley).  A few angry speeches and soulful confessions lead to Tom having a religious epiphany in the street…but maybe not the one his fiance could have hoped for.

The best part of having a religious vision is you get to drink mead RIGHT out of the horn.

Richardson and Bradley are both very strong as Tom and Jackie, and third cast member David Rowan does good triple duty as a friendly priest, wedding planner, and Mark the…but no, I won’t give away his full title here.  ZEALOUS is Edudite’s first go at an original play, and has a lot going for it.  It takes a marvelously skewed look at belief and faith, flirting with being too heavy-handed at times but always staying on the fun side of satire.  And it probably features the best Zeppelin cover you’re going to see at Fringe this year.  I do wish we’d gotten some scenes featuring the young couple at the heart of it all actually, you know, getting along…they mostly just argue the entire time, and I thought Emily Bradley could have been involved in the plot more.  But a good show, and Matt Minter’s direction was spot-on.   A good time.

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–  IN WAVES by Jonah Allingham.  I actually was going to see this show a little later on in the fest, but I missed my planned connection, and ya gotta be flexible in this game of Fringe, folks.  So a quick dart to the basement of the Laurier Oak later, and I was snug and ready for a little one-man theatre.  I’d already chatted with good guy Jonah about this piece, and was stoked to actually see it (I wasn’t the only one, as he packed the little space downstairs on opening night).  With zero set and some jury-rigged lighting and sound (courtesy of BACKPACK THEATRE friends Jack Terrion and Louis Caunter), Jonah’s sweet (and occasionally naughty) show told the tale of a lonely sailor, conscripted into Henry Hudson’s 1610 expedition to find the Northwest passage.  Amidst the brutal labour and harsh conditions, our hero dreams of his wife back in Canada…and has strange visions of another woman, somewhere in the water…

IN WAVES is a beautiful little theatrical gem, clearly a labour of love for Allingham.  The language is classic and poetical and, more often than not, raw.  There are some almost uncomfortably frank moments in the script, capturing the numbing solitude of a harsh life at sea.  And our hero’s visions of beauty in the deep blue sea are just understated enough to lend the show a magical quality.  When things take a dark turn, Jonah is more than up to the task and makes his character’s trials all too believable.  The show is short at around half an hour, but it’ll stay with you for much longer than that. Shoutout also to director Cat Leger, who helped Jonah bring this piece to fruition.  Great job all around!

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–  FNL: FRINGE NIGHT LIVE from Fish Schtick Productions.  Set up at Cafe Alt (yay, couches!), I was very much looking forward to FNL…I’d seen some of this gang previously at Sock’n’Buskin’s One-Act Comedy Festival a while back, and had a freakin’ great time.  And I loved the idea of the show, which I’ll let the lads explain to you:

The cast stars Jon and Jaime Champagne, David Rowan (yes, the same guy I just saw in DON’ MAKE ME ZEALOUS…so many people are doing double-duty in the Fringe it’s ridiculous. And AWESOME.), Adam Smith and Hisham Kelati, in a rapid-fire series of comedy sketches, interspersed with some digital shorts played on  a vacant wall.    Inspired by SNL, Kids in the Hall and the like, the FNL boys are fairly fearless with their comedy choices, and are pretty goddam fucking funny guys to boot.  Like any sketch show, some bits hit better than others…but that’s also the beauty of it.  If there’s a clunker, nevermind…a new one will be along in just a few minutes!  The boys have some pretty hilarious takes on cats and wedding singers, I can tell you that, and the Yoga sketch should have EVERYONE cracking up.   If there’s a show this year to catch after you’ve had a few drinks at the courtyard, well Hell, this is it.

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–  DONKEY DERBY by Tess Mc Manus (Little Green Hat/Black Sheep Theatre).  Hey, someone ELSE I chatted with, huzzah!  Now, I’ve dug the onstage styling of wee lady Mc Manus since I first saw her in Youth Infringement a couple years back, and was super-stoked to see her new, and first ever, one-woman show (aka my fav’rit kind of entertainment).  Set in Letterkenny, Ireland, the show listens in as our reluctant heroine Mary, hiding in a barn, relates her woes after she’s been drafted into a mad local tourney known as a ‘donkey derby’…participant are forced to try and race donkeys, contrary animals to say the least, for the amusement of everyone but themselves.  If you’re lucky, you win a turnip.  If you’re UNlucky you get hurled into shite.

Are you starting to get the ‘reluctant’ part yet?

Mc Manus’ Mary is an instantly endearing character, slowly spilling the truth of her lifetime of living out of the spotlight and away from possible harm, even as the tries to talk herself either into or out of participating in the quite insane derby.    When it all ties into the ongoing strife in her beloved Ireland, it makes perfect sense.  With directorial assistance from Dave Dawson of Black Sheep Theatre, DONKEY DERBY is a rapid-fire, highly entertaining tale about a young girl trying hard to come out of her shell.   Tess’ performance is wonderful, and I think will only get better as the show goes on (she only finished building the set, like, yesterday).  DERBY is completely charming and so foolishly likeable I already wanna go back.  And if you know me, I just might.

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–  THE OPEN COUPLE by Dario Fo.  My last show of the night was courtesy of Theatre Sasa, and director Jodi Sprung-Boyd (I talked to her too!  I never realized I was so chatty!), and this remount of a show she put on a year or so ago in Studio Leonard-Beaulne.  I missed it then, so I was thrilled to hear it was returning in the Fringe.  A play with a curious origin indeed (Fo wrote it as an apology to his wife for his many infidelities, and never intended it to be mounted as a play), the show stars Sean Sonier and Mado Boyes-Manseau as the couple in question.    After his wife threatens suicide more than once as a response to his unfaithful ways, the man in question  proposes she dimply do the same…ie, they become an open couple.  Which works in theory, but…

Yeah, sometimes these things don’t go as smoothly as they sounded in your head.

Jodi’s direction (which I’ve enjoyed in past productions EURYDICE and MAMAMOUCHI) shines here, and THE OPEN COUPLE is constantly engaging, exciting and fun.  Sean Sonier, subbing in for Ken Godmere who played the part in the original, is perfectly smug as the self-satisfied Man, so sure of his charm that he can hardly believe it when things start to crumble.  But it’s Mado Boyes-Manseau who shines the brightest as the Woman, giving probably one of the best performances you’ll see at this year’s Fringe.  I’m starting to get that she’s one of the best actors we’ve got in this town, and let’s all hope more people figure it out too.   This show is more than worth the epic upstairs trek to Studio 311…a big thanks to the Sasa gang for bringing this show back.  I owe ya one.

Right, that’s it for me for day one…I’ll be back tomorrow with five MORE reviews (and stay tuned for some more coverage, as the writeups start coming in from my Angels on TEAM VISITORIUM!), and I’ll have’em up quicker next time, I promise .  I’ll have to, I’m seeing shows starting at 12:30 tomorrow!  Yikes!  Stay  frosty, Fringers…peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)

Fringe-terview #4 – THE SUICIDE

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on June 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Back in April the Ottawa Theatre School put on a show called THE SUICIDE, at their home in the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.  It was a funny, subversive gem, written by forgotten Russian Playwright Nikolai Erdman, and directed by Ottawa Theatre legend Pierre Brault.  I got an invite from stage manager supreme Hilary Nichol (thanks Hilary!) to sneak into the OSSD a week or so ago to chat with Pierre and some of the cast…present that day were Jonah Allingham, Victoria Luloff, Drew Moore, Mitchel Rose, Nick Fournier and Hannah Gibson-Fraser.  Here’s what Pierre and the gang had to say about their show, about to be remounted in Cafe Alt for the Ottawa Fringe Festival:

THE SUICIDE original cast and crew, courtesy of Andrew Alexander. That’s Pierre Brault up at the top right.

Visitorium – What drew you to this piece in particular?

Pierre Brault – I first did this piece almost 30 years ago in Toronto, and it’s quite a popular piece that had been done at the Shaw festival, sort of rediscovered by a company in England and brought over.  In fact, I believe it was Derek Jacobi’s first NY appearance in this play.  Then it was adapted for the Shaw Festival which is the translation we’re using.  I think what really attracted me to it was how funny it was. I always appreciate good satire when done well…I think things like that are cyclical and They can be effective at one point, but maybe 9 years later they seem stale, but then suddenly it comes back in again and I think this is the case with this kind of play.  What drew me also were the characters and how richly drawn they were, and how a good satire can sort of…satire is not the same as comedy, it packs a punch.  The laughter carries a message with it and that’s what I think is very obvious in this play.

V – You’re mostly known for your writing and performing, is this your first time directing?

PB – Not my VERY first time, but I’d say it’s certainly one of the first times, absolutely.

V – Was it an enjoyable challenge, doing the show with this gang?

PB – Absolutely.  It’s been an incredible experience, and I think that the real enjoyment for me is to take all that I’ve learned from acting, from playwriting, from stand-up comedy and everything else that’s informed my career and be able to apply it to this kind of setting.  Because when I started doing this it wasn’t simply as being a director, but to a certain extent being a mentor as well.  So I’ve tried to give every opportunity to the students (who are no longer students but actually graduated actors), to give them the opportunity to use and abuse me and any sort of font of knowledge I claim to have.  I have been in the business for a couple of decades and I certainly know it well, so it was challenging for me in that I had to put myself into a different mindset.  As a performer I’ve done a lot of solo shows so I’ve directed myself a lot…to have a company to work with, that’s the most exciting part.  And to see individuals blossom as it were, because I’ve seen these guys go from 1st year, 2nd year…I haven’t watched their entire trajectory but I can certainly can see the growth.  And what’s exciting for me is asking myself what is gonna come next for them. So that’s kind of the excitement of being a director.

Pierre Brault in BLOOD ON THE MOON

V – BLOOD ON THE MOON was your first Fringe show?

PB – It was my very first fringe show at the 1999 Ottawa Fringe festival…it was a solo show, so a very different show than this.

V – A fairly successful show, as Fringe shows go (note: this is an understatement)…is it fun being back in the Fringe, in this capacity?

PB – Yeah, I’m really excited to be back in the Fringe, and also excited to be back as a director as opposed to being a performer because as a performer I remember just how excited I was to be surrounded by so much theatre.  And I think that’s one of the most amazing things about being in the Fringe festival is you get to go to the tent and talk to other performers who…you’ve just seen their show, they’ve just seen yours, and it’s a great petrie dish of creativity where it’s all sort of mixing together, and sometimes people talk to each other about their shows, and sometimes people complain about things.  I have a real love for the Fringe Festival.  I don’t always get to be in it, because I’m often doing other things but I certainly always try to see it and one of the things I’ve really enjoyed the last few years was being a judge at the Fringe festival.  Because then I was assigned things to see that ordinarily I would never see.  And some of them were absolute nuggets, beautiful diamonds in the rough that were surprising.   And it’s great to bring this show in in its full run (because this is a 90 minute show, Fringe shows are usually an hour) and to be able to present it to the public, give it a second chance, give THESE guys a second chance to refine what they’ve learned.  And not just do it in a studio presentation but to bring it out to the public as well…I think it’s a very good transformative point to them as actors.

V – Has anything changed since the original presentation of this play two months ago?

PB – Well, we have a couple of different cast members. (Note: Hannah Gibson-Fraser and Nick Fournier have taken over in the production for original cast members Jazmine Campanale and Adam Pierre, who have departed on other, cool-sounding projects of their own, and good luck to them!)…they have really responded very well to being plugged into the situation, so that has changed.  Obviously where we’re going to present it has changed, we’re going from a small studio to a bigger venue.  But I think the biggest advantage we have is that we can tap into a much larger audience

V – Are you going to continue working with the OTS?

PB – This is my 2nd year working with the school and I’ve had a real enjoyable experience, because when you teach or direct even it reminds you of why you’re in the business.  Because As a young actor you’re starting out, you do one show, another show…sometimes you can become, dare I say it, jaded by the business.  And so when you’re back with young actors, you remember how YOU felt about it.  To watch them light up creatively is really a wonderful experience for you as a teacher.  SO yes, come back as a teacher as a director, to come back instructing, it’s a great experience.

V – What excited you most about this play?

Drew Moore – The first time we looked at it was very dense and text heavy…scary, very fast and we knew we had to really, really bring it for that reason

PB – Certainly when I chose the play..I had seen the class had done mostly movement-based theatre, which is terrific but only a small component of what goes on in Theatre.  So that was one of my decisions to bring in a fairly text-heavy show…not just text, but there’s no long monologues, it’s all one line right on top of another, which is the biggest challenge for the newcomers, to try and find that pattern that goes together almost like cogs.

Victoria Luloff – The new and exciting part for me was, because it is so text heavy and because of the way the lines fall into each other and the way it’s written as a farce, it’s really easy to see the characters’ archetypes.  Pierre has been fantastic in helping us find the real depth that all of those characters really do have…none of them are just one-sided, there’s so much to them. But part of the challenge of a farce, because it’s so fast paced and so funny, is to find those little nuggets and gems and little bits and places where you have the opportunity to show a different side of your character, and pinpointing the right one has been an exciting challenge.

Nick Fournier – I personally am very excited to be working with a group of graduated actors, and it’s very interesting coming, as a new cast member, into a show that’s already been created and formed.  It’s really interesting trying to find my place in an established show as a new gear in the machine

Jonah Allingham – I personally love the energy of this show.  Because not only is it so fast-paced, but it’s all one-liners: joke-joke-joke-joke-joke-satire…it’s very snappy, and I really like that about the piece.  I find that it’s got a very different energy about it than the other two shows we did this year (which were also wonderful shows) and it’s just a totally different breath of fresh air.  It’s cool.

VL – I think it’s been nice to hear the audience laugh.  They had a very different tone to them, the other two plays we did (note: IN THE EYES OF STONE DOGS and WE WANT LIFE), so it’s been nice to hear them laugh.

JA – Well, when we were working with Andy (Massingham) and we still didn’t know what our third project was gonna be, Andy said ‘Well, you’re doing two tragedies, so I really hope it’s a comedy for you guys’.

PB – One of the challenges with doing any kind of comedy is you have to be very serious about what you’re saying.  That’s where the comedy results, it comes from that person believing what they’re saying.  So even when you’re watching stand-up you’ll watch someone say a joke, and they’re not saying it AS a joke, they’re saying it as real as possible.  And the more they believe it, the funnier it actually is.

Dyna Ibrahim, Victoria Luloff and Drew Moore in THE SUICIDE

DM – Pierre taught us that the line between comedy and drama is pretty much the same thing, and that’s when it became a lot clearer to me.  When I thought, personally, I’m not going to look at it like a satire, I’m in a tragedy!  It’s funny how I started getting more laughs when I turned that way more.

V – How do you think the themes in the play resonate today (if at all)?

VL – I don’t follow politics closely enough to make any huge observations on this, but I know there’s definitely some  interesting political air going through Canada right now, and so I think so much comedy can be found in that.  One of Semyon’s lines is ‘I don’t believe in factories, I believe in people’.  Some of what’s going on right now is people aren’t being looked at by the government as people, they’re being shifted around to see where the money can be made.  People are now unemployed, not at all unlike Semyon (Drew’s character in the show, and the protagonist of the play).  It does resonate a little bit.

PB – I think there’s a great mirror in that Semyon is an unemployed, unemployable man and that resonance has really sparked in the just the last couple of weeks with changes to EI and demands of what you are supposed to do now.  And I think really the marginalization of the unemployed.  On that theme, on that level, it works.  The fact that it is virtually unheard of to try and  question the government, for fear, that is part of the basis of this play…our feelings about the present government in general.  And Semyon does have some wonderful lines, for example he says ‘I don’t believe in a factory of slogans’ and that kind of is what we’ve become in many ways, even in our ‘Twitterverse’.  Very often it’s a very quick slogan, a status update…these are our lives now.  They don’t extend for a long period of time.  That’s one of the beauties, and I think resonances of this play.

THE SUICIDE plays at Cafe Alt in the Ottawa Fringe Festival from June 14th to the 24th.   Check the Festival Website for showtimes, map and prices.  Then check back tomorrow for yet another Fringe Interview!