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Posts Tagged ‘lewis caunter’

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)

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.