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Posts Tagged ‘morro & Jasp’

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’.

 

SubDevision 2013!

In Magnetic North, Theatre on June 13, 2013 at 10:43 am

It’s back!  Oh thank Batman and everything that’s good in the world, SUBDEVISION is back!  And this time around, it’s part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival.  Or as I like to think of it, this year Magnetic North is part of SubDevision.

If y’all missed this brilliant theatrical event last year, first of all, I’m so, so sorry.  Second of all, here’s my late-night rambling writeup of the event, that took place in St.Paul’s Eastern United church in Sandy Hill.  This year they’ve relocated to venerable Arts Court herself, but don’t imagine they’re cheating and actually using any of the theatre spaces for the shows, oh no.  SubDevision is a collective evening of microburst theatre, this year featuring ten different companies creating short, site-specific works in various nooks and crannies of the wonderful Arts Court, never used as effectively as it will be during the three days duration of this mini-festival-within-a-festival.  Shows start at 7 pm, with club SAW as the central meeting point where you shove and jostle your way through the throngs to sign up for the sometimes VERY limited-seating performances (Pro Tip #1: find out early which signups are where…check your program and match the numbers to the helpful volunteers with clipboards!).  Unlike last year, I didn’t manage to catch everything in one evening this time around, but what I did see made life worth living again.  Pardon if the following ‘reviews’ are somewhat light on content, but spoiling the experience is WAY too easy when talking about shows as short as this.  You’ll thank me later.

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First up was one of the many returning companies, Skeleton Key Theatre and THE CURATOR (Pro Tip #2: sign up quick as you can for this, the smallest audience show of the evening!), featuring Kate Smith with Karen Balcome, and taking place in a stairwell.  Kate is just heartbreaking in this one, and it’s the first of many somewhat interactive shows of the night (nothing scary, I promise).  Ignore the ambient noise and any random people on the stairs…it does happen…and just enjoy a wonderful performance in a terribly sweet, slightly oddball show.

Next was a visit to the kitchen with May Can Theatre and IT’S ABOUT OUR GOLDFISH, a show that requires a little bit of blind faith in performers Madeleine Boyes-Manseau, Tony Adams and Cory Thibert, but that trust WILL be rewarded, I promise.  Maybe the best creative use of the space that I saw that night, and another heart-soaring show the likes of which you simply cannot experience sitting in a seat and watching from afar.  This one has a small audience too, folks, so plan wisely.

And keep your eye on the Goldfish.

And keep your eye on the Goldfish.

After that, one I’d been especially looking forward to…MORRO AND JASP: LOST AND FOUND.  Ottawa has desperately needed a visit from Toronto’s celebrated clown duo Morro and Jasp for some time now, and they don’t disappoint for a moment with their supply closet rendition of what they describe as the best play that ever was.  It just may be.

Jasp and Morro, of MORRO AND JASP.

Jasp and Morro, of MORRO AND JASP.

Next (I think…everything was moving so fast and furious my memories might be a little confuzzled on which show came when.  Nancy, am I getting this right??) we were guided along to Gruppo Rubato’s SEEDS.  Co-star Nick Alain leads you through Arts Court (Pro Tip #3: rest when you can, because there’s plenty of standing and walking involved in SubDevision, and Arts Court is bigger than you think..!) to a wee tucked-away room where Tania Levy awaits, telling lovely, but somewhat dark tales about apples, and spiders, and a few riddles for good measure.  Beautiful stuff, and an amazing souvenir.

Then came some new players for me, Fixt Point and Suitcase in Point with STOR(Y)AGE.  A show incorporating technology, nostalgia, and a good hearty climb up to the attic for a wonderful experience with a wonderful performer (I’m honestly not sure what her name is right now).  There should be more shows in attics.

Getting hungry and tired at this point, but still enough energy for a couple more shows. Which was good, because you’ll want a little energy for AGENDA by Cathy Gordon.  With some help from her hard-working assistants, Cathy runs the Boardroom at Arts Court in an emergency meeting that you’d better be prepared for, or else..! (Pro Tip #4: no, really.)  High octane interactive fun.

Do NOT waste this woman's time.

Do NOT waste this woman’s time.

My last show for the evening was an utter delight, MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE BOX from Deluxe Hot Sauce.  Taking place in the front kiosk, this jolly Christmas vignette from Kristina Watt, Doreen Taylor-Claxton, Annie Lefebvre and Sarah Finn has such a sneaky, subversive bent to it coupled with oodles of talent and ingenuity…impossible to describe, but unthinkable to miss (Pro Tip #5: jockey for position on this one…you WILL want as head-on a view as possible).

That was just about enough incredible, unmissable theatre for me for one night (well, not really, but I WAS pretty hungry).  Stick around the Festival bar after the show for a sweet afterparty, drinks and hot dogs until good’n’late.  SubDevision might have actually raised the bar from last year, which is impressive as HELL.  I’m already making plans to return tonight to visit the shows I missed.  Ottawa Stilt Union, Counterpoint Players, STO Union…I’m comin’ for ya!!  Until then…peace, love and soul,

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Coming Up in June 2013

In Theatre on June 4, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Right!  June is here, and it’s more Festival-tastic than EVER!  I’m a few days late with this post (that Nick Wade fundraiser party was a success, but also a touch time-consuming) so let’s dive right on in!

STEEL MAGNOLIAS at the Ottawa Little Theatre.  A pretty terrific production, now 100% Julia Roberts free!  Running until the 15th.

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CAROUSEL at Centrepointe Theatre, from Orpheus Musical Society.  The classic musical from the Orpheus gang, until the 9th.

LIKE WOLVES at the Great Canadian Theatre Company.  A World premiere to finish off the season, from playwright Rosa LaBorde.  Preveiws start the 4th, runs until the 23rd.

FREUD’S LAST SESSION at Dominion Chalmers United Church (355 Cooper), from 9th Hour Theatre.  One more chance to see 9th Hour’s latest, featuring Freud vs.CS Lewis!  Thursday the 6th at 8pm.

THE MOST EXCELLENT QUIXOTIC OOPS HOTEL at Shenkman Centre, from Orleans Young Players.  A crazy sounding piece of Canadian fun from the OYP kids.  Plays the 7th at 730, 8th at 230 and 730.

And that’s about it…except for the, oh, three or four festivals ALSO playing this month. Starting with…

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          MAGNETIC NORTH

A BRIMFUL OF ASHA at Academic Hall. “Ravi and his mother Asha, who play themselves, bring their real-life story of a mother’s dream and a son’s desire to follow his own path.” The 8th to 10th.

FOR THE PLEASURE OF SEEING HER AGAIN at NAC Theatre.   “…a loving portrait, a midlife Valentine’s card from playwright Michel Tremblay to his late mother, who died of cancer before he rose to prominence. Starring Lorne Cardinal and Margo Kane.” The 7th to 11th.

THE WAR OF 1812 at Arts Court Theatre.  “It’s a two hundred year old war story, but VideoCabaret’s presentation of The War of 1812 is fresh and feisty.” 7th to 15th.

THE GOD THAT COMES at NAC Studio. Yes, the Hawksley Workman show! “Four nights of wine-soaked hedonistic revelry mixed with theatre mixed with rock-and-roll.”  The 8th to 11th.

PETER AND VALERIE at 268 Carruthers st.  “You are invited to Peter and Valerie’s Ottawa home to honour the memory of Frank, Valerie’s childhood friend.  But is that all he was?”  8th to 15th, all but sold out as I write this!

WINNERS AND LOSERS at Academic Hall.  “James Long admits that Winners and Losers is a result of boredom.  The result, though, is anything but.”  The 11th to 15th.

morrojaspsubdevision
          SUBDEVISION

The festival WITHIN a festival, the wonderful SubDevision returns for its second year, this time teaming up with MagNorth to take over Arts Court for three days of wildly inventive, short but sweet theatrical tapas.  Featuring returning companies Deluxe Hot Sauce, May Can Theatre, STO Union, Counterpoint Players, Skeleton Key, Ottawa Stilt Union and Gruppo Rubato, now joined by artist Cathy Gordon, Fixt Point and Suitcase in Point, and U.N.I.T production’s Morro and Jasp.  MORRO AND JASP for flip’s sake!!!  Do not miss this.  From the 12th to 14th, I believe centering around the Festival bar in SAW gallery (have some Clocktower brews while you’re there!)

photo: Karl Claude

photo: Karl Claude

          OTTAWA FRINGE FESTIVAL

It’s here at last!!  More on this in another post (assuming I find the time to write it), but featuring returning fav’rits like May Can Theatre, Martin Dockery, Jeff Leard, Kurt Fitzpatrick, Nancy Kenny, Dead Unicorn Ink, Monster Theatre and more!  Oh, and a new show called THE TRAGICALL HISTORIE OF NICK WADE (and other fuck-ups) featuring among other things…me.

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          ONE NIGHT ONLY

This incredible summer-long series of performances at the Gladstone Theatre kicks off on the 20th, and this month features a variety of musical acts, Suzart’s NUNSENSE JAMBOREE, PRIVATE THOUGHTS from Just Kiddin’, and a smut-tastic double bill from Cameryn Moore herself!!  See The List for all the details!
          THEATRE FRANCAIS

LA PORTEUSE DE PAIN at Theatre de L’Ile.  Godd stuff from the sweet island theatre, until the 22nd.

LE TRAITEMENT at Studio 311 (135 rue Seraphin-Marion, over Studio Leonard-Beaulne).  Limited seating for this show, so book tickets fast!  From the 5th to 8th.

All for now…got miles to go and lots of stuff to do and see and write about!  Let me know what I missed, and keep bugging me for more stuff, or I’ll never get it all done.  Peace, love and soul.

Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)

Toronto Fringe 2012 – Part Two of Two

In Fringe Fest, Theatre on July 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Right!  I slept, I went back to work, and now I’m home and ready to put a cap on my recap of my mini-adventure voyage to the TORONTO FRINGE FESTIVAL.  And while I’m sad it’s over (not to mention the fact this was my first ever trip to TO that didn’t involve me hitting up one of my fav’rit places ever, Sneaky Dee’s, sigh), I’m glad I got to see and hang out with so many swell and wunnerful folks.  Thanks for making it a fun trip, y’all…not lemme get on with getting on, and yammering excitedly about the rest of the shows I saw!

OF MICE AND MORRO AND JASP by Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee (and John Steinbeck, a little) at Tarragon Main.  The clown duo of Morro and Jasp are quickly becoming bonafide Canadian starlets, what with winning Dora awards and what not, so I thought I’d best see what the fuss was all about.  I started to figure it out as soon as I saw the rabbits.  This particular adventure has our heroines putting on Steinbeck’s legendarily unfunny masterpiece in a desperate attempt to earn themselves some moolah.  What follows, from the opening suitcase gag (which I was happily seated right in front of) through to the perfect, hysterical and somehow incredibly moving finale, is the answer to M&J’s popularity in 60 minutes.  Heather and Amy have created a comic team that is just about impossible to dislike…they’re so at ease in their clown personas it’s kind of hard to remind yourself ( or convince yourself) that they even ARE personas.  I’d pay good money to see them on a stage with Ottawa’s own clown team supreme, Pommes and ‘Restes.  Maybe next year..?  Ottawa would love you, Morro and Jasp, I know I do.

ZACK ADAMS: A COMPLETE HISTORY OF ZACK ADAMS by Shane Adamczak, at Tarragon Solo Room.  Speaking of personas, I find it’s getting harder and harder for me to think of good Aussie lad Shane Adamczak as Shane, and NOT as his  onstage alter-ego Zack Adams, who I’ve seen and mightily enjoyed in two Fringe shows now.  This one follows our hard-luck but always hopeful hero Zack from an awkward childhood dreaming of being a star, to an even more awkward adulthood, still dreaming away.  A few songs, a few bees, and a whole lot of charm and energy power this gem of a show with ease, and will have you smiling even if you never have before.  Worth admission for ‘the song of outrageous lies’ all by itself.

BAD CONNECTIONS by Michael Levesque, at St.Vlad’s.  Starring the fantastically talented Paul Cosentino, CONNECTIONS tells a winding story through the lives of multiple New Yorkers, most of whom are engaged in one deception or another…though which end of the lie they’re on is part of the puzzle.  A very human tale about some extremely memorable characters, and Cosentino is clearly in his element, making quick and mostly seamless transitions from frustrated Jewish wife to Yoga guru, despised Italian great-grandfather to pregnant young black woman, and many more.  It’s a treat to watch him perform, and the story hits home in all sorts of ways (and doubtless, in different ways to different people).  I’m getting pretty giddy with how many great performers I’m being introduced to at this Fringe.

THE FIRST CANADIAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES by Jem Rolls, at St.Vlad’s Theatre.  Yes, a play by THAT Jem Rolls (more on him in a minute), starring Priscilla Yakielashek as Kimberly White-White, graduate of both Preston Manning AND Sarah Palin colleges, and President of the US in the year 2084.  For an Englishman, Jem clearly has a better grasp on Canuck and Yankee politics than mos of US do, and he’s crafter a  wicked satire on the collapse of the economy, civil rights and privacy.  His script is more than matched by Yakeilashek’s unerring performance as the striking but dim pres, who often has to slowly sound out the bigger words in the speech she’s been given.  It’s a crafty gem (get it?) of a show that should get even the mildest politicos thinking…and any fans of good acting grinning.

 

JEM ROLLS: TEN STARTS AND AN END by Jem Rolls, at the George Ignatieff Theatre.   If you’ve seen a Jem Rolls show before (one of his solo shows, that is), you’ll have a basic idea of what to expect.  If not, brace yourself, because you’re about to get punched in the face by WORDS!  Jem’s unique brand of performance poetry careens full tilt straight at you (and occasionally sideways when you’re not looking) with only the occasional blackout for respite.  Don’t worry, though, Jem’s a friendly sort despite all the bluster, and this show features a few of his kinder odes, to both Toronto and a village in Scotland (plus a hilarious rant on drunken louts titled ‘Here comes the Hammer Gang’).  A nice assortment of Jem gold in this show, and it will certainly please any of his fans, and should make him a few new ones to boot.

 

IN/SIDE THE BOX by Sinead Cormack, at the Helen Gardiner Playhouse. Ostensibly a play about the ways in which we try and make ourselves conform, I find it’s best (from my dull-witted perspective, at least) to try and ‘feel’ a physical/dance piece like this one rather than think it, because quite frankly, thinking is not my strong suit.  But this one-woman ensemble dance piece (trust me) is an utter delight to behold, as the dangerously talented Cormack creates her own set before your eyes, dances with partners who aren’t there, occasionally defies gravity and even makes a snack break entertaining.  The fact that she manages this beauty of a physical performance with a smile on her face is icing on the cake.  I was hoping to get at least one cool as fuck dance piece in on this Fringe your, and now I’ve got it.  I also may have found my Toronto Fringe-Crush, which is also swell.

That was all I managed to squeak in on my whirlwind three-day Toronto tour, and my apologies to all for getting these reviews up so late in the game!  Although plenty of these shows are continuing on tour across the Canadian Fringe circuit…if you see some of them in Winnipeg, Edmonton, or realms beyond, give’em a try!  And tell them the Visitor sent ya.  Thanks for the funs, TO…and thanks too for the copy of 1st issue special from 1975, featuring Jack Kirby’s DINGBATS OF DANGER STREET, which I found at the Silver Snail on Queen.  That was a nice touch.

Somebody should really make a Fringe show out of this. For serious.

Peace, love and soul, Fringers,

The Visitor