I've gone to so many shows in the last few years (thanks to my girlfriend), that I can't keep track of them all. There isn't enough time to always write a review or summary, but at least I want to keep a record of what I've been doing. Spoiler alert - I'll often describe the ending of the play. But then I think that the definition of a really good play is one which is worth seeing twice.
Prices are for one person and include taxes and tips in Canadian dollars. The Table of Contents is at the bottom.
An entertaining Brett Kelly musical show, perhaps a sequel to Mary Poppins. The character names are the original names, yet it seems Mr. Banks remembers the original Mary Poppins as his nanny. Anyway, the parents are spoiling the children and things are getting out of control.
The show starts with the discovery of bound and gagged house staff, trying to get untied. The butler has to hop over to the door to let in the policeman with the renegade children in tow. Of course, George Banks and his wife fail to do anything, George because taking care of children isn't his domain. The nanny can't take it any more and quits, with a song (playfully censored) explaining her annoyances. A new nanny must be found.
The children write their own advertisement, and after a bit of mesmerism during interviews, Scary Poppins makes Mr. Banks hire her, while the other candidates are scared off, including one otherwise very persistent one who vows revenge. That leads to a second plot thread, good vs bad nanny (which one is good?), as well as the main children's development story.
Several scenes ensue, somewhat following the original Mary Poppins story, but warped. Memorable ones are the children's toy collection coming to life to scare them into tidying up. There's an exorcism later on, where the holy water burns, because it's from the Ottawa river. An Ouija board starts spelling out a word that starts with "Super", but they don't have time to finish it. Scary vanishes magically when in trouble. There's a marvelous soup making performance by the kitchen equipment (turns out nobody knows how to cook when the maid is missing so they have to use magic). And of course lots of songs.
Most things were pretty good; good lighting, good costumes, good acting, good singing. The main letdown was the too simplistic set. It did support all the props and stage magic, but was a bit sparse and the toy box inside was unpainted. But making a more lush set is expensive to fix. The show's pace was slightly slow in places, maybe because it was targeted for children, but understandable since it would take more rehearsal time to make things more snappy. So, an enjoyable evening, though you'll have to imagine extra detail for some of the scenes unless Brett somehow gets Disney level funding to do a remount. Wouldn't mind seeing it again in a year or two.
A rocking musical, featuring wigs, a live band and a story of varied love.
Didn't know Tim Oberholzer had such a wide acting range (and singing).
Enjoyable, featuring tomatoes.
Long topical and localised rant (lots of research there) as she came down
the theatre stairs. Memorable joke was who gets saved if a boat with
politicians X, Y, Z sinks? Canada! Was story of her life (similar to her
real life in places), hunting down her lost baby (with a bonus bit of Expo
67). Projected pictures, a few props and Mary Walsh. Funny and
Set in a retirment home, a daughter visits her mom and a son moves in his dad. The elders meet and vaguely remember a week of romance during World War II, broken up by the guy's departure. They fall in love again as senior citizens. But how real was that long ago interruption when the man was assigned to Hong Kong and long subsequent imprisonment? That was a story the son told at parties. The old guy says he had a behind the lines job of doing code breaking, which contradicts being in prison the whole war. Maybe one of those is a false memory. Memory and it's failings are a big topic in this play (there's even a Turing test (son is a scientist) where the AI fails by remembering too well). Anyway, the old guy was able to escape from the secure wing (there's a door code) to visit his love, who definitely has her own memory problems. But just like before, he was torn away from her by the authorities.
It was nice seeing Barry Daley again as the reverend not quite suited for
the job of death, puzzling out the meaning of the soul in arguments with the
code breaker's scientific son. Susan Monaghan played nurse Tammy
particularly well. When being told about the important foibles of a new
patient by the patient's child, and politely not saying anything, I could see
her thinking that the urgently communicated details were the same old things
she's heard before. Now that's acting.
Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan recount their view of events surrounding
a massacre of Taliban fighters by the Afghan army, helped by the Canadians.
There's the woman master corporal soldier who's hit upon by most of the
others, and lets them sometimes take advantage, but she also takes pity on an
Afghan family seeking help for their wounded boy (unwittingly diverting a
helicopter which could have helped the soldiers at the previously mentioned
mission). There's the sergent who's hitting on her, who should know better.
There's the private who isn't cynical enough (gets wounded by a suicide bomb
boy). And there's the gay Christian medic who's actually competent and not
broken (usually from PTSD) like the others. According to a CBC radio
interview with real soldiers who saw the play, they're more professional than
A play about menstruation. Jasp the serious girl wants it to start so she can become a woman, her light headed sister Morro is annoyed by it starting and interfering with her life and clothing. The two sisters do quite a bit of physical comedy, tampons, pads and toilets are involved. The audience is involved too - someone gets chosen to join the Menstruation Party, and embarrassingly names Steve as the boy she'd like to befriend, the same name as the favourite of Morro, leading to improvised plot complications. The climax is the big school dance (lots of makeup preparations - including the audience volunteer), which they never get to because of messy complications, but at the end sister helps sister out.
Worth seeing again because it's so funny. They're really good clowns.
A smoother production than before, giving a
more solid sports spectator experience (this time the audience did stadium
songs without coaching, and many wore fan clothing). It's the same sad story
of a woman ditching a safe but boring civil service job to become an actress
in poverty, with a neighbour dying from cancer and also missing the Gray Cup
game. The Rough Riders' last minute loss in the 2009 game was recreated well
enough to revive the agony of defeat in the hearts of several Saskatchewan
natives in the audience.
Two actors, second and third generation Japanese Canadian immigrants tell
the story of the Japanese internment during World War II. The stage starts
out littered with lots of origami paper cranes. The actors take turns
unfolding cranes, which reveal chapters of the story. It starts with growing
up in BC as kids in a sawmill town, often clusters of Japanese families stuck
together. Then there's the forced sale of their property, with the proceeds
used to build the camps they were interned in. Then there's a description of
life in the camp, which the kids enjoyed (more Japanese people around) though
there were privations such as lack of food and cold housing. Then there's a
forced dispersal after the war to points east of Alberta, breaking up the
communities (or alternatively going to Japan, which could be worse).
A one man show about grandfather getting more and more forgetful, from the grandson's point of view. A slide projector is used for Grandpa's photos, along with other items, some real (chair), some not (broken camera standing in for real one). There's also a 40 watt incandescent light bulb on a long spring loaded wire from the ceiling that the actor grabs and waves around to set some moods and do lighting effects. The slides bring up stories circa World War II (grandpa was a war photographer), including a famous one (published in Time magazine) with a secret story of how his friend died just after the photo was taken. Grandpa knows he's failing and makes a deal with the kid to have him break him out of the hospital, in exchange for telling the secret story. Grandpa decays, gets paranoid and angry (blames kid for stealing the camera when he earlier gave it as a birthday present), repetitious (telling the same story over and over) and is finally hospitalised. Breaking out doesn't go very far and he eventually dies, thus this tale.
After the show, we stuck around and had questions for the performer. No,
grandpa's name isn't mentioned. Not eating food and becoming demented is
also a common experience.
Great set (a fully stocked convenience store with fragments of exterior
walls), indeed almost (no scents) fills the playwright's wish to hold the
performance in a real convenience store. Has a happy ending where the
runaway son (disappointing after youthful promise) returns and agrees to take
over the store from his aging but tough father (Steal or No Steal customer
detection skill followed by martial arts if needed). Daughter finds a mate
(childhood crush now a cop), forced on her a bit by the father (some arm
twisting was literally involved). Korean hatred of Japanese revealed by
history knowledge test for son and calling the cops for cars made in Japan
when they're in the no parking area. Great performances and characters,
shows the cultural background of Korean immigrants to Toronto quite
Adicted young couple who can't keep their story straight become friends
with better off but still unimployed neighbours. Things are going well,
seeming like normal life with oddities (broken leg on partly finished porch,
girl scout fantasy camping trip that ends badly), until a drunken party where
they all stupidly burn down a house. Set is a pair of back yards, with
patios and furniture in one, tires and a concrete block fire area in the
other. A comment on middle class life hopes and how it can fall apart
through internal character flaws or external economic ones.
Guests visiting a senator who's shot himself (suicide maybe) come up with inconsistent stories, piled upon stories as more guests arrive. Good writing.
The usual cabaret show, with a couple of guest performers we've seen at
the Fringe and elsewhere (the woman who dates a prisoner). Feather dance
with Paul reaching through a feather wall. Sad story about volunteering for
an afternoon with someone dying from AIDs.
Reclusive chicken farmer guy brought back to life by his neighbours
(including a new female school teacher potential love interest) and his dead
brother's ghost. Sweet.
As good as ever, they're older (Paul Chato looks like a wild professor
rather than a serious student in a sweater) and just as funny. They mixed
some classics (the dirty words guy etc) with some new skits, including a few
topical ones. Like the party where the host has to put the snack plates down
without getting near the guests (he's got some disease) and the other guests
all are leary of each other. But eventually they get along, the white
supremicist, the pedophile priest, except for one guy in the corner. Turns
out he's Rob Ford.
This time I noticed more of the university academic's development, as she
meets women from Shakespeare's plays and interferes with the normally tragic
endings, unleashing more than usual gender swapping confusion. Eventually
she figures out that she's the wise fool that would be needed to change the
tragedy into comedy.
Three sisters run a church Christmas pageant in Texas. Lots of things go
wrong, with silly results in recasting. There's the kidney stone pain
inflicted Santa Claus. Jailed relatives. A TV crew filming the disaster.
Mistakes happen in real life too, when one of their sets dropped on a bowl of
munchies and crushed it, leaving crumbs on the stage. After a slow start,
the writing crazyness makes it interesting by the end.
Good. Southern Belle forsakes easy social life for Harvard law school to
follow her beau (who dumped her for someone more serious). After some
failures, does the study time, makes friends and becomes a lawyer, trumping a
A radio show recreating the studio setting during a live radio broadcast.
Zach Counsil did a good Orson Wells. Surprised to hear Laurence Wall
announcing the weather and time, just like he does on CBC radio.
A schoolyard social study from the point of view of an immigrant girl from
Iceland in Edinburgh. Her childhood friend in the same building has an even
worse life with poverty and abuse. Learning Scottish myths about murderious
clans and being bullied at school are memorable portions. Good character
switching by the solo actress/playwright Maja Ardal.
Very twisty plot about a waiter holding a rich woman hostage, blackmailing
her with a camera initially. Then looking for an expensive jewel. Then the
tables are turned, repeatedly. People die, or seem to.
Just dialog with two actors.
Three actors with lots of quick changes (sometimes just a hat), shadow
puppets behind a small walled area. They switch between puppet and real
players, sometimes too frequently on silly purpose (when one actor has
several of their characters talking to each other). Enjoyable family
Plenty of fast dialogue (this is a relatively long show - today it would
have more plot points for that much talking). Steve Martin is notable for
his expressive face. Fun set change with Martin and partner dancing and
moving things around while a third actress sings. Live piano playing by
Whiteley, but canned phonograph record playing. Good fight scenes with the
couples breaking up, after their tactic of using a safe word to trigger a
cooling off time while arguing finally fails.
It starts with the prime minister addressing the landslide (like the NDP recently in Quebec) crowd of new members of parliament (that's us, the audience) with instructions to talk to nobody, always ask the PM (the hub in the wheel - we're spokes). While arranging the seating plan for the house of commons, a new MP upsets the PM with her unrespectful attitude (asking for permission to have sex with a reporter), and the PM tries to fire her. However, her nomination papers were signed by the party while she was out of the country (an illegality), so she's allowed to stay. Since she's on the fringe, and willing, she gets the task of press distracter, bringing up a private members bill against abortion (even though she's had one). I enjoyed the subsequent political fun (perhaps because it may be true) and got the impression that the people behind it are actually quite smart (helped by actor/playwright Michael Healey's portrayal of the PM). They argue about beliefs vs feelings as motivation for political life (boils down to self belief) and we find out that the whole show is just a performance to cover the PM's true goal of shrinking government by 15% (he's an economist and figures that would make things optimal for the future of the country).
Lots of fun, I quite enjoyed it, worth seeing again right away!
A funny tale of a couple who lose their jobs and make their own
pornographic video. Fate decides it when a singing telegram delivery girl
gets fired while at their place. The husband's old friend is a TV cameraman
who also has been fired recently. Now all they need is the guy for the
video. They have interviews for the male star, and fate again sends them the
cameraman's bookie; the softly mannered son of a real tough bet taker. Good
job casting Kenny Hayes in that role, or maybe it's good acting. One
innovation is that the husband is also the narrator, talking to the audience
and explaining the action then jumping into the scene. He does censor the F
word in his retelling of the story, which makes the characters in the scene
stop saying that word (as if their mouths malfunctioned), and they know it,
which makes them puzzled. Enjoyably funny, worth seeing again in a year or
Frantic action in front and behind the stage, but not quite as magical
(slower timing) as the Gladstone production in 2009 (which had Steve Martin's
antics to spice it up).
My favourites (ones which I wouldn't be ashamed to recommend to friends, in order of most fun first) currently are:
Here are the ones we've actually seen, out of the whole 54 (apparently it's now impossible to see them all due to schedule overlaps). You can find other people's reviews of them at http://apt613.ca/fully-fringed-2013 or http://apt613.ca/category/fullyfringed/. Hmmm, out of time, there are another 30 or 40 I went to see but didn't have time to write up (I've got the notebooks with details).
And now it is time for the next chapter of The Zombie Chronicles, explaining the history of zombies since the 1942 Zombie Walk, WWII zombie fighters against the Nazis, the 1946 civil rights. This episode is the story about a Private Investigator, well played in hard boiled classic PI fashion by Ray Besharah. He hates zombies, like the ones trying to wallpaper his office and getting it wrong (paper over the windows, files). Dumb zombies. Cheap labour. Yes, there are 11 zombies on stage, wallpapering slowly. I saw the actors preparing earlier on the steps of Tabaret Hall with several picnic cooler sized boxes of makeup. Here they also react to the insults about zombies with growls, stupid comments by the main characters with Huhs, and in general do an enjoyable Greek chorus job. And they hint at the set, wallpapering the room with their bodies.
The girl comes in, with a basket full of food items and sexual double entendres. Pig in a blanket? Spotted dick? Anyway, the plot point is that several zombies have been killed recently. Since they have rights (there's an advertisement scene in the middle of the play that tells zombies to go and register to get their rights - sort of like American voters).
The PI meets up with Zelda the Zombie Slayer at a restaurant with useless zombie staff. She's been mauled by zombies, her face disfigured (she wears a veil) and arm amputated to stop the zombie poison. A veterinarian replaced the arm with a dachshund. Was she the murderer? Nope, she was out of the country killing zombies.
Did you share a needle with a zombie? A public service announcement reveals that one drop of zombie blood is enough to poison a Human.
The suspicion next falls to someone imitating the zombie slayer's style. Who is her biggest fan? Could be Monica Glass, the glass harmonica player.
I can't believe it's not brains - advertisement for zombie food.
They go to Club Voodoo, a floating venue, and track down Monica (with side silliness from the detective's novice police helper, who's also the boat captain when he adds a moustache, which falls off a lot). A trail of dog droppings leads them to Zelda and her daughter. Potatoes are exchanged (they've been appearing throughout the play). Monica is the stage name for Zelda's daughter. They fight, Zelda wins. And now it's time for our feature presentation (theatre goes dark, something like Fox movie studio film theme music plays).
Good children's stories with excellent production values. Mystifying
Of course, Dockery does more than this trip, describing his other LSD related experiences, history including the '60s Haight-Ashbury hippies Summer of Love, his road trip to Switzerland, the recursive Epcot centres, and a big party he stumbled into in India.
Enjoyable story telling.
Great stuff, if you don't mind getting involved.
A story of retirement. Controlling old husband takes wife to a hotel,
which is actually a retirement home trial visit. Fortunately, they have good
medical services there for his heart attack. One daughter falls in love with
the retirement home salesman (a bad guy who runs off at the end without her).
The other daughter dropped in briefly (always busy with charitable work in
Africa) with her Russian boyfriend. Controlled wife wants to break free and
has ideas of travelling, but can't be decisive.
Southern US women from the upper classes gossip at a hair salon. One of
the younger ones gets married, wishing for a baby, though it's medically
dangerious (diabetes) for her. She does risk it, but then needs a kidney
transplant. Her mom gives her yet more, but with no success. The place and
characters are a big part of this play, like the old lady who hates
Musical about a low life carnival barker and the factory girl who falls
for him. Both fall on hard times, there's some beating, he goes on a stupid
robbery (listening to the wrong people) and gets caught, suicides. Then as a
ghost, tries to help his wife. The other path is shown by a different
factory girl who marries an ambitious fisherman, ending up with a wealthy and
very large family, strictly controlled by the husband.
A mix of morals and passion for sexual stimulation, strangely
disconnected. The doctor treats women for hysteria (they become much more
relaxed afterward) with an electrical device that vibrates. The women
eventually connect the treatment with sex when the wet nurse for the doctor's
wife listens to their descriptions of what it feels like and joins the dots.
There's also the male artist who's painting the nurse (he gets treatment from
an odd device), and the husbands who aren't satisfying their wives. Really
good set, with a diagonal arrangment of waiting room parlour on the right,
and examining room on the left, and electric lights!
An interesting play, written by an oppressed Iranian, performed by an actor who hasn't read the script or seen the play. Gives you insight into how people go along with evil. The rabbit is a reference to the psychology experiment where the group is punished if one of them reaches for the reward. Eventually the group acts to prevent anyone from reaching for the reward. That behaviour is learned by new group members, so you can replace the group gradually with totally new members and they'll still attack anyone reaching for the reward. The behaviour is persistent, they still do it even if the punishment is no longer done. The rest of the play around that key point told about life in Iran and wishes for freedom.
Joël Beddows from the U of Ottawa theatre department was our actor
for the night. The audience was called upon to perform too, by number (such
as reenacting the rabbit scenario - I was part of that). He did a good job,
until the end where he was replaced by one of the audience members (with a
really good reading voice) while he died after drinking the maybe poisoned
The first half was a musical rendering of basic training for Mormon
missionaries, done in extreme detail. It starts with the door bell ringing
song, with "elders" chiming in until there's a chorus of about a dozen. Then
there's the assigning of partners and locations. The fat kid who can't get
it right is paired with the model student, and sent to Africa. We also have
flashbacks to Joseph Smith getting the tablets, angels with messages, and
earlier races which have vanished from North America. In the second half, it
gets interesting, not just merely stretching out basic training. There's the
Turn it Off like a Light Switch song about the Mormon trick of
supressing unwanted thoughts. Nobody has any recruits or baptisms. The fat
kid appeals to the locals and ends up stretching a few Mormon tales to fit
the circumstances. Things like having sex with babies to avert AIDS disease
aren't in the manual, so he invents a few items and reuses some people and
things and ends up with frogs becoming the anti-AIDS creature (possibly
endorsed by Darth Vader). Such silliness contrasts with the real book of
Mormon, and ends with the idea that his new stories and new variety of church
are possibly the next (fourth) revelation from God, and are actually helping
people (or at least finding recruits for the new religion).
The best thing about this show is the set design. Projection of multiple images onto the walkway at the back of the set (raised on poles, with assorted rectangular black mesh screens) showed modern and old photos, sky images, and red velvet Carnegie hall interiors. Many of the photos came from Edward Curtis' collected ethnographic information (funded over many years by a handful of wealthy American patrons), used in a series of books on The North American Indian. One point worth remembering that comes across in the play and his books is that there are many Indian nations (close to hundreds), each with different languages.
The story was a dual plot of modern day aboriginal life of a bipolar woman
(sister is a successful psychiatrist), cut with a biography of Curtis
(seducing Indians with bacon and eggs, taking photos, losing his neglected
wife and children). The overall theme seems to be about the trouble of being
stuck part way between native culture and western culture.
Absurd surrealistic writing from pre-WWII Germany's Kurt Schwitters. In the first half, actor Peter Froehlich (who maintains a good German accent all the way through) does a few MERZ pieces and a biography of Schwitters (which includes a stamp of disapproval from the Nazis). The most memorable of those is the story of the man who stands. He's just standing there, and the various people in reversed Hanover (starting with a child) talk about him, but he never answers. A crowd gathers and things start to get ugly, possibly a revolution starts. The story also gets chopped up and repeated, with a smooth segue into the loop (sounds just like an old man telling the next chapter of a story, except it's the first chapter). In modern times, that may be more familiar with the easy availability of digital editing; back in the 1920s it would be quite novel.
The second half is the Ursonate sound poem, almost an hour long of words without language. However, it does reveal that the audience likes to laugh when surprised by a sudden change, such as when after several sentences of pho bo bo ah, you get a pho bo bo ca? There's a lot of repetition, which gives people time to learn a nonsense phrase, and thus the surprise when it is changed. There's also recognition when it shows up much later in the performance. There's one section that sound like someone training someone else to pronounce a word, with the word said forcefully followed by many incorrect attempts to say it. There's also a lot of body language and emotional overtones to give the meaningless words meaning. Besides the hand timing movements (like a conductor of an orchestra), facial expressions sometimes get driven by the sound, such as a series of wa-words with ever opening mouth on each iteration leads to the appearance of a smile just because of the physical geometry of saying those sounds. One big surprise (drawing much laughter) was when he reversed direction in the text he was reading from a score on a music stand, flipping over pages in reverse order.
Worth seeing once in your life, but with a live audience so you can see
how people react.
An interesting approach of using other scientifically inclined women from history to explore the story of Marie Curie. They find themselves in Madame Curie's old lab, with radioactive items still glowing (nice trick using blue frontlighting to make glowing jars of liquids). In particular, her radioactive notebooks and other paper are scattered all over the stage, some suspended from the ceiling like flying birds. Hypatia of Alexandria (around 400), Ada countess of Lovelace (1800s) and Rosalind Franklin (1950s) also reveal a bit about their own histories as they poke around the notebooks. Additionally the ghosts of the Radium Girls haunt the stage, blaming Marie Curie for their deaths. As the notes are read, actors portraying Madame Curie and her husband Pierre recreate parts of her story. They pause while the historical scientists discuss what happened and their views of similar things, and their experiences of being women with an interest in science.
Besides a solid Madame Curie performance (strong minded forceful short woman) by Hannah Gibson-Fraser, Ada (Alexis Scott) was particularly notable for bringing to life a Victorian romantic point of view. Hypatia unfortunately didn't do that for her background (talking style, body language, topics chosen) of Alexandrian (Greek and Roman) culture, though to be fair we don't know them as well. It also helps that Ada's costume was particularly good, based on a portrait of Ada Lovelace.
An interesting way of presenting a fair bit of educational material. I
didn't know about Madame Curie's tour of America to raise funds to buy some
A play within a play, recursively, three or four levels deep! The writing is fun and twisty, and very self referential. A writer of a really good play shows off his manuscript (with no loose copies) to a thieving older writer. That play is about a writer of a really good play... The murder you see isn't. However the final murder using the dagger the psychic saw does eventually happen. And thus it ends.
Performed well enough with a few rough dialog spots and one lighting oops.
Surprised by the surprise kiss and associated plot twist. Good timber framed
farm house set (even rafter hints up high), well decorated with weapons.
The play starts with the lower class couple, preparing for a Christmas party. Later we see the middle and then upper class kitchens during Christmas parties in later years. The set represents elements of all three kitchens. Off to the side through a door (there are three on the right) we have sounds of the party happening (the stage only shows the events in the kitchens). When the door is open (notably good timing on the audio playback), you can hear people talking and loud party laughter provided by Brian M. Carrol of Fringe Festival attendee fame (see him there every year).
The lower class wife is a cleanness freak, polishing every last thing. The husband is the smarmy English salesman type, a stereotype you may remember from Monty Python. Well played by Stewart Matthews, with a consistent matching accent, hunchbacked glad handing and a smile that shows lots of teeth. As you can guess, he browbeats his wife while supplicating to superior people (he wants a loan from the banker to expand his small business). The banker's wife praises the salesman's kitchen, but really thinks it is quite horrible. There's also the architect whom is making a fancy commercial building, and his drugged out wife (afflicted with depression) with a hippie head band. The first act ends with the wife outside in the rain, potato chips (crisps) scattered and stepped on all over the kitchen floor.
The second act is about the architect's sullen wife Eva, who is annoyed with him for wanting to leave the marriage for another woman. She doesn't speak, just scribbles suicide notes on a pad of paper. After the husband leaves, she tries to kill herself by sticking her head in the oven and running the gas. The lower class wife comes in and thinks she's having trouble keeping her kitchen clean, so she helps out by cleaning the oven. Meanwhile the drowsy Eva tries other ways of suicide, from sticking a fork in her belly to tying rope around her neck. The other people come in, lower class husband fixes the sink, upper class banker tries fixing the light (which Eva damaged while trying to hang herself). It ends in electrocution of the banker when his wife stupidly turns on the light.
The third act is about the banker who's now broke and can't afford to heat his house. Thus people gather in his kitchen around an oil heater. The architect (not doing well after his building collapsed) and Eva (somewhat recovered, prodding the architect to collect money owed from clients) are there, banker's wife is upstairs in bed. The lower class couple come around for a surprise Christmas (wearing sparkly paper cone hats), while the others try to hid in the kitchen with the lights turned out. The banker's wife comes down, sad that her life based on being beautiful isn't working out any more. The lower class couple are doing well and after handing out cheap Christmas gifts, force everybody to dance unhappily in a musical chairs party game.
There were many good moments in the play, but it wasn't as continuously
funny as a similar study of different couples in How The Other Half
Loves, written three years earlier by Alan Ayckbourn, which opened the
new Gladstone in 2008. Enjoyable entertainment, worth seeing again in a few
As good as the NAC version a few years ago, see it for story details. I'll just mention a few points I noticed in this production.
Nobody mentions the costumes in other reviews, but I'll point out that there were many of them and in good 1920's style (like the bride's red dress with string fringes - come to think of it, she was usually wearing red, maybe some sort of symbolic colour coding going on there). They also had to do some in ancient Chinese opera style (nice golden headdress). For even more variety, there was one circus dream scene where the whole cast changed costumes (theatre producer becomes ringmaster, others turn into clowns), which must have been a lot of work. It's on only briefly so I didn't have time to notice everything (apparently Kitty the wannabe show girl turned into a lion). Additionally the orchestra was also dressed up, but I only was able to see the conductor's straw hat as they were behind a dark semi-transparent curtain at the back of the stage.
Adolpho was scene chewing as scripted, with an operatic voice, purple frilly shirt and marvellous black & white hair. However, I had heard Denis Van Staalduinen in a pre-production unamplified read-through and there his singing voice is a startlingly strong, loud and operatic, standing way out from the rest of the cast. I assume they had to turn down the volume on his microphone!
The whole cast was great, doing classical things like tap dancing or even roller skating, as well as singing of course, and staying silent and stationary in mid performance when the record is paused by the man-in-chair. The weakest point was the superintendent at the end, who dropped a few words. In particular the Man in Chair by Wayne Nolan was outstanding. He has a tremendous amount of dialog to do, and carried it through perfectly. He really brought the character to life, and indirectly revealed more about himself by explaining the play and the parts he likes as it goes along. In the end, helped by a bit of drink and joining the actors on stage, we could see that he really wanted to be part of that fictitious world, rather than his "blue" life.
Lighting was also interesting. They had some lights on the stage front which low-lit the characters at times, giving them a different look than usual. But the main effect was to dazzle sparkle shiny things passing by, such as the tea trolley outfitted in reflective silver, or Trix's airplane at the end.
All in all, an entertaining evening, worth seeing again.
It starts with one pair of parents inviting another pair to talk about why their son hit the first parent's son, with a stick. The set is their stylishly sparse Ikea-ish living room, in Paris France. They start out civilized, but oddities of their lives are gradually revealed with the help of a bottle of fine rum. They almost delve into the children's fault finding point of view, but manage to avoid that slippery slope. That's the only time they behave like adults. The rest of the time one put-down, on topics from home made pastry to flowers on the table, leads to another bigger put-down.
There's a background of annoying cell phone calls for the father who is a
lawyer doing work for dishonest drug company (his phone does get dunked in
the end). The other father is thought to be cruel by some when he mentions
leaving the annoying hamster outside the front door (the mother is annoyed
but goes right back to lying about the hamster not being dead when she
explains the missing hamster to her daughter). That father also has plenty
of phone calls from his mother (later we find she's taking the suspect drug,
causing yet more ethical problems). Tension mounts, there's some stress
vomiting (maybe it was that pastry or the art books were too much of a
target) and eventually actual physical violence, mostly with other people's
objects. Oddly enjoyable, perhaps from thinking that I wouldn't stoop so
An evening of music, dancing and acrobatics, Chinese style. The orchestra was the real thing, the Broadcast National Orchestra of China, complete with dozens of players with Chinese instruments. A large chunk were two string vertical violin type instruments, another section was plucked string instruments much like guitars. Besides drums and other percussion, they also had something that looks like a bundle of square reeds and which sounds like a harmonica. No piano or bagpipes, so it isn't Western, but they did have a pipa which sounds like a bagpipe drone. It's a small tube (30cm long) with finger holes along the middle and a trumpet bell at the end. The whole group was conducted by a very enthusiastic smiling conductor on a stand in the middle, behind a table console which could be a musical instrument (hard to see, he used it in one song by hitting it with the sticks he was conducting with), with a very tall (I assume it has notes for all instruments) book of sheet music beside it.
Besides the shallow wrapper story of one of the guest MCs looking for
music for her grandmother, the entertainment was enhanced by the variety of
performances. Each one was announced and explained on the projection screens
beside the stage. Many had dancers, doing different techniques ("Volley
Float" was floating, butterflies were brought to life, etc). But there was
also a diabolo act, a magic story and a contortionist. The diabolo (spinning
hourglass shaped things tossed into the air by a string held by the acrobat)
one was notable for catching it backwards and playing with it horizontally,
almost defying gravity. The contortionist has a very flexible spine and did
what you expect, the most spectacular movement involving placing her head on
the ground and then walking around it with her feet. The magic act was a
love story between two magicians with plenty of sleight of hand and costume
changes. Many costume changes! Sitting at the side meant we were able to
see behind the scenery a bit to see how some of it was done. The music was
from different regions and subcultures of China, including some modern ones.
Quite a few pieces were enjoyably lively. The most common attribute is that
they seem to like their Er Hu two stringed staff with a resonance box
on the bottom instruments and several variations of it, which gives the songs
that Chinese sound. But then how much of a Western musical group is composed
of violins or guitars?
A decently done version of the Jane Austin book. It starts out a bit
rough (missed words) but the decent costumes and sets (several drawing rooms
with different fireplaces (rotating walls) and stage hands in servants
costumes moving furniture around) help set the historical time. The actors
populate the roles well enough, in particular the leads do a sparking good
scene when they're fighting each other.
Quite an interesting production, for the watery set. It has a fairly large wading depth pool of water at ground level, with a walkway and metal stairs up to a second floor. The second floor contains a tank with one wall being a big 2m x 2m window facing the audience and internal full width steps at the back leading up to the second floor. There are also glass xylophones (played by rubbing with something like a violin bow) and a couple of small tables with water filled wine glasses with microphones just above them. There's also a continuous 3m wide row of water drops falling from higher up into a grate in the floor. It is noticeably warm and humid at the balcony level.
The stories are Greek myths, framed by the Midas story. Only one ends
happily, with the two mortals being granted death at the same time (they turn
into trees). The rest of the myths end badly, from illegitimate son of
Apollo driving the chariot badly and burning earth, to a lost spouse at sea,
or dead wife not quite brought out of the underworld. Was nice to see Andy
Massingham demonstrating his falling down expertise, this time with a big
splash into the tank. In general, I noticed lots of gods (one for every
concept you could think of) and monogamous marriages (one story was about the
daughter who loved her father inappropriately, many others were marriage
This play is the story of the famous Canadian World War I fighter pilot William Avery Bishop. Chris Ralph does an excellent job of telling the story and being Billy Bishop (he even looks quite bit like Billy Bishop - the mustache helps). I'll also have to take him more seriously as an actor now, though I've seen him before in plays like Speed the Plow. Maybe it was the play, or the smaller venue or the acting and the live piano, but somehow this turned out to be really good. Comparable to the Eric Peterson production I'd seen at the NAC years ago (though they had better lobby items - like a shot up wooden WWI cockpit).
The story starts with his training in military college, and then enlisting in the cavalry to avoid delayed punishment for college pranks (caught lying when seen drinking and sinking in a canoe) and cheating on exams. Spending much of his time out of action due to accidents, he finally discovers the true muddiness of war. Prompted by a British soldier's comments in a pub, he gets the idea of switching to the mud free flying corps. He gets in as an observer, flying as a passenger in the scarily outmatched British airplanes of that particular season. An accident while on leave puts him in hospital again, and he gets an odd aristocratic summons by Baroness St. Helier to shape up and become a pilot. It wasn't clear how she was connected, though Wikipedia suggests it was just friendship. Strings are pulled, he gets in and turns out to be a pretty good pilot - not at flying, just the shooting down of enemies part of the job. His fellow pilot and famous British ace Albert Ball suggests doing a raid on a German aerodrome, something not done often then. Ball dies before they can try their suicide mission, leading to a good recital of The Dying of Albert Ball, which sounds like a poem written by Robert Service, though it isn't. Bishop does the stunt anyway, without assistance, in his pyjamas and successfully. As he becomes more famous, he is reined in (after drunken partying and missing dinners with important people) by his patron and told that he's become a dignitary, albeit a colonial one, something to inspire the nation. When he gets close to the leading kill count, he's asked to retire and work on motivational tours back home. He has one week before he has to leave, so he chalks up enough hits to break the record. After that, it's medals awarded by the King and a return to Canada. He's also a bit involved in WWII, setting up flight training programs, while his children joined up to fight in the air.
The Canadian War Museum contributed half a dozen reproductions of WWI
aircraft paintings, setting the tone in the lobby, along with a trunk with
several ground troop steel helmets on it. The museum also had a ticket
discount for play attendees. This is related to the audience's unusual
demographic - veterans and young people.
The audience with headphones on (to put virtual and real actors on the same audio footing) listens to the actor talk with a video representation of his old friend, a soldier who's going back to Afghanistan. It's done by projecting video onto a tabletop statue of his friend sitting at a desk, or later standing. Fortunately the friend doesn't move about too much so he normally fits the statue.
Like the fragment of
the Greek play, it's about meeting someone ten years later. It's about
soldiers re-enlisting too, with both Greek and modern soldiers having to
decide if they should go back to battle. Odysseus gives a convincing
explanation to a soldier abandonned 10 years ago (Philoctetes), after the
rookie assistant (Diomedes) forces him to talk with Philoctetes. The modern
soldier and his actor friend have a similar discussion, with initial
avoidance of talking about the reasons for returning. Recursively, the actor
also wants to make a play out of their talk, promising to use a handsome
actor to represent his soldier friend. In the real world, the play is indeed
performed for soldiers by Theatre
of War to help them understand the damage done to warriors.
Still good (was in last year's Fringe Festival). Fewer kid's shoes this
time and the actress doesn't want to eat her play-food (celery stick slugs
may be getting boring). Moving ending, makes me want to look up the song We'll Meet
Teens discover a bat boy while exploring caves and capture him, with injuries to one of their own. The bat boy is dispatched to the veterninarian for killing. However, the vet's wife has a soft spot for lost creatures and argues with her husband to keep it. Their daughter ends up liking it too, after the wife has taught bat boy how to speak and read. The bat boy goes public (against the vet's word) at the town's spiritual revival fair and speaks reasonably. However the farmers with feeble cow troubles are turned against bat boy by the death (sneakily done by the vet) of the injured girl in the hospital. They chase after bat boy, with torches even. The vet's wife and daughter hunt for bat boy in the woods, and the daughter finds the bat boy and confesses her love for him. That is shown in a wonderful scene where the stage is filled with animal puppets of all sorts, some quite fantastic. My favourite is the bird made of feathers and a beak, which is puppeteered properly by walking without foot slip. The animal scene turns into a mating scene, where we find out that the daughter has fallen in love with bat boy. More blood, death and relationship complications ensue.
The performance was entertaining, despite some rough spots in the
production quality. Nice to see Kris Joseph back again (vet, Pan the animal
god with the green furry legs that need a belt), and weird to see Zachary
Counsil with pointed ears in a bungie cord bouncy cage. But then bat boy is
supposed to be weird. Zach also did a decent job with the sound effects.
As raunchy and scary as before, with Carmen Aguirre talking about her life
as a resistance member in Chile, and about chasing the gorgeous vision man
her grandmother had sent her. Fewer people dancing on stage this time due to
the bigger theatre and older demographics. At the end the vision man isn't
interested in her (while her first husband still is but she isn't interested
in him), the resistance ended (but without making Chile a socialist state
with free medicare, education, etcetera). Works okay, but I liked the
Undercurrents version better.
Good writing, okay acting (some lines dropped). Too many "sit down" commands. It's the story of lies and morals, where the desire to earn more money to support a family conflicts with wider allegiances to fellow soldiers and countrymen. The father sells defective cylinder heads to the air force in WWII under the pressure of losing business, the son experiences battle and the loss of his fellow soldiers. Many consider the shipping of defective items to be murder, when pilots of those airplanes died. After penetrating through the lies, the son (and girlfriend of his dead brother - who may come back any year now - mad mom thinks so and wants girl to remain faithful) want to leave and get married. Dad finally understands what he did (though he framed his associate so he must have understood partially in the beginning) and suicides.
A reprise of the show from the Fringe Festival, as good as ever
(synchronised sound effects in particular). Afterwards Ken Godmere had a
little chat with the audience (sporting a large shrimp cocktail glass - which
he shared around). We found out that Vernus was inspired by his own grandpa,
and was more grumpy in earlier comedy club versions. He also talked about
growing up in a large family and finally becoming satisfied with life in his
A very good rendition of the 1947 film done as a radio show. I saw the
film a few days later and it's almost the same, except for dropping a few
visual gags (bubble gum getting stuck in Santa's beard) and the addition of a
modern wrapper. The modern day kid playing with a smartphone stops to listen
to the old radio with his grandfather. They're on stage during the whole
show, off to the side. At the end, the kid notices the similarity between
his grandpa's name and the characters in the radio play, but like the film,
it is purposefully ambiguous. Besides the usual excellence in everything
such as the singing Gladstone sisters, live sound effects, radio actors with
their own lives (gift giving and other silent actions while the radio show is
going on), I particularly noticed that Tom Charlebois was a very believable
Kris Kringle. I've seen him before, as the Turkey association guy in
November and more notably as a great mad scientist in
Space Mystery... from Outerspace! I'll have to keep an eye out
for him in the future.
It's still great, several years after last seeing it at the GCTC (back when it was on Gladstone, where the Ottawa #14 bus coincidentally passes by). I recognised many of the acts and characters from before (they're done with masks so they don't change even though the actors get replaced as they age out). However, they do update things, with mention of current events and people. The boy with the bright yellow Walkman audio cassette tape player now thinks it is an iPhone with a tape playing accessory, with the phone functionality turned off by mom.
The acts are roughly in the order of events of the day, starting with the early morning commuter rush and a squad of identically dressed business people, all with cell phones and newspapers (slightly anachronistic), marching on synchronously. The audio of strident xylophone notes for business man marching was oddly lacking in high frequencies, as if the recording was old, though it could be something temporary since it was fine later in the show. That was followed rapid fire by dozens of on-the-bus skits. After the first few, the audience was warmed up, laughing loudly and really enjoying the performance.
There are quite a few more skits and details, too many to remember!
The set is also good: a sturdy jungle gym for grabbing on to when the bus stops to suddenly (one old woman gets bounced up onto the roof). It looks good except for the minuscule bus wheels, and it's inside-out as the crazy guy mentioned. There's humour if you look closely; the happy face advertisement is for Prozac and the other ads are similarly silly but with a worry that they could be real.
Worth seeing again and again!
An absent minded visitor mentions sailing with a con man from Australia,
who happens to match the household's wife's former assumed dead husband. The
strictly by-the-rules current husband (played with convincing slowness of
thought by Robert Hicks) decides he has to annul the marriage and worries
about the loss of reputation. Meanwhile their ward daughter wants to marry
an artist, again with the parents worrying about low social status and no
wealth. The upright aunt (Jane Morris - good posture) embodies those social
fears when she visits. After the story changes a few times and causes
several different panics, it turns out to be about an unrelated man. The
play ends with the wife getting the husband (before he finds out about the
story being unrelated) to loosen up in exchange for keeping quiet. Life
resumes, presumably more pleasantly for most, except the husband who has to
endure orange drapes and a new son in-law.
A very entertaining evening. If you like Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, then you'd appreciate this similar barbed poking at the people in power who need poking. The president does all sorts of dubious things (actions common circa the 2007 date of writing); thus the character is to a large part inspired by George W. Bush, but there are other influences detectable too.
This time we see the story from the oval office point of view (good set
recreating it, nice rug), with the president trying to get support for a
re-election run. The overall theme is that everything is a trade, from cash
for pardoning turkeys to land for casino deals with Indians. This involves
plenty of phone calls and tons of insulting language, particularly when the
deals fail (that Indian chief sure gets an earful of slurs). When watching,
see if you can keep track of which groups are not offended! There's a
Canadian reference inserted, involving an Inuit sculpture. Despite the
president's wildly insulting talk (often featuring the pork industry
rendition to torture airplane), things work out. It's sometimes due to
random chance (dead turkeys turned into an opportunity by spinning it as bird
flu to keep opposition voters indoors) but it's mostly due to no end of
support from the calm well dressed chief of staff (played perfectly by Steve
Martin). Worth seeing again, particularly for playwright David Mamet's
aggressive talking writing style.
Lots of singing and dancing. Particularly liked the Ken Tucker's
authorative voice as the preacher. Story of a boy from Chicago trying to fit
in to a small town. Gets into trouble with peers and adults. Can't blow off
steam by dancing like he did in the big city, due to a ban on dancing due to
respect for a recent car crash killing several young adults. Starts a
rebellion, but talking to the preacher works better.
A funny and sad play examining morals of poorer working people, by the same playwright who did Stones in his Pockets. Two home care workers wrestle with selfish and poverty driven greed when their elderly client dies in the bathroom.
Skip the rest of this paragraph if you don't want to spoil the story's novelty. First one woman convinces the other that they can collect the old guy's Monday pension payment from the ATM. They delay the report of the death for a few hours. But as worries about getting caught (TV detective shows about time of death come to mind) slow down their actions, the pressure of gain increases too (collecting a big winning horse race wager, thoughts about kids needing money for a school trip). There's also the concern about being respectable - it would look bad for their children to find out mom was caught stealing from old people. Their moral compass see-saws even more under worry about potential murder accusations, once they notice a bruise on the dead man's head. They do have some respect for the dead, figuring out which religious rituals are needed to send off the soul. The potential immensity of their troubles also rattles them, leading to a desire to confess to the police. Finally they burn down the old guy's home, not caring about the damage to government property, to cover their tracks in the theft of £620 and to be shot of their worries.
Good acting by Margo MacDonald as the less selfish one, always staying in
character right down to fine muscle movements like trembling, but not going
into overly dramatic movements (or at least making them seem realistic).
Even though the play just calls for a single room set (two walls and ceiling
cut away so we can see inside), they splurged and did the street outside,
with a big brickwork row house wall with windows opposite the room, and
accurate house numbers.
A good Agatha Christie murder mystery play. The characters were notably
distinct and well defined, enough so that I was able to remember them after
the play. The first half shows us the guests at a country house, meeting
each other and revealing their personalities and problems to the audience.
This culminates in the scene just before intermission where everyone has
dashed into the living room upon hearing the fatal shot. Coincidentally they
are all carrying guns for one reason or another (was hunting, was doing
target practice, picked it up from the floor). The second half is about the
investigation by a seemingly casual detective and his assistant, who
round-aboutly drill down to the murder. Worth seeing again in the medium
After a late start due to an earlier fire alarm, we entered the bunker
with our bowler hatted lantern carrying tour guide. We were briefed and
sworn to secrecy. So all I can say is that we had an amusing time, survived,
and all went over to my girlfriend's house for some horror movies (picked
Woody Allen's Shadows and Fog) and pot luck BBQ dinner.
An assortment of old Chinese operas and some more modern mixing of styles presented by the Autumn Melody Collective, frequently starring William Lau as the heroine. Surtitles in Chinese and English helped us understand the story. Lively master of ceremonies Diana Tso got the audience involved in replicating some of the gestures while she explained their meaning (such as rapid left-right eye movements implying scheming, or the wearing of fur meaning a barbarian foreigner). The costumes (and makeup that goes with them) were detailed and attention getting. Sound was prerecorded, and balanced nicely by the sound and lighting people sitting behind us in the cosy venue (many small round tables with a lit candle in a glass bowl on each).
It was interesting to see a different theatre style. One thing I liked
was the occasional speeding up of the singing/speech to almost rapid fire
rates, rather than dragging every word out at a slow pace like Western opera.
Makes a long bit of non-action dialog much shorter. However, the staging
isn't very active, it's mostly dialog, but that may be due to the small size
of the stage or an emphasis on singing, or perhaps it's part of the history
(mostly people of noble class talking) - I'd have to see more Peking opera to
Interesting stage floor blueprint on the floor of where the parts of the
set go, including a line labelling actors on one side and audience on the
other. The set changes were done by rapidly moving two fabric lined wall
blocks (different colours on each side) and a door on wheels, plus a table
and chairs and a few other props. The show starts (I think) with comments
about how people talk about things to work them out. Then the main story
starts, about divorced parents with a rebellious daughter who is vanishing
into a drugged life. The new east coast girlfriend of the father helps
improve the situation by digging deep enough to find out what's really
troubling the daughter. Her background of life in a convent helps her
understand, possibly from the reasons that sent her to the convent or from
helping other people there. It ends with an upbeat game of Scrabble, played
by throwing the tiles at the father.
Good job showing mental damage from a stroke and how words are lost and
then with luck found.
Theatrical family with fading star mom threatening to go back on stage,
dad writing a book, and two young adults all invite too many guests for the
weekend. Family's overexagerated dramatics generate a lot of witty dialog,
confusing the guests who successfully manage to escape.
This time I noticed more about the filming side of the story. It was more
obvious that the illusion of film leads to false hopes for life - rock star
ideal is unlikely. Notable items were the row of shoes at the back of the
stage, which the two actors would use when changing characters. On the back
wall was a long thin panorama picture of Irish scenery. At the end, animated
cows were projected on it and it came alive, making for a slightly happy
ending (the characters went the theatre route - telling their story of being
downtrodden extras with unhappy lives (friend on drugs suicided)).
A very energetic performance about the life of a Saskatchewan Roughriders fan. The theme is endurance and keeping spirits up in the face of frequent defeat, both in the CFL football game and the life of someone who's left a government job to become an actress. The audience sang sports songs and followed along enthusiastically, with several Roughriders fans in green. Colleen Sutton switches between characters, doing an amazingly loud voiced female fan, the actress main character who goes from meek to serious fandom, and assorted others. For a Fringe style play, the sound ambience and effects were quite good, recreating sports broadcasts and stadium sound (but that could just be the noisy fan drowning out everything).
Spoiler: The story ends in tears (the extra man on the field penalty
causes a last minute Gray Cup loss, life is similarly sad), but there's
always next year. The gift Roughrider shirt with #13 for RiderGirl from the
loud fan before that game is particularly poignant, both representing the
fans (the fans are known as player #13 - insulting and distracting the
opposing team) and the 13 players on the field penalty.
We've put together another packed schedule of plays to see at the Fringe Festival, numbering somewhere in the high forties due to work-day constraints for some of us. Hopefully we'll find a few good plays.
My favourites (ones which I wouldn't be ashamed to recommend to friends, in order of most fun first) currently are:
Here are the ones we've actually seen, out of the whole 52.
Unfortunately for us, the audience is the society, making for an odd
mixture of amusement and disgust and awkwardness. The dwarf costume is
good, and Dylan George moves around quite angrily, stomping around on
crutches, hand over hand on the overhead ladder, raging up and down ramps
(once scarily fast on wheels). He does a few songs, and talks a lot. He
tells a story about meeting a theatre critic who just judges by press
releases and is unethical in other ways (oddly a third of the audience of
6 were critics, so there was some looking around and giggling). He goes
on about shit, looking, feeling and then grabbing and eating a wet lump
(chocolate bar) from the on-stage toilet. After a segment on news, he
wonders what it would be like to be a dictator, if it's like Syria, then
proportionately you'd have to kill 19 thousand people this year, so who
would you pick as victims if you were dictator? Political victims of
course; he covers the possibilities. Then he's in the audience
pretending to be an upset audience member gribing about the play getting
too serious. It goes on and on, oil sands water pollution, media driven
sex addiction, a truely remarkable amount of material is covered and
A play about manipulating the affections of people through seduction and
deception, making them change mates from true to cuckoo. Good costumes,
showing an aristocratic style set a few years before the French monarchy was
ended. It even included a live violin chamber music player. There were so
many scene changes (18 in all) that the set was simply made of a few elegant
period furniture pieces (moved around by busy stage hands) with elements of a
room (door, picture frames) flown in and whisked out, all against a lush
curtain backdrop. The plot was fairly complex, with romantic relationships
and plots between several characters, though it all revolved around the male
lead, well played by John Muggleton.
It's been a while since I saw Titanic in Edinburgh in 2007, so I was pleasantly surprised by the freshness of the material (I only remembered the sailing along in a dark night song). The huge cast filled the stage (at least 45 people), singing well as a big crowd for boarding the ship and at a few other times. Seeing that many people in all sorts of Edwardian costumes was quite impressive, going from the very elegant first class outfits to the workmen and immigrants. Of course there were smaller scenes, such as the bridge officers and captain being hounded by the owner for more speed, or the stokers below shovelling faster and wondering at the risky speed increase for a new ship (normally you'd break it in slowly).
The sets were simple blueprint based flats, fleshed out with furniture and
other decoration (like railings dropping down in front of the blueprint for a
deck walkway) for important scenes (notably the first class dining salon or
the men's smoking room). A zigzag ramp served well as the tilting boat deck.
They even showed the ship sinking, with a stage wide picture gradually being
swallowed by the sea (a blue lit fabric drop being raised in front of it).
The saddest moment was at the end where we see the dead revealed by lighting
changes behind a semitransparent full stage screen with the survivors in
This play consists of dozens of short segments, separated by blackouts, each covering one training exercise in a community center (USA spelling on the whiteboard perhaps due to Massachusetts playwright Annie Baker) summer school for creative drama. As they progress we find out about the people in the class, helped by exercises where one person pretends to be another describing themself. The audience's interest is tugged along by the characters, both finding out their history (the unsocial girl with immigrant family trouble, the divorced stuttering man, the actress who left New York for a reason, the teacher and her husband) and also driven by developments in the characters (romance blooming then collapsing, marriage breaking) and finally by a recurring counting exercise which always fails early. Disasters happen, such as a divisive competitive exercise and another one where secrets are written down and revealed. At the end, they do successfully count up to 10 as a group, relationships have shifted and will shift more (nice trick of having an acting exercise about a meeting ten years in the future, where the two present ask about how the others are doing), life continues after the summer class.
The actors do a good job of being the characters (Catherine Rainville as the unsocial girl, mostly by body language with very few words), Andy Massingham as the stuttering awkward divorced guy, and the rest who all did a good job of being more ordinary. The set was a cinder block (much tedious work there, good ducts too) walled classroom with a big mirror wall and a whiteboard showing the progress of time, and laminate flooring (good for shoeless actors).
An entertaining evening, reminding me of a decent Fringe show in many
Technically the group of ten male singers were good, hitting high notes, holding low notes (showing off with a comic bent-over stomach punch after-effect), or varying pitch very smoothly. They also generate their own instrumental sounds (bass, percussion) for a-cappella singing that seems like it is accompanied by instruments. They did a collection of songs, from 1960s onward (Beatles for one), and medleys of several songs compressed into one. The most notable for me were the movie theme songs (since I know some of them), with words they had added, explaining Indiana Jones, and ending in a Star Wars chorus line (yes, they don't just stand around while singing). There was audience participation for one song, doing a wordless tone chant (Ooh-oh-oh in alternating decreasing pitch) with apparently sharp cutoff when compared to other audiences. The audience used that fragment to get them to come out for an encore, where we were treated to a final song with no amplification. We all quietly listened intensely to the somehow more intimate direct sound of the group.
They had good showmanship too. Before the show, there was an introductory
video jokingly explaining the group's origins, with an insert-city-here
parody of a cheap video edit. Hockey and Canada were often mentioned, with
dramatic tension during the whole show to figure out which of them was a New
Jersey Devils hockey fan. Their chatter appreciated being in Ottawa, happily
in the spring this time. Many other topics kept things active and gave us an
idea about their personalities. They also encouraged taking of photos and
videos, and posting them to Facebook, Tweeting them and so on. Partly
because they realise that fame means more shows for them to do, and it's also
related to their initial success being due to a YouTube viral video. The
stage was lit with a high mirror ball, metal towers with LED multicolour
programmable light strips, and many programmable spotlights, which they were
nice enough to avoid pointing in the audience's eyes, usually sweeping out
patterns on the ceiling of the auditorium or swooping down to light the
A very entertaining night of short plays, each required to be under 10 minutes with at most four actors, and most importantly, telling a story. The show programmer John Koensgen was there to take tickets and introduce the concept. Between shows, the set (boxes and tables) was quickly rearranged while the stage was dazzle-hidden by a projected image of a page from the next play (white letters, black everywhere else on the stage).
Lots of fun, looking forward to seeing something similar in the future.
For some reason I found this play quite funny. Seamus O'Brien's over the
top facial expressions and body language as Geoff helped set the mood, when
his character discovers that his girlfriend's family casually murders
visitors and maintenance people and is happy to talk about it. Yes, it's a
farce based on miscommunication where the family thinks the half dozen
fatalities are accidents and Geoff thinks it's murder. The writing by Derek
Benfield is cleverly ambiguous in that lots of the dialog can be interpreted
both ways. It keeps up the laughter right to the end as fresh bodies are
found and then furtively hidden around the garden.
A story about torture in Chile, after the military government has stopped
oppressing anyone who disagrees with them. A former torture victim
recognises the doctor who supervised her torture many years ago. He's a
guest who helped her husband get home after a flat tire stranded him. He's
rewarded with torture by the pistol wielding woman, who extracts a confession
in much the same way the military did. We're not sure if the doctor was the
right person, but the woman thinks he is because he corrected mistakes she
inserted in the story she told her husband, who passed it on to the doctor as
suggestions for the confession. The confession serves as blackmail, the
husband gets the job on the reconciliation commission, and they live happily
but warily ever after.
Very good. Notable staging included the life size horses, birds
(starlings or swallows), a wheeled goose, and tanks (one with a startling
machine gun). The story was a well done conventional one of a boy and his
horse Joey. The boy has to work around his stupid drunken father (making bad
bets, which is how he got the horse in the first place), and then the British
army to get to his horse back. It's a bit sad to see all those doomed men
going into battle, contrasted with their joyous expectations of a short easy
war. There's a dramatic scene where they first see action, and the officer
riding the horse gets blown off its back by some sort of projectile. The
horse's story leads to him drawing a German wounded men transport cart (even
though he's a riding horse) so he avoids the deadly front, just as the
calvalry officer who is pretending to be a medical unit orderly avoids it
too. The climax is the retreat of the Germans where the front comes to them,
stranding Joey in no-mans-land in the barbed wire. An unlikely ending then
reunites the horse with the boy. The author of the original book pointed out
on Edwardian Farm
that most horses didn't come back, even if they survived the war.
This Irish play seemed to be off to a slow start, but became funny and quite entertaining after Steve Martin did a cameo appearance as the German banker, athletically (backing away while pushed close to the floor in an awkward but somehow mobile position) dodging a crazy junior professor in full bore animated and wandering around talk mode. That could also simply be the point in the script where the setup of all those lies starts to pay off in farce fashion. The lies pile on as the central character (a lecturer trying to impress his rich girlfriend's dad with authentic old Irish farm life) tries to explain holes in previous lies.
The set was well done, showing what it's like in one of those old single
room houses where even the cattle stayed indoors. The fireplace and adjacent
curtained bed were notable in setting the ambience. The actors handled the
roles capably, distinguishing the widely different backgrounds of the
characters (poor vs rich, local vs travelled, conniving vs bumbling). The
lighting and sound was used effectively to show outside events, such as a
motorcycle arriving. And it was slightly scary when the door blew open and
extinguished the lamp, several times.
A masterful marionette play. The two level set (upper rectangular with gaps catwalk for puppeteer, lower setting of Penny Plain's house interior) looked quite nice, and was greatly enhanced by the lighting. Unused puppets were dangling from all sides and back, with the lighting emphasising the active puppets. Ronnie Burkett both animates the puppets and does all the on-stage voices.
The story background is set by a series of news announcements (blind Penny likes listening to the news), oddly the news is the last bit of civilization infrastructure to fail. A plague is killing Humans all over the world. Related signs of crumbling civilization fill the news. Locally, Penny's guide dog Geoffrey leaves to experience the world before it changes too much.
The first part is about Penny interviewing new companions, finally settling on a girl pretending to be a dog (some of the rejects go back on the street to chance being eaten by hungry Humans). Refugees from down south barge in, in stereotypical American survivalist tourist fashion. Other boarders in the house have their stories, from Geppetto the puppet maker being asked to make a baby for a desperate woman, to the annoying old woman with her henpecked weird and murderous editorial son or the meek bank teller who believes in customer service even at the end of the world.
As time passes, things become more desperate. The floor starts turning into dirt, with grass and then later flowers growing in it. News is of the USA selling young girls to China (they have a shortage) in exchange for debt reduction. Public transport fails, water too (opportunity for a last shower). The gas masked ghost boy makes friends with the dog girl. People die. The baby puppet is ready, and made of immortal plastic detergent bottles and other items, but the woman doesn't accept it as her new child. Penny tells the dog girl about her childhood, how she had a pet dog whose death made her go blind. Finally, Geoffrey comes back and has gone feral, ending the play by promising to eat Penny and mate with the dog girl, which apparently is possible because nature is changing.
Mr. Burkett didn't do it all; besides the complex use of lighting, there was a sound board in the back of the theatre with a stack of three or four Macintosh-minis, presumably holding the prerecorded news announcements and background ambience. It's a bit of a stunt to have one puppeteer doing it all, so when switching puppets Burkett would keep on talking for the now still puppet while grabbing the controls for the next puppet. He's pretty good at doing different voices, though not good enough to make them always distinguishable when there's a busy bit of dialog, so you sometimes have to rely on context to decide which character is talking. I'm not sure if it is real, but it seemed like Burkett's voice was coming from the puppets, not from his location on stage. Maybe there was a bit of amplification and positioning going on, though it didn't sound distorted by amplification, so it could be sound reflection from the stage surface. Someone (or several somebodies according to the program) spent quite a bit of time making all those puppets. Each one is quite distinct in shape, character and clothing from the others. They also move wonderfully, the old woman stomping around with her walker is a good example of that.
There's enough material in this play to make it worth seeing again in the
future. Remember to bring appropriate glasses if you're sitting in the rear
of the theatre!
A very good play by Hannah Moscovitch, with a tough situation at the end. The son of a Nazi doctor grows up in Paraguay, then when he's a teenager, his friend tells him about his father's history.
He finds out that methodical dad, after being wounded on the eastern front, ended up being a doctor at a prison camp, which includes the duty of deciding who to enslave and who to kill. From dad's point of view, peer pressure kept him in that career, and the opportunity to experiment with Typhus on people soon to be killed was too good to pass up. After the war, he went to Paraguay, helped by other Nazis in exile (the ODESSA organisation), and started a pharmaceutical business.
Son rebels, goes out with homosexual friend, then leaves on his own for Germany (travel helpfully funded by ODESSA). At university in Germany, he finds that he's good at medicine, but having to dissect a body makes him drop out. He then spends time searching the archives for his dad's past, encounters a Jewish girl searching for her Auschwitz survivor parents' past, and with a few lies about his background, strikes up a friendship. She becomes pregnant, finds out about the Nazi background, and wants to leave him and abort the baby. He goes back home, tells the Israelis about his dad the war criminal, but it will take years for extradition. Then the choice he makes is between killing his father (so that the baby and relationship may work), or himself (rather than killing a parent). A lose-lose situation for him.
Besides the good acting, lighting, sound and so on (no glitches noticed),
the set by Ivo Valentik was
particularly interesting. It had fragments of rooms (a brick fireplace and
chimney, a window casement), wooden crates and floor boards with secret
compartments and many items inside (a doll, lots of shoes), and the central
feature of a spiral metal staircase where actors could hang out and smoke.
The side walls of the stage were bare and visible to the audience, so instead
of walking on stage from the wings, actors were hidden around the set,
revealed by lighting and movement. Though it must be a bit tedious to hold
still until it's time for your part.
A Norm Foster comedy, this time an unhappy actor couple become self help
book publishers and motivational speakers. They're wealthy, and see each
other every day now, but are they happy? Complications with a gardener dying
while about to have sex with the wife make them rethink their lives, amid
panic about where to hide the body. Flustered housekeeper is upset by the
mixed commands she's getting from the husband and wife. Complications arrive
from the visiting police detective, the agent of the actors and her new
deceptive boyfriend / news reporter looking for tabloid sleaze. The audience
appreciated the off-stage sexual comments (dead man's tent pole, etc), a sign
of changing audiences at OLT.
Just an excuse for Paul Hutcheson to tell stories. New York city stories.
High school drama teacher stories. Orgy wishes. Some randomly choosen by
the audience stories from his big stock (we got the dead body one). The one
from Canuk Cabaret where he's sick at a Catholic
elementary school, but slightly different this time, not mentioning the tag
line about a good friend doing the laundry in that situation. Lots of fun,
and insight into his variety of a gay lifestyle.
I remember seeing this before at a Fringe festival. Good story about a
teenager and his robot; is it his way of coping with abuse and misfortune or
is it real? The robot eye lights seem to be more robust than the previous
duct taped ones, and the robot sadder. Jayson McDonald did a good job of
switching characters and especially of doing all the sound effects and music
Nazi oppression of culture kills off many of the actors at a Kabarett.
The survivor tells stories of the ghosts and what their fates were (and shows
a bit about their acts (dancing one was best) and personality using bits of
clothing scattered around the stage), to us at an illegal gathering in the
Irish hedge schools are begin replaced by national ones, which teach
English rather than the native Gaelic. Tension between the British military
surveyors, renaming everything, and the school teachers and students who
can't understand them. The best option for many is to emmigrate to North
Good. Band on stage, could see the conductor from the player's point of
view in a monitor. Most impressive was Rebecca Abbot's singing. No time to
A more refined version this time, with better story continuity and an
auxiliary pianoist to help out. But I still like Countries Shaped Like Stars
Life and people in Fort McMurray, working on the oil sands big projects.
All points of view are shown, from scientists reclaiming damaged land to the
workers who are there for the quick money. I was particularly struck by the
description of the many layers of clothes kids have to put on to go
A raunchy ex-Chilean revolutionary chases after the vision man (gorgeous
Mexican hunk actor of certain mixed parentage who attracts women and treats
them as disposable) sent by her deceased grandmother, after her second
divorce. She had the front rows dancing on stage, the women in the audience
agreeing about her problems with men, and played music to set a mood. Lots
of scene switching between the present film star hunt+repulsion and the
dangerous life of growing up as a revolutionary, with a side trip to working
at a phone sex call center. In the end, the revolution fails, and the hunk
thinks of her as motherly and a true friend.
Child abuse from the Doll's point of view. Starts with the actress
dressed exactly like her doll equivalent, in a white picket fenced stage.
Traces the abuser's thinking from picking up a doll in the toy store as a boy
to seeing a little girl about twenty years later and treating her like a
doll, until she gets too old to be a doll. Then we see the girl's point of
view, growing up, finding happiness at church (some things she can't
confess), life on the unstable dangerous side, up to the end when she learns
how to say "no" to a scary man in an alley and tries to remember the abuse.
Video used as a background - showing the doll being tilted to make its eyes
close, a bowl of tempting ice cream from memories of the abuser, her mom's
heart operation, and so on.
Good play, Richard Gélinas played an excellent Cyrano, production
was long but witty, making the time pass quickly. Amazing amount of rhyming
in the dialog. Simple but servicable set of an arched walkway wall made of
letters, becoming at times a playhouse, a battlefield, a balcony. Noticed
that the text from his final letter was lit up at the end. After it all, had
a good idea of Cyrano's character, wonder if there's actually anyone like
It's a solid Neil Simon play with unusually good casting and acting. I
was particularly impressed by Bob Hicks' father character who conveyed being
tired and worn out more strongly than naturally possible. Laurie Batstone's
half witted woman was also excellent. The story is about grandchildren
having to stay for most of a year with their strict Jewish grandmother, who
insists on survival at the cost of love. Her other children show up,
revealing how their personalities have been warped by the strictness.
Pierre Brault revived his play quickly after the previously scheduled actress fell sick. It's just one man and a chair, no other set, the ideal Fringe Festival show, or so it seems. He does know where to precisely slap down that chair to signal a scene change. However, lighting does substitute as a set. For example, casting bright sunlight on the floor in fan window patterns suggests the courthouse, prison bars are just a rectangular light with two dark stripes. He also changes voice and mannerisms to present many different characters, much to the amusement of some of the audience (nice to see that there are new theatre-goers around). Brault even handled an audio miscue quite well; a soft background chatter was accidentally sent through the loudspeakers and he was able to get it fixed, while commenting that it was ghostly voices, and asked the audience if they had heard it too.
I'd seen the play at the NAC studio long ago, and this time I came away
with the opposite opinion on who was guilty, since I was watching for things
which might be evidence. My big clue was that the assassin drunkenly
collided with a lamp-post after the shooting, suggesting it wasn't a
premeditated plan. The introduction has also been updated, with references
to the Internet, and current people. He described the woman beside the prime
minister in the courtroom as being similar to seeing the current prime
minister's wife in a courtroom beside him. One thing that hasn't changed is
that the play is still interesting and entertaining.
Two former piano students turned actors recreate the story of their piano training. Lots of funny-because-it's-true things, like the boys fighting on a piano bench while playing, exams, and competitions. Extra funny for people who've gone through that whole piano lesson ritual. And a warning - don't bother trying to make it a career, the schools will reject you, there are very few jobs and many more talented obsessed kids who practice piano their entire waking time. However, they did get to perform a real piece near the end of their play, with the audience listening with a quiet intensity.
A decent enough version of the musical. Adults instead of children. Live
small orchestra. Interestingly complex set of platforms, ladders, iron
railings. Nice use of small speakers on the railings for characters singing
near the railing. Kris Joseph disappeared into his characters, so you didn't
notice him as being exceptional except when singing.
Interesting difference in dance styles, lots of tumbling and jumping, good
use of fans, video backdrop, round fabric mats for snowflakes, live
orchestra. New stage curtain got stuck so the old NAC original curtain made
a rare appearance. Strong political message in some of the sets. Heavy
advertising as well as the novelty of ancient Chinese dancing draws in the
crowds. Lacks much of a story line (mostly short pieces showcasing some
region or time of China), Monkey King was longest.
Pleasant. Interesting how the stories from that time were about life in
the tenements, often from a child's point of view, with mean landlords or
corrupt business partners as the villains.
A very good and entertaining show, improved in many ways over the 2009 production, with Pom Frites (Scott Florence) and 'Restes (Margo MacDonald) as the constant core of the production. We also had a lively Puck (Jesse Buck reprising his role) and new actors for Titania (Kelly Rigole) and Oberon (Adrian Proszowski), plus the chorus of fairies (who are good at coordinated movement).
The story is similar to the 2009 production - the two clowns in search of ice cream get lost in a forest and are captured by the fairies as entertainment. Then after a bad performance, they are sent off to dispose of the royal baby (the King believes the child isn't his). The baby represents the coming of spring, without it Winter will continue for another year. There are quite a few new things, such as 'Restes texting his followers about being lost in a forest. Fortunately the plot isn't destroyed by that (he could call for help or use GPS location services) since his cell phone is actually a TV remote, with a mute button that works on actors.
The king's capricious magic adds a twist or two to the story, such as Puck being turned into a monster who can't speak (there's a charades session with 'Restes) or the Queen being turned into a lover of Pom while still wanting to kill him whenever the missing baby is mentioned. The King is evil (though I think Kris Joseph did a better job in 2009 with his deeper professionally trained voice and flamboyant scene stealing acting), locking up his wife in a laser beam prison, getting rid of the baby, and otherwise not being nice. Everyone else has to work around the trouble he causes, indeed there wouldn't be a story if he was nice.
Half the fun is due to the self inflicted problems of the clowns, mostly 'Restes. 'Restes gets his tongue stuck on a metal pole after being warned several times not to do it. 'Restes uses up his three questions at the Oracle (Pom does too, but in a superior manner). 'Restes is scared in the forest, seeing eyes in the dark. Pom has to come and rescue 'Restes many times, and never misses an opportunity to tell him "I told you so". Just the interaction between the two clowns is a large part of what makes this show fun.
The quest for ice cream also shows up at intermission, where for $2.50 you can get a wooden spoon and a cup filled with Neapolitan ice cream, reminding me of the British theatre tradition. After the intermission came a wonderful fantasy ice cream ballet and matching whimsical music - with Restes chasing after 1950s style drive-in waiters and waitresses carrying ice cream cones and moving in flowing patterns while tempting 'Restes with cones of ever increasing size, until he got to one whose costume was entirely a giant ice cream cone. This flowed naturally into Restes waking up shivering on the frozen forest floor - we had just seen what he was dreaming about. There was also ice cream for the audience at the conclusion of the play.
The set was made of flat snow flake shapes, arranged in tetrahedrons and other space filling geometries, extending into the audience area, a design which is supposedly good for a travelling show. It provided plenty of paths for chases through the set as well as a throne room and laser beam prison. The open arrangement gives lots of space for acting, and visibility through the flakes make it seem bigger than usual. The prison was done with small mirrors hidden in the snow flakes, a laser, and the often present environmental fog.
On the negative side, besides the attenuated Oberon, I felt a gap in the performance when Titania sings about the baby being lost. It sounded like she was singing out of character, just singing; it did not have the emotion of a mother who recently lost her child. Right after that the emotions came on strongly in the next bit of dialog, which makes me think the neutral singing was a director's choice or a singing training limitation.
Some other observations I don't have time to rewrite into seamless text:
A very entertaining play, though I prefer the 2009 version (my favourite
play ever) due to Kris Joseph's over the top performance and the novelty of
seeing the show for the first time. I'd be happy to see 'Dream again, or
whatever the Fools create next.
A very entertaining show; way above average. Good writing for the dialog (Paul Rudnick) combined with good characterisations by the actors are the main factors. The density of throw-away funny bits is decently high - like the old woman / former one night stand desiring but being hesitant about dancing with the ghost of John Barrymore, saying that she's old; he answers that he's dead. Jokes about tights, TV and more keep the audience laughing.
Besides the well played flamboyant, confident Barrymore character (Eric Ladd), the light weight TV actor Andrew (Michael McSheffrey) has a good portrayal with a bit of depth in his worries and Hamlet decision (impress girl with Hamlet, easy money with TV, Hollywood disdain for theatrical actors, embarrassing TV ads with puppets). There's a lot of good character interaction, which I can't really put into concise words. The TV producer reminds me a lot of Speed the Plow and comes from the same glad-handing Hollywood executive culture that drives the plot tension between art and making money.
There's a decent sword fight where the ghost of John Barrymore tries to get the lightweight young actor Andrew Rally involved in the thrill of acting (good fight choreography, including running atop the mantle piece to get the drop on the other guy). The set is nicely fantastic - on purpose looking like someone turned an apartment into a set. Andrew eventually gets into the fight and decoys Barrymore by pretending to be wounded, then grabs his sword and cracks Barrymore across the cheek with the hilt - I hope that was a sound effect.
Speaking of sound, Barrymore was made more magical or heroic or maybe just
dramatic by having his own sound track - swashbuckling music when he sword
fights, and other music as appropriate. Yes, lots of good stuff, right to
the final bows. The next time it comes up, I'll definitely be looking
forward to seeing it again.
Psycho-therapy in a locked in discussion group goes bad when the attendees
are indeed insane, rather than the normal client class. Quite the cast of
characters, from American therapy leader, to old woman who misses her false
memory husband, to the crazy guy who lies all the time and may blow up the
Soldiers back in civilian life as singers and dancers are the excuse to
have a show with lots of song and dance. The story is about putting on a
show at the General's struggling country inn, with a side order of romance
between two different dance teams. Good singing. And of course, tap
dancing. The General's granddaughter steals the show when she starts a bit
of dancing of her own.
East German couple who live with honesty and truth impress a visiting
American researcher. Years later, one finds out that the other was an
informer. Mostly a character study, though lacking the emotional side of the
real deadly menace of the environment (even though their son is killed by the
A good ethical point about small town doctors with powers of life and
death over everyone in town. What happens if the doctor hastens the death of
undesirable people? The town kid, who's now a newly minted doctor himself,
visits and discovers that dark secret. The town seems better off without
cruel people and criminals. Including the kid's abusive father. But the
doctor has gone further than too far by killing people who suspected him.
Nice ending where the new 'doc faces the same ethical question himself.
Great set - forced perspective angles of the walls of the modern Hollywood
executive office make you feel as if you're standing on the edge of a cliff
when you come out of the lobby corridor. The play flaunts the shallow
affectations put on by people in that movie production subculture (well acted
movement and rapid fire Hollywoodese dialog) and reveals the money bones
behind the friendly faces and fake love. The crux is the seduction of a
script that seems to have deep meaning vs a sure thing sequel. The desire
for meaning surprisingly outweighs normal sensibilities of the executive and
his temporary assistant, making them see meaning where there is none. The
old friend with the sequel opportunity has to fight to bring back normal
money grubbing sensibilities. Nice twist there.
A good debunking talk by James Randi
about various scams and tricks that fake paranormal powers. He pulled a few
misleading tricks on the audience too (fake glasses, fake microphone), and
one amazing card trick, somehow knowing which cards were in the envelope.
Enjoyable, educational and entertaining.
A trial about a teacher teaching evolution in the southern USA of the
1920s. Good acting from the defence attourney and journalist, offense was
good except for a voice that wasn't quite deep enough (sounds like he had a
cold recently). Huge cast. Ends with a loss, just like the real Scopes trial which
inspired this play.
Makes me want to check out the real myth of Amelia, though hidden under
her publicist's stories, we may never know. With songs and live piano on
stage. Told from stay at home sister's point of view, publicist's point of
view, Amelia's point of view. Animation festival coming up so no time to
Later in the evening, after The 39 Steps, Crush Improv put on a one night show featuring the 39 Steps director John P. Kelly as their guest. Not coincidentally, Al Conners was in both shows. Much like the Spotlight on... Emily Pearlman show we saw at the Fringe festival, the troupe riffed on stories from the guest. Kelly's problems with Irish/Swiss drivers licenses being accepted differently in Ontario and Quebec led to a good driver's test scene, complete with burning pedestrians.
His next story was about getting lost in a forest for a night. The GPS told him to turn right at a fork in the road and he did, going on the road less taken, then getting stuck in the last patch of snow (spring time) in the middle of a forest. Of course, he was dressed for that first warm spring day, which turned into a cool night. Additionally there were lots of bear tracks in the snow. First off was a story of a GPS prototype program, where a wimpy GPS was modified to talk and behave more like a guy. Then we got many diary entries from different characters about day #27, centering about being stuck in the woods, everyone's dead except me. The bear had a diary entry too. Then there were snow cones and fear of lips touching when the two young girls had only enough soda pop for one shared cone.
Another series was about how Kelly met his French wife (sitting in the
audience and looking extremely embarrassed) and tried to be romantic. That
led to stories of kissing on the cheek not being the desired thing, watching
Hugh Grant films only making her talk about Huge Grant so the ideal trick was
to pick something unromantic so that Kelly would look romantic in comparison.
It ended up at a South Korean karate class (real life was a karate class at
his future wife's request). That blurred into a deaf karate master trying to
understand his students who didn't know sign language. Kelly and the
audience had a good laugh at some of the resulting misunderstandings.
A fun play, mostly because of the amazing scene changes. There are just four actors and assorted props they can move around, and a sound effects person hidden somewhere. The main props are a door on wheels, a window on wheels, furniture on wheels, ladders which become fences and other odds and ends. For example, the hero escapes from the murder scene (he didn't do it, it was foreign spies) on a train made from an armchair as the locomotive and steamer trunks as the individual carriages as well as serving as seats in a compartment and as compartment walls. Al Conners just plays the hero and Kate Smith plays a small number of female foils for the hero to react against (lovely newlywed couple at the hotel scene eating big sandwiches while handcuffed together). Richard Gélinas and Zach Counsil play everyone else. In the train stopped at Edinburgh scene this includes: a train platform newspaper boy, several policeman, a conductor and the comedy duo (Laurel and Hardy?) in the compartment, often switching between all of those a dozen times in a minute, making for a frantic dramatic scene as the hero (face prominent on the newspaper front page) tries to avoid being noticed by people.
The story is as you would expect - framed for a murder, the hero tries to
find the spy master before the stolen military plans are shipped out of the
country. The fun is in the implementation, rather than the writing. The
actors do show they know that they are acting at times - with the hero
opening a door to a noisy party and closing it, then faking opening it,
trying to catch the sound effects operator off guard. There were two
mistakes, one when the handcuffs fell off unexpectedly, and the other being
the reversed Edinburgh station sign direction. But those are minor. Fun and
worth seeing again.
A nice twisty Agatha Christie mystery, with the plot changing your idea of
who did it. But that's just half the story, the other half is the trouble
the people there get into when trying to rapidly hide the murder from the
police, who have been tipped off by someone. As the director remarked, doing
that kind of play takes a lot of traffic control, which they did manage to
pull off until the final curtain drop. There was even some overlapped
dialogue, making conversations sound more natural. Since this is the second
day of their summer production, the actors were good but missed a few of
their lines. Initially the accents were hard to decode, but that passed
quickly (voices were amplified more than usual which may have helped or
hindered or both). Sarah Hearn stood out with a bit of extra character
acting, and John Muggleton had an evil aura about him - he's good at playing
villains. A bit above average show - I was involved in the story more than
usual, due to the good writing and the actors' ability to perform it.
A rainy day turned into a pleasant evening in the park. The set was their
usual multilevel multipurpose stack of boxes, with a large map of the
Mediterranean area on a backdrop sheet. The position of the characters was
shown by magnetically snapping a corresponding saucer shaped disc onto the
map. The costumes were simple and bold, good for identifying the characters
(Cleopatra in sharp gold and blue, Romans in white with a red stripe) and
good for quick changes by the actors. The comic side of the fools shows all
over the place, such as using a tin can telephone to send messages which
would have been done by courier over days. Pompey shows up as a shy pirate
that the audience has to call on stage. There's a really good sea battle
done with cut out cardboard ships on sticks from behind a low blue curtain on
sticks around the stage, with the ability for an observer to zoom in (they
switched to bigger ships when the telescope was lengthened). The Fools
showed off their improvisational ability by incorporating audience reactions
into the script, such as a baby crying causing Antony to say that the battle
was so bad it made babies cry. Though sometimes the improvisation goes on a
bit too long, leaving me waiting for them to get back to the story.
We've put together another packed schedule of plays to see at the Fringe Festival, numbering about forty. Hopefully we'll survive the marathon.
My favourites (ones which I wouldn't be ashamed to recommend to friends, in order of most fun first) currently are:
Here are the ones we've actually seen, out of the whole 53.
We had a bit of a talk-back at the end, where audience member Jim from South Florida (I think it was James McCreavy) told a story of his evening with Lenny Breau in 1983 after an Ottawa Chateau Laurier gig. Lenny enjoyed the dinner and conversation at Fuller's Restaurant and said it was real nice being straight. He then performed amazingly well the next night. But the night after that, he fell off the wagon and didn't even show up for his gig. Jim also found out that Lenny didn't drive because after eating Mescaline, he couldn't tell what colour the traffic lights were. Lenny also pioneered the use of "like" as a filler word in conversation.
In my opinion, Lenny was thought of as a great guitarist because he
was the key that filled a hole in people's expectations - fine tuned by
learning classical, jazz flamenco and other styles, thus discovering the
true global shape of the cultural hole that makes a great guitar player
(plus technical ability and practice). A good show if you like guitar
music or are a guitar player and want to see a variety of techniques.
When she goes to watch her sister at a Roller Derby game, she's enthralled by the outfits and the variety of different people playing. She visits the "Fresh Meat" desk and signs up. In the next 18 weeks of basic training, she makes friends with a dragon tattooed woman, falls for a coffee shop barista, and loves playing queen of the track (last one standing while racing around the ring, she imagines she's body checking vampires off the track).
Skipping over an accident that brings down her sister, lesbian
impoliteness, the secret of the alpha woman, the Roxanne drinking game,
motivational trash taking from June, we get to the big game. Amy's
knocked over and injured by an elbow to the face, but revives enough to
be angry and when whip thrown ahead by Dragon, gets in the zone and leads
the race. Wining was good, but having a new family of teammate friends
was better. Well performed (on roller skates) to a sold-out house, with
a well written happy story.
She puts him on the 5 Lies program (formerly 3 Wishes, but that was too expensive for the Universal organisation budget), explaining that he can tell five lies and the universe will be adjusted so that they'll be believed. A lie is cunningly defined as you knowing it's wrong and it being said with intent to deceive. After a false start, he tells his coworkers that he's got his job back after being fired (turns out the boss had a coworker frame him for theft). They believe it and as a side effect, his boss dies in a car accident that night, leaving nobody to contradict the lie. He's a bit upset about that side effect, emergency summons Phyllis, and hears some stories about other limitations. Apparently abstract art is a side effect of someone untalented people lying that they were great artists - the definition of art got changed to make the lies work. To avoid using up a lie, Mark learns how to tell the truth, or at least pepper his statements with maybes.
With a bit of guidance from Phyllis (popping in only every two years
due to a big case load), he straightens out his life. Even so, he runs
into ethical trouble a few decades later when his wife gets stick - can
he lie on her behalf? If he says she's going to get better, it might be
slightly true, so a lie won't operate. As time advances, he becomes
mature enough to ask Phyllis how she's doing, and suggests she apply for
that department head job despite being stuck as a case worker for
decades. The happy ending is that Mark finds a young suicidal woman on
the rooftop, and uses a lie to get her to stick around while he starts a
new career as a Universal case worker under his new boss Phyllis. Listen
for the bell that marks the lie that Phyllis used on Mark at the start of
At the present Wendy hates Joe since he broke up with her. Joe
regrets this. Flashback scenes (signaled by a referee's whistle) show
us how they met (nice scene with milk crates stacked to make trees for a
forest where Wendy is bird watching and talking with Joe), how they're
now fighting (night club scene with disco lights and Wild Wendy), and
their fantasies (a nifty triplet song with forking to different phrases
for each person where they differ in the kind of lover they like). As
part of Wendy's zoology Dolphin suicides (inhaling sand) are mentioned as
a breakup equivalent in the animal kingdom. It stops at a happy point
where Joe and Wendy make up and Cass finds a guy who's actually orgasmic
(that's all she was looking for).
He does the ward report to inform the next shift about the status of all patients in a rapid fire poem of sorts, naming each patient and what their state is or actions they've done. Quite a long list too, and if you didn't catch it, you've got a few hours to find out before the next shift. There's a good poem about the drugs he's handing out to each patient, with the scientific names of dozens if not a hundred drugs cunningly rhymed.
After all ten commandments (#2: Though shall not covet thy neighbours
sanity; #8ish: Though shall not kill, thyself, not when I'm on duty) he
had us singing the refrain "it could be worse, it's not time for the
hearse" to his insanity song. Lots of fun.
There are good times, such as an appreciative audience watching when
she rescues an eagle floating in the water (her small net is helped out
by a friendly fisherman with a giant fish net, turning disaster into
success). There are disturbing ones, like the house where they extract
41 wild and inbred cats from the basement, leaving the scent of cat urine
on her clothes and skin for ages (funny because it's so true). At times
she feels like a hero, and that fits in one of the four phases of animal
rescue feelings listed on charts she has brought with her. There's the
boyfriend and a happy relationship, which lasts until the wounded cat
that brought them together dies. In the end, there's too much death and
too many cutbacks at the animal shelter, where following the rules brings
praise (or at least not losing the job) but delays help or kills the
Dividing the dark, damp and nicely cool huge basement of the church diagonally is a wall, with an entrance draped in fabric and small Christmas lights, which you push through to get to the performance area. The audience has wooden chairs on platform tiers and the actors get a few rugs in front of a tall wooden box made from French doors (translucent glass windows) with too many door knobs and hinges. There are some simple pole lights to illuminate the area, and a xylophone and small night table lamp to the side. This could all fit into the corner of someone's house, not too surprisingly for Mi Casa's mode of operation. While people were finding their way to the seats in the dim dampness, someone was whistling and strumming a guitar in the distant dark and we were given the opportunity to write a letter to a sibling to get us in the mood for the theme of the play.
The main story is about two siblings, often playing competitive taxonomy games (audience members who know Latin are at an advantage in the interactive warmup part of the show), most listing whale types. In this world, the whales are the navigators of the ocean, watching the moon to set their course, while other creatures set their paths by whale watching. The siblings say they don't like their parents, and there's a song about that - hiding under the stairs done with a stair silhouette inside the French doors with fingers walking down the stairs. There are wonderful touches like that all throughout the play, I'll skip over the pirates and astronomers to keep this short. Super absurdity is brought in by their third sibling, the egg child in a fishbowl, which the girl treats seriously (blowing bubbles in the water around it to keep in touch) and the boy finds gross and annoying, leading to the Stone Cold Heart song. Most of the songs are in pairs as we switch between the girl's and boy's point of view.
The boy makes off with the moon, the girl is left alone, sending out antagonistic messages in bottles, then goes swimming in the ocean to find the whales which might know where the moon is. There was good use of cut up plastic bottles for the creatures of the sea, and undersea ambience is created by shining lights through a rippling green glass vase on a record player turntable. It's marvellous what they can do with simple things. The girl gets eaten by a whale. While the boy is on the run, he gets blown into the ocean (nifty mime with fingers walking on an arm for land and curled fingers for waves on the sea, with voice effects for wind and waves), and then gets eaten by a whale. They are happy to find each other and they sing a very pleasant duet accompanied by xylophone and guitar to mark the event.
The audience liked it. I found it good, but not as good as
Countries Shaped like Stars which had a more whimsical air
to it, and a smoother romantic tie than rough sibling rivalry. Their
earlier work had a strong linear story to it, while this one is somewhat
segmented. I suspect that's why Whale didn't involve me as much in the
characters or in the story. But that may change. They're still working
on the play, with a final version due in February 2012.
This is a musical about the odd topic of USA presidential assassins. We saw many if not all of the assassinations, and discovered a few patterns in their motivation. Guns are very common. They had several, and demonstrated that they get people's attention by pointing them at the audience, which went particularly silent. Gun shots were done effectively by off-scene cast sharply rapping a heavily dented garbage can lid with a stick. Most assassins are upset at being at the bottom in wealth and social status, and many are crazy (one with stomach pains). As the play went through the list of assassins, photos of the presidents were torn from the counter at the end of the hall and crumpled up. There's a summary scene where the assassins we've seen so far want their prize (redress for Lincoln disuniting the USA, social justice, etc) and don't get it. Democracies can survive assassination quite handily by electing a replacement (with a vice-president for the immediate replacement), so assassination is effectively useless in forcing things to change.
We also see a bit of the post assassination - with a marvellous hanging scene. All the scenes have a lot of movement and flow (well choreographed), but the hanging is surprising. A religious assassin feverishly talks about god while climbing the stairs to heaven (a tall ladder on wheels), then is whisked to the other side of the hall where a man with a noose awaits on a balcony, putting the noose over the assassin's neck while the assassin is still high on the ladder. The crowd of spectators then holds up the assassin's feet while he moves away from the ladder, the imaginary trapdoor opens, he falls and the lights abruptly go out.
The grand finale is the J.F.K. assassination, where the other assassins tried to convince Lee Harvey Oswald to not commit suicide due to a failed marriage and other problems, but instead go for fame. People will remember his name, and enhance the historical significance of the others. Conveniently his bundle of curtain rods contains a long distance rifle and he went to the the window and did the deed.
It was neat seeing the play in the hall, with the audience on wooden
chairs around the room and actors in the middle and flowing from all
directions. If you're planning to go, decide if you should be near the piano
for the music or far from it so you can hear the actors better. Sounds were
more natural - no amplification here though there's a bit of echo from the
walls. Acting and singing were good, with most if not all of the performers
visiting from Sheridan College.
This is the story of a person who started out as a boy and ended up looking quite female. It starts with a 5 year old Nina (nee Rodney) Arsenault noticing mannequins at a department store and the proportions and curves of their shape. Most of the rest of her life is dedicated to changing her appearance to that perfect but unrealistic look. The voyage has several stages, and lots of surgery.
After getting a degree or two, she found a steady job in the transsexual shemale internet web camera chat business, where being able to write well and type fast is actually an advantage. We heard about web cam tricks and how real appearances can be a turnoff. There are a few poignant stories of people she met online and in real life. And finally after enough money has been earned and with help from a rich benefactor, she got to San Francisco for some surgery.
There's also a lot of silicone involved in changing body shape cheaply, with scary tales of directly injecting black market silicone into flesh (even if the silicone is of good quality, it's illegal because of the risks of it getting into the blood stream and clogging up the brain, heart or lungs). This also revealed the transsexual culture - respect due to the ones looking closer to real women, jealously guarded contacts to the black market, their language dialect. Nobody ever reveals where the silicone comes from either, making the whole thing very dodgy. The purveyors do try to establish a good reputation since they're in it for profit and repeat business - it takes many small injections to flesh out things semi-safely. But I wonder if they hush up the failures, though we did hear about those too.
The payoff for all this work, combined with makeup, fashionable clothes and an inhibition relaxing drug and some Champagne was being picked up by Tommy Lee in a bar. He's a rock star big enough to have hirelings do the picking up for him. She savoured the looks from the jealous women at the bar, all trying to get his attention, as well as valuing the desire of a man who was married to Pamela Anderson. Of course it didn't last too long, once Lee's entourage informed him about the true nature of the situation.
The next stage was cheap Mexican surgery to shave bones, rearrange noses, trim ribs. Nina did include a lot of photos in the show about this part of the process, which is quite gruesome. But somehow she healed up, suggesting that it's equivalent to her body being in quite a few car crashes. Her facilitator and translator, Momma, had been operated on so many times (free surgery when she brings in customers), for example indecisively changing her nose many times, that anesthetic was no longer wearing off quickly. She did die later on during an operation, at a fairly old age (sixties?), but that was guessed from her walk, not her appearance.
Finally, Nina got into exercise for improving the body. After getting annoyed with sweat while exercising with corn-row hair (suitable for attaching wigs to), she shaved her hair off. She did take off her gorgeous wig during the show and showed us that she had indeed achieved her childhood dream - that mannequin look.
An interesting tale, because we don't often hear about life in the
transsexual culture and the dangerous things they do in the quest for beauty;
it's a twist on what real women do on the same quest. She told it well (just
a few word stumbles, good writing), with quite a few photos, but tastefully
not emphasizing the erotic.
An interesting look at people's beliefs in fate and destiny, or Kismet. 100 people were interviewed across Canada, from 1 to 100 years old. The four actors reenacted interviews, presented audio recordings of them, and talked about the meaning of fate. The big feature of the set was a giant wall and 100 tennis ball sized white spheres that could be magnetically stuck to it in all sorts of different patterns, from a line chart to a simple landscape to the social network around a farm. They also had a hand held video projector and painting sized translucent screens they could place or hold up to show short video clips of their travels while doing the interviews.
The interviews had some stock questions on people's belief in fate, their favourite song, what they believed in, life changing events and other things. Not too oddly, most of the fate and life changing was about meeting a romantic partner. One interviewee described her ideal man and was surprised when he walked past shortly after. Another woman retreating for a year to the wilds of the B.C. coast after bad times was surprised by a visitor one stormy night who became her partner. Odd that they should meet? Not really, she had the only light on the coast during bad weather.
There was also a bit of real psychology showing how people understand or don't understand Kismet. For example, people winning millions of dollars are as happy as people losing their legs, a year after the events. The audience was asked to pick the next story by either random choice or by hearing a summary of the stories before choosing. The audience choose the summary route, which led to some seductive cliffhangers from the actors selling their tales. Another test was to choose one of two ways of handling picking a photo to keep. The first way is: after picking a photo, the other photo gets destroyed immediately. The second way: you get to switch photos the next day if you wish to. The audience choose the second way. That showed that people in the audience seem to like to know as much as they can in advance, and keep their options open. Reasonable, but quite un-kismet.
The show was entertaining because of the good variety of insights into
people's lives and their belief in fate. No plot in the show, but a
collection of stories about people's hankering for a plot in their lives is
A dark stage sets the tone of this play, and makes it easier to read the surtitles projected on the backdrop. It started out with an adult couple driving somewhere in Japan (the central part of the set was a car interior), speaking in Japanese (thus the titles). We found out a little bit about their life (20 years working for a Vodka firm) and relationship (not the same person anymore) and indirectly about their trip. They stopped to pick up an unsuccessful actor (who does whatever gigs he can find) and shop for a hibachi barbeque cooker.
When the man pulled out the vodka and shared it around, saying that this was recommended by a web site, I was puzzled. However, when the pills come out I figured it out; they're going to use the carbon monoxide from the barbeque to kill themselves while drugged to sluggishness (carbon monoxide would already be painless). The man because of his weary life, the actor because of lack of success, but I'm not sure why the woman wants to die. They proceeded to the final stages, but the man dragged the woman out of the car when she passed out first (she'll revive soon in the fresh air) and then went back to die, leaving the actor out too (he was paid, thus not suicidal yet). A friend provided a hint - the man was balding and wore a warm tuque on his head, perhaps as a result of chemotherapy for cancer. That would explain everything - the woman was sympathetically suicidal.
The second half of the play is the reverse. They performed everything backwards, though speaking individual sentences normally. Now that we knew the ending, this was a good review (ha!) of what they were really saying. I suspect that it would be quite hard to act backwards. At least memorising their lines in different languages would make it easier to avoid confusion.
An okay play, but not that entertaining. Could have a powerful sad impact
if people you care about have recently died.
An interesting consideration of death. The king has put off dying for several centuries and now has only a few hours left. His older queen tries to get him to realise this. The younger queen hopes that love endures, and doesn't want him to know that he's dying. The guard announces the changes in the king's state, while the Doctor tells us what's going wrong with the king. There's also a busy maid who has to do everything. That's because the kingdom is directly tied to the king's health - most of the population has left (including the castle staff), the neighbouring kingdoms are encroaching, earthquakes and landslides are destroying the ground, cracks are appearing in the castle walls and time moves too quickly.
So what does the king represent? A real king of fairy tale age who's finally dying? All kings and the end of monarchy? Or just a Human life, with the kingdom being the body and the king being the ego that lives in it? The king has left death for too long, just like many people who don't consider what to do at end of their life until it's too close. He now has to deal with the royal progress to death (heart attacks are reserved for businessmen), which the doctor and older queen know well, though the king doesn't have a clue about what's in store for him.
Andy Massingham is the king - youthful curls change to thin streamers of white hair, and he ages quickly, falling as frail muscles let him down. Good use of that falling practice from Bifurcate Me. He also shows other aging facets quite convincingly, turning blind at the end and having to be lead by the old queen through the landscape of death. The rest of the casts was evenly good, an unusual occurrence. Costumes were pretty nice too, like the guard in armour with the shiny metal closed helm that opens like a kitchen garbage can, or the queens' costumes (the king wore pajamas). The set was simple, with cloth tapestries for the walls (which fall as the castle decays), and three rocking chairs for the thrones, the biggest one being huge and making Massingham look like a little child. Sound had a scary moment of wild heart beats as the king spasms, making you wonder if the kingdom and theatre were going to go down with him.
So, if you care to contemplate the meaning of life, this is an interesting
play, with a solid performance.
The show starts off shrouded in mystery and mist as the audience members are lead through a thick fog (water based) to seats that are scattered around the stage floor and covered with plastic sheets. The theatre is hot, but not damp, because they've turned off the ventilation to keep the fog. The show starts with one of the actors in the audience talking softly. Then it's the end of the world and the lights go out. Another man wanders around the darkness with a little blue keychain flashlight cutting swaths through the fog. Apparently it is the end of the world and he's looking for his old friend. They meet up in the first man's place, and are joined by a woman who's bringing champagne, apparently hard to get in the chaos of the end of the world. Drinking, talking about the Bobcats highschool team that was the peak of their lives, they are also projected on screens in the theatre from web cams on a little platform on strings. Then animatronic manikins (rotating arms, necks, flashing mouths) in fantasy costumes (1950's housewife, dress in drag, baseball coach) are revealed, they correspond to the three people and imitate them having a discussion. The humans put on the costumes and relive their past. Eventually the story of the gay man's friend being killed in a car accident by the other two comes out, there's a tense scene with a suicidal gay man and a gun, then morning comes.
The theatrics were good, however the story was a bit disjointed for me so
I didn't get really involved with the characters.
Far off in the distance is the sound of music, which as we got closer to Academic Hall was obviously coming from somewhere inside the theatre. The lobby was full of men in Jewish orthodox dress (black vests and black hats) dancing to the beat in lines and circles who encouraged men of the audience to join in the celebration of a wedding that afternoon. The women were inside the theatre, at the bride's side of the wedding.
After that rambunctious start we get to see the inside of an orthodox Jewish wedding. Which means the bride and groom have only gone on chaperoned dates, never touched each other. There's lots of music and festivities. There are also family arguments and problems in the back rooms, with the mother and father of the bride divorcing soon due to umm, marital problems. The groom's brothers play tricks on him - giving him all sorts of rules and advice about what to do with the bride when they're married, such as saying nothing, turning the lights out, and keeping a sheet with a small hole between them while having sex. They quoted quite a few religious rules as part of the argument. That make for several awkward minutes with the eager bride in the Yichud room (a room in the Synagog where the new couple spends their first few minutes alone).
Worth seeing for the experience of an old Jewish wedding, something you
don't get in ordinary life. The play layers on the drama of family life to
the cultural experience. What with the introductory festivities in the
lobby, this is quite an involving and fun play.
Lots of fun. This is the story of a confidence artist in the French Riviera who meets up with an inept con who wants to learn from him. The master's normal technique, perfected over many years and no longer a thrill, is to find a woman with money and become the person she wants (such as a prince fighting a revolution in a small country) until she hands over the cash.
He demonstrates how it's done by pretending to be the prince seducing an oil baron's daughter visiting from the USA. However, things go wrong when she moves faster than him and starts dragging him off to Oklahoma to be married. There's a funny dance and song where she describes what she likes about Oklahoma (the messy and smelly details of cattle farming), causing the master to try to get out of marriage. She has a pistol and makes him dance, turning it into a big number with lots of supporting cowboys and girls. To get out of the bind, the master gets the student to pretend to be his insane brother Ruprecht locked away in the basement, with all sorts of horrible personality behaviours (like the mason jar of farts he carries around with him). That disgusts both the audience and the cowgirl.
The meat of the plot (the cowgirl was just a warm up) is the contest between the master and student to see who can con the Colgate soap queen out of $50000 first. There are some tremendously delicious double takes and twists and turns in the plot, but I'll say nothing more to avoid spoiling the rest of it.
So, very good writing, with lots of fun details (the french fry tea cart that appears for a mere 5 seconds in a song about French things). There's also an excellent set that's made of many moveable pieces on wheels that is choreographed into different configurations along with objects (window elements, hints of a casino wall, hotel ceiling lights) dropped from the fly loft. Each piece also looks pretty good and dimensional (not just a flat painting) - like the twin curvy stair sections with railings and a balcony that can be arranged as a grand staircase in a mansion or outdoor garden walkways.
Everything else worked unobtrusively: live orchestra, lighting, rows of bellboys and chamber maids in identical costumes, rich people in quite a variety of different dresses (a hotel lobby is a recurring location), and good acting from everyone. In particular, Rob Henderson as the master was excellent as the mature gentleman con artist.
Worth seeing for the fun. Worth seeing again to show it to friends. A
second viewing won't be boring since the plot is so twisty that you'll be
able to reinterpret it in a new way.
A fun and serious play that's about story telling. It's Daniel MacIvor telling his stories (with director Daniel Brooks), supposedly stories with some truth from his life, on a raised platform stage surrounded by dozens of stage lights on poles, with few props. He starts by arriving late and telling a story about being stuck in a line at Starbucks. Spoilers - skip to the last paragraph or two if you don't want to know half the plot. He lists the characters in advance, and we find their stories interacting - kid Kevin has to spend Saturday with his drunk father Mike, because baby-sitter / astrologer Arin (formerly female Erin) has a date with the lawyer Susan who's available because client Warren is skipping out on a meeting with her to visit his gay ex-partner to get some stuff back. More happens after that, as the title suggests.
My big take-away was noticing MacIvor's very good story telling and acting ability, switching styles as he switched characters. Lighting is also used to give each character their own environment. The astrologer was the most serious (audience at its quietest, hazy dark blue light), the drunk father was hand waving fun (yellow sunlight), Warren was a train wreck waiting to happen (with a rapid duet argument between him and his partner showing why they are ex's, that segues into the other point of view story). The lawyer's story was classic vaudeville stand-up comedy (static movement, the funny was in the voice emphasis and rapid fire words). The kid's story had a sad and serious double meaning, using fairy tale language about the father drinking to be a little bit happier and a little bit taller but with the curse that drinking too much of the potion is poison. The kid's story ends up blaming Will (willpower or unthinking desire) for the bad things, so the giant squishes the little man that comes out of the door in his forehead. That made for some good philosophical meat on the story bones. Maybe that's why he had the philosophy textbook in his hand at the start of the show.
Overall, very enjoyable for the performance and the meatier things to think about. Worth seeing again in a year or two.
P.S. Dangling story thread: why didn't the Goths in the soccer swamp get
A good comedy about trailer park people and the meaning of life. One woman wonders if there's more to life than living in a trailer park with her couch potato husband, worrying her friend since childhood about her malaise. They both see Jesus (or Willie Nelson) in the shadows a street light casts through a butchered hedge on the refrigerator door. Could it be a sign? Things get out of control when it gets publicity and they have lots of visitors. The husband is awoken from his couch with ideas for exploiting the attention, the childhood friend channels messages from god through the refrigerator (destroying a satanic video store), and the woman is worried that it's wrong. The sign does change their lives and gives them a better understanding of what they already have. Most notable is Susan Nugent for being most in character as the childhood friend. Also notable are the weeds growing under the trailer porch and pickup truck being repaired in the neighbour's lot. Lightly amusing, average OLT, worth seeing once.
P.S. I like the new gray gradient tiles pattern carpet. Their fundraiser
of selling off square feet of the carpet for doodling on is obviously now
Dean Jenkinson from Winnipeg warmed up the audience for the first half hour, the best part being his story about taking an airplane flight in northern Canada, which has quite casual security checks when compared to the usual commercial airlines.
Brent Butt did an hour of material, where we learned he has a 27 inch
head, likes hot dogs, and and avoids political bias in his jokes. He was
quite good at getting the audience to suggest topics, which he'd then talk on
in a humourous way, after a few seconds pause to think of a strategy. That
takes lots of brains, which could explain the large hat size.
A murder mystery in the rectory. Wife of the rector, played by Cindy
Beaton did a good job of being nervous and paranoid about the staff. The
character Peter was acted with exagerated gestures and motions, which later
turned out to be part of the plot, so I can't complement the actor on acting
extremely, but John Eric Ladd did a good job acting as if he was acting
extremely. The surprising part of the set was the rain outside the window.
Everyone in our group noticed that it sounded really realistic, and when the
lights went up, it was obvious - they were using falling water, not a sound
Another fine game show battle between Orpheus, Suzart and Sheridan. Tied
up near the end, with lots of help from the audience (they got most of the
trivia) until Sheridan broke ahead with the last song and a great performance
on the spot with just sheet music. Second and third tie broken by an extra
question, which Suzart got right. Judges Kathleen Petty, Yvan Pednault and
MP Paul Dewar (came despite there being an election on) spiced up their
answers with details about what they liked, and they liked a lot (lots of 10s
A play based on interviewing people at a homeless shelter for youth in Toronto and condensing it down to the essentials. There are five actors. One is the interviewer, played as an awkward kid in sneakers by Andrew Kushnir (the real playwright and an interviewer). The other four barefooted actors portray various clients and staff at the shelter, switching characters with a brief duck of their head. They're quite good - you can easily recognise the different people by posture, mannerism and talking style after a switch. The set is a bright white oval slightly raised and tilted towards the audience, making a brightly lit area on the stage. There's an imaginary outside and inside boundary at the oval's edge, manifested by the characters raising a hand to be buzzed in or out by an invisible door guard. The interviewer asks his questions from the stairs and rear of the theatre, while the audience mostly watches the stage and four main actors.
The stories teased out from the inhabitants are as you'd expect, a mixture
of relationship drama (talked about, not distractingly shown since it's an
interview), dealing with a tough life (pregnancy, crime, work), plans for the
future, and a few ice breaking questions (what would you do with $10k?). Out
of this comes a picture of bad parents and broken children (most trying to
make things better but many with obstacles of all sorts). The child-parent
relationship can be surprisingly strong, though only to the non-deadbeat
A group of men are fresh volunteers and we see the usual stereotypes and a
few new ones about Irish men and in particular the Protestant side of
Christianity interacting (tough guys, hate for Catholics, loyalty to the
king, different classes). War gives them the usual worries about death,
crisis of faith, and causes mental colapse. Lots of opportunity for acting,
though the topic isn't that interesting to me. However, the ending is very
dramatic, with the men going over the top (good trench set - a tall wall
crossing the whole stage that they have to climb) in a red lit theatre
filling cloud of smoke.
A surprisingly good play (given other negative reviews), at least for me, about an old card magician named Dai (David) Vernon (Verner). But then perhaps it was the classroom/theatre atmosphere at the beginning (lighting, big red curtains, and audience interaction that reminds you that there are many other people here, all watching) that got things off on the right foot.
It runs mostly chronologically, with flashbacks from the lecture (done as Pierre Brault being an audience member who's asked by DV to play the role of DV's father and other characters, since he's read all of DV's books and knows his stories). There's a fun bit where Brault tunes his accent to be more Scottish/Irish to match DV's mother's voice.
In the lecture, DV is an old man, with shaking hands and mannerisms. But Massingham drops that later on, presumably because he's running in flashback time. Though he could have used a bit more shakiness and oldness at the very end when we find out that the lecture has just been the imagination of a senile and forgetful DV, in his apartment.
There are some good lighting tricks with smoked glass and mirrors, so you sometimes see the surface as a mirror where DV is practising his tricks and at other times you can see through it and once it was both. That was nifty, with Pierre Brault playing the father doing a simple trick on one side of the surface and DV as himself as a child playing with the objects in the virtual reflection. The childhood scenes also have some old Victorian Ottawa colour, to the amusement of Ottawa locals.
It's a legend rather than a biography so you have an overly sweet coincidence where the elusive "center deal" card trick is found in a Kansas City gambler whose great uncle happens to have written the card book that Dai Vernon worships. The story rolls along, covering DV's rising importance, marriage to a nice pair of ankles, too much obsession with card tricks, domestic problems with ignoring his wife and not spending much time earning money, the hunt for the center deal trick, the breakup of his marriage (wife drinking in response to problems, kid ignored too even when wounded by wife). The only gap in the time line is the part after the breakup, where we can assume he had many decades of enjoyment as a professor of magic tricks.
Worth seeing if you like a story and some fine acting. Though I suspect
that the story may appeal more to men than women.
When I first saw the stage with a forest (black branch silhouettes, tall rectangles, tall panels of fairy tale words at the sides) and three little houses on it, I thought of the three little pigs, and indeed one house was brick and another wood. Instead it was a reflection of Stephen Sondheim's writing style; several parallel stories happening at once, this time Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack of Beanstalk fame and Rapunzel. The parallel structure also shows up as group songs where the characters from the different stories are simultaneously singing about their identically themed but separate troubles.
The first half of the show followed the Brothers Grimm fairy tale interpretation more closely than Disney would. Besides the happy ending, it keeps gruesome things that children like such as birds pecking out the eyes of Cinderella's mean sisters. It wasn't totally Grimm since separate plots were fleshed out and joined to make this play, so you see things such as the baker from Rapunzel buying Jack's cow for some possibly magical beans.
Act 1 is motivated by the baker and his wife running around the woods, trying to get four ingredients for the witch, who will in return lift an anti-fertility curse on them. The ingredients included a red cloak, a pure as gold slipper, yellow hair and a milky white cow. As the audience can guess, these are items from four famous fairy tales. This leads to scenes where the wife is chasing after Cinderella, trying to get her slipper. Or a scene where the cash-less baker is hunting through his pockets to find something to give to Jack for a cow.
Skipping over several stories, we get to Red Riding Hood (MacKenzie Salhany) after she has been eaten by a wolf (by the way, really good wolf's head costume with quite big white teeth) and saved by the baker. She has become a tough, scary and street (woods) smart kid, threatening strangers with her self defense knife. She also now wears the wolf's skin rather than the red cloak (snatched up by the baker). This impresses Jack, who wants to impress her so he goes and steals the giant's magic harp and gold egg laying chicken, ending up killing the pursuing giant by chopping down the beanstalk.
At the end of Act 1, all the stories have been happily resolved, at least from the point of view of their main characters. They got their wishes.
The second half shows what happens a couple of years later. In Act 2, a carelessly discarded bean provides a path for the dead giant's wife to come down from the sky for revenge. The princes are still dashing, but after other women (some girl guarded by disgusting dwarves, and a sleeping woman in a glass box) rather than their wives Rapunzel and Cinderella. The baker and wife have a child but are fighting about the size of their house.
Things fall apart from then on. Even the narrator gets sacrificed. But to no avail, people die, houses are crushed, castles are crushed. There's a particularly gruesome spot where the baker's wife is squished, though that's done off-stage with just a sound effect. Only a bit of planning and some helpful birds bring down the giantess. The survivors have an ending of their own by grudgingly forming a new family, with the baker, Jack, Red and Cinderella.
A few notes about the production. The cow was a scene stealer. Instead of just a static prop, they had a life size cow (prop designer Sam Smith's responsibility) that could move around (hindquarters on wheels, rear legs cranked by them), and act (front legs of actor, eye blinks, neck swings, mouth opens - good for eating magic ingredients). At the curtain call we got to see Susanna Atkinson step out of her cow. She did a great job of puppeteering, even playing patty-cake with Jack in the background while his mother was nagging him about selling the cow. And of course, there's a marvellous dance scene.
The play doesn't have any main star roles but I did notice Grame Parke as a very good Jack - not too smart but happy and very alive. He's also a newcomer to Orpheus, around half the cast is newcomers for this show!
Others also were quite good. Shaun Toohey did some fine acting as the baker. I particularly liked the way he stayed in character while he retrieved a bun and cookies dropped by Red Riding Hood (she's a good woods punk, but no juggler). Nicole Milne was a great witch, and quite attractive as a defrocked witch (costumes and makeup no doubt added to that). Coincidentally both are also in Zucchini Grotto. Emily Reid also was notable as the baker's wife. Even the stage hands were better than usual, disguised as ogres (lying quietly against the set they are responsible for during the action) rather than just dressed in black. Maybe that's why actors like Sondheim so much - there are so many juicy roles, where not only the stars get a chance to shine, and the whole cast did shine or at least glowed strongly; nobody flamed out.
Rapunzle's tower was amazing. It filled the stage right up to the ceiling, with its cute wood shingled roof way up in the rafters. Apparently the whole thing is made of Styrofoam blocks, assembled then cut with a hot wire into rough stone shapes, then painted and heavily fire proofed. Inside is, I was told, a spiral staircase leading up to the window that Rapunzel looks out from. That was also the scene of the only noticeable glitch - the lighting guys failed to light her, so you saw an eerie figure in the dark window, with streams of hair spilling out. Lighting made up for it near the end with a well lit scene where Cinderella and Red are on stage in one spot and Jack and the baker are on the stage stairs, lit with a pattern of sunlight and forest leaf shadows.
The play does bring up some moral points. There's a blame cycle where everyone is following the chain of causality that lead to the giantess arriving and pointing out the part that someone else played. Another point is that the giantess is a person too, who helped Jack at first, before Jack stole from the giants and then killed her husband. So who's the bad guy now?
Costumes looked excellent, with the usual fantasy ball gowns taken to the next level. Even the wolf was dressed up, as a very toothy stylish dandy who happened to have a lot of body fur. He (Dennis van Staalduinen) did a good on the spot in-character improvisation when interviewed by a TV evening news channel, wish I had the link for it. One notable costume was Cinderella's mother, a tree. The bottom part was a stump (on a platform moved by stage ogres), her gown was under lighting that made it look like forest shadows, branches stuck out here and there, and it was all topped with a lit halo around her hair. Sets, props, makeup, hair, lighting, costume departments all in one!
While the show was well performed and fun to watch, it wasn't as
entertaining as my recent favourite, The Producers. I suspect
that's because the play follows a group rather than a main character, and has
losses that affect the characters. It's funny when the stepsisters get
blinded, because we think they're bad. Not funny when the baker's wife gets
squished, because we think she's good, even though she did dally with a
prince. Many people have noticed this about Sondheim's works. Contrast him with the
more commercially successful Andrew Lloyd Webber, who I suspect favours
stories with a central character you can get involved in, rather than
following a village. Sondheim wins awards for original work, Webber is
popular. So, summing up, worth seeing once for the spectacle.
A fun play, keeping the audience laughing. It's about a pair of couples, putting on false faces to get along with their friends, but really hating each other for assorted reasons and falling in love with the wrong people despite obvious mismatches. The bulk of it revolved around negative opinions about the other people, often revealed by talking disparagingly about something (like the lack of a driveway or the kitchen paint colour) with a spouse and then saying the opposite to the person when they show up, just to be polite.
The play was helped tremendously by the good character acting (for
example, facial expressions of anguish by Dale MacEachern), that made you
follow the thrust and ripost of their snide verbal attacks with interest.
Two years later after divorces and switched partners, the group meets again
and they have new peeves about each other, particularly after falling in love
and then finding they don't like the person. "It's funny because it's true"
may apply in reverse to the many people who gave it a standing ovation;
perhaps there were a lot of people who experienced subterfuge and divorce in
Starting out a bit weak (the mens' voices weren't quite theatrically authoritive), this play got going by the second half. Maybe the women were better at throwing their voices? Lots of words, well performed. The setting had been changed to British India rather than England, making the different social circles in the country and city seem a bit more separated. The servants were Indian, and there was some sitar music at times, particularly at the big ending done in a Bollywood dance style. I should really describe the play, but I've run out of time.
For the light bulb count, it went from 3 out to 1 (and it's missing, not
just dark), additionally with one ceiling still light burnt out (if what I'm
seeing above the audience is actually a fixture).
Some similarity to last time, but with more death - such as the children
of a man dying from bleeding internals, who are more concerned with his fate
than he is.
Great comedy. My favourite of the series. Worth seeing again because it's so funny and has so much content. It starts with an unemployed man in a suit holding a cardboard sign that says "Hire Me!" After a bit of flirting with the audience (good use of facial expressions to show hope and disappointment), a second suit comes up with a sign that says he'll work for $600,000, held upside down. Obviously a high level executive.
The theme is the 2008 recession. The two actors then simulate TV news reports from the BBC, with marvellous shifts in expression and voices (and jumping around or turning backs to simulate camera cuts) as they interview financial experts and people who lost their livelihood from around the world - German trader with hair that he keeps on flipping out of his eyes (simulated with fingers), stoic Japanese, Australian, swearing New Yorker and so on.
There's a congressional hearing with Dick Fuld from Lehman Brothers. The questioning politician tries to ask him if it is unfair that he took all the money while shareholders and clients lost everything. Fuld just replies with details about salary numbers, but whenever wealth is mentioned, he subtly licks his lips. The audience noticed.
For a bit of a side story and fantasy excursion, we follow two Toronto (pronounced humourously Brittishly by the BBC reporters) financial management men on a window ledge. After they discover each other (after some dangerous looking ledge walking and last thoughts), they jump (accidentally) together. We see them falling with ties fluttering in the wind, but then they manage to spread wings and fly, ending up in Heaven. There they have a good innocent time, until they start a feast that ends up as cannibalism, and have problems paying their restaurant bill.
Lacking money, they pull out a banking card and use that to get cash. Lots of cash - flying out onto the stage. Which they then greedily grab. After some fighting and excreting of money (how symbolic), they end up in hell. There the Devil grabs them on his trident and tosses them around. They play both the Devil (a two actor job - providing horns and cleft feet) rapidly switching with the men in suits. Then they resume their fall and go splat onto Bay Street.
But they don't die, and soon all the news media (in all different languages) are reporting about the miracle on Bay Street. We have a interview with the holy financial men (one calmly staying still except for his finger tracing infinity signs and the other in some sort of bug-eyed religious trance). There's a marvellous Rapidfire panel discussion of the holy financial men, with the two actors portraying the whole panel getting into a violent argument about the meaning of the holy financial duo. The two then leave earth, and when there are signs of financial recovery, there are reports of people sighting them. The show ends with the two catching a train near Toronto and heading out, hobo style, done as a Charlie Chaplin silent film.
An amazing amount of material in one show (written by Dean Gilmour,
Michele Smith and the two actors), which alone makes it worth seeing again.
Additionally it's quite topical. The acting by Adam Paolozza and Ravi Jain
is very good, they're masters of timing, movement and expression, not to
mention voices! Worth seeing a few more times.
The audience loved it, I'm out of time so you should be able to find a
good review elsewhere.
A bit confusing but not sleep inducing arrangement of stories about four
people and their relationships. Confusing because it's all lies - stories
made up by François as he re-tells the events as a movie. Good use of
projected images on the stage rear to set the scene from the movie point of
view. Also used a brick wall with a big window of transparency to change
from a coffee shop (showing shelves of cups) to a hotel desk (rows of
Amazing what you can do with one actor stuck in a US border interrogation room, with nothing but a one way mirror to talk to. His chatter about being caught with too much cash while crossing the border leads to stories that reveal his true reason for being there. The hot little room periodically suffers an attack of some sort, moving things around and depositing items that prompt our actor's character to explain more. The appearance of some dice make him tell the story of getting a Player's Club card at the local casino for the free parking, so he can visit his young daughter in Canada more cheaply. That changes to the towel he gave her, which also doubles as a craps table. By the end, the heat has ramped up and the water cooler disappeared, when we find he's there because his daughter died while neglected for hours in a hot car. His hot bureaucratic Hell was reached by suicide on the Falls, but that heat is negligible compared to the pain he feels inside.
It's a good point of view story, but I don't feel too sympatheric since
the main character seems to be quite stupid in getting himself into trouble.
He doesn't know the odds behind casino gambling (and he idiotically plays 3
card Monty where he loses, rather than Craps where he at least has some
skill). His anger and selfishness do him in too (as well as the Casino's
easy credit policy). Shouting at his young daughter doesn't impress me.
Fortunately the odds are quite low that people are that stupidly bad, maybe
less than one in a million? No? It does
happen, though in Canada it is the cold that kills too. Hmmm, maybe more
often than that, CBC
reports "About once a month, children are left alone in vehicles in B.C.
casino parking lots while their parents gamble, according to B.C. Lottery
Corporation documents obtained by the CBC through an access to information
request." Looks like this play is more relevant than I thought!
Nice to see a particularly boyish Margo MacDonald again as Eva, with Sarah
Finn as Josephine, in a well acted show about a lesbian actress in 1930's New
York city. It's essentially a biography, told in out of chronological order
slices of time. The main topic is Eva's affair with Josaphine (attaching,
divorcing husband, good days, breaking up, meeting years later) and the gas
explosion that disfigured Eva in the middle, but not in that order. The
scenes reveal the characters' personalities well (good acting there, perhaps
that's why it got good reviews at the Fringe Festival), but unfortunately
don't form an enthralling story line for me (or the tendency to doze off
could be due to a sleepy afternoon show time).
The best show of the day in my opinion. Lots of physical action, all about falling down in the name of science.
Two blackboards, one with a legend of abbreviations for falling styles (FSp - free fall with a spin, FC - partial fall with a catch, and dozens more, including the very long duration Japanese Butoh fall) and a second one with equations using those codes. So if you see AM*20FC means Andy Massingham will do 20 falls with a catch. The actors are truely heroic or crazy for punishment in this play about a scientific experiment testing some theory or other on the human guinnea pigs. The off scene scientist dispassionately tells them which trial to run, they do the falls and related actions (fall while hugging the other subject, Julie Le Gal, or while talking, or while climbing stairs). After each experiment, they might take their pulse rate and write the results on the blackboard chart section, or draw chalk outlines on the green floor for the fall positions.
After one long run of three experiments (one of which has the 20FC entry -
I counted and they did indeed do that many), the scientist tells them that he
didn't get good data and they have to do the whole run over again. This is
over 30 getting up and falling on the ground actions. You groan, and they do
it all, all of it, ending up with Andy's bald head turning quite sweaty and
Julie yet more bruised and with a bleeding elbow (bruises on the shoulder
noticable while taking bows at the end of the show). Yet the second run of
seemingly random moves (the sequences of falling over a box with a couple of
wooden steps, in time to a metronome, is wonderful) is repeated exactly,
making me think of actors performing a play. There is some off-experiment
talk as the English speaking Andy develops a crush on the French Julie, with
suitably Canadian language misinterpretation at times. And there's that
wedding dress in the filing cabinet drawer. But the fun is seeing them put
falling safely training to good use.
An enjoyable two character play. The foundation is the excellent writing of Joanna McClelland Glass about a young woman taking on the job of private secretary to elderly judge Francis Biddle. Jim McNabb played the old man quite well; with limps and other characteristics of age. The script provided some of them too, including repeated questions and forgetfulness as the judge's condition worsened. Sara Duplancic played Sarah Schorr the secretary, with 1960's style hair, dress and polite deference, which breaks appropriately when the judge's unfairness and bullying becomes too much for a sensible Saskatchewan girl. She cries at a couple of emotional points when the judge matter-of-factly mentions some of his work while writing his memoirs (the judge had pointed out the bathroom as a place for crying), such as his regret for the Japanese internment laws during World War II.
The theme of the play is "trying", trying to get along with each other. They did succeed, with reconciliation after the bullying outbreak. A year later were getting along well, with Sarah taking on much of the work (cheque writing, letter enhancement) that the judge could no longer do quickly.
The set was good too. It's a former stable (suitably framed with huge timber support beams - were they real?), outfitted with plenty of 1950's items. I particularly liked the black and white photos of the judge and colleagues at important events/conferences on the wall. They also had nice wooden filing cabinets, an ancient Dictaphone, gas powered metal heater boxes (you can tell that Sarah had won the judge's trust when you see her adjusting them), and just one desk lamp that looked too modern.
Worth seeing once, and maybe again in a decade or so to refresh the memory.
This was an unusually fun play simulating a radio show doing the story from the It's a Wonderful Life film. Notable elements:
It was better than previous radio show productions, perhaps because the
story from the film added more to it. It seems to have been sold out too;
there were even people in the wings, on second last night. But you can also
see the end of the Gladstone era as maintenance winds down, with 3 candelabra
bulbs (one last show, usually none) and one ceiling light burnt out.
A fun show about a company performing the Christmas Carol badly and in
fear of having their funding cut. Good looking set on stage with real
theatre seats in front of a stage on the stage. Memorable points are the
English actress switching to a southern US drawl (Charlotte Stewart is a
voice expert in real life). The newly hired (for "multicultural" reasons,
meaning in the USA's culture that he was dark skinned) actor without time to
learn the lines converting the future ghost's children of poverty and
ignorance into the turkey's dark and white meat. Mark Sparks used his strong
voice and directness to portray that actor trying to be serious about his
role while under pressure. Christine Drew (an acquaintance) had a big part
this time, including a funny scene where she tries to be sexy in a red dress
to seduce the supposed inspector from the funding agency. J. Taylor Morris
was pretty good as a really bad actor / presumed inspector. So was Louis
Lemire as the bored political actor, trying to alter things in crazy ways to
make a statement, helped by 1960's hippie hair. Finally, the finale was
memorable too, both the big stage disaster and the revived inspector. A good
show, going above average in the second half.
I tested out my recommendation that the play was worth seeing twice by going to see it again, dragging along my mom this time. Yes it is worth seeing twice. I noticed a few new things - the details of acting, foreshadowing and what the chorus was doing.
The acting details happened first, because I somehow didn't engage with the flow of the story until a bit later than usual, so I observed Andy Massingham's crazy eye movements and Emmanuelle Zeesman's enthusiastic glances and stares at her hero. Guess that's acting - doing things wildly enough to be visible to people at the back of the theatre. Or maybe that's just due to sitting in the front row.
I also paid more attention to what the chorus was doing, which most people will only subconsciously pick up since their attention is on the main characters. The chorus is always on "I's" side, supporting his opinions. They watch him with adoration (and violin music) while he tells his story about growing up in a grass hut in London. They thump books to emphasise points when he's talking about Literature. They react in pain when Eugenia gets carried away numbering the characters that should be in a play. I noticed that they start bumping into Eugenia more often as she gets ensnared by "I's" teaching, another sign of "I's" increasing influence.
In the foreshadowing department, "I" warns about his brainwashing, proudly claiming that he writes things to "capture the reader". Maybe this play should be thought of as a paranormal horror story. As well, in his book of rules, there are 40 chapters (I suspect one for each previously captured aspiring writer) and he's adding a new one soon. One minor production difference is that the door number didn't change from 41 to 1 this time, maybe that was too cute.
The young writer finds her own voice because she wants to write a play where the lead character is a woman. In retrospect this is more obviously the factor that frees her from "I's" influence. He claims to have already written every possible plot, but literally can't understand what she's saying when she's asking him about the lead being a woman. Maybe her play is about a woman having to surpass the old male establishment, much like this play, maybe it is this play.
I also talked with David Hersh a bit in the lobby before the show and
found out that most of the chorus is made up of volunteers, except the two
leads who stuck around the whole time during preproduction. As well, the
ending is actually a new one, not one of the seven he initially had written.
Finally, a lot of this is inspired by Eugène Ionesco's The
Lesson, with some flipped references such as the bearded tenor instead
of the bald soprano. Ripping out the skeleton from that play and fleshing it
out with a huge chorus worked really well!
"I" is a witty and funny absurd play, about writing a play. A young woman named Eugenia (enthusiastically and energetically played by Emmanuelle Zeesman) moves to Paris to write the best play ever, hoping to be inspired by working in the room formerly inhabited by her favourite playwright. She's read all of "I's" plays many times over as a child, and won't read any other author's works until she's understood them completely. I'm not sure that's wise, but then "I" is so famous that he's known by just his first name's initial letter.
Surprisingly, and despite the warning to lock the door, Eugenia lets in an absent minded bald headed stranger in academic robes, who turns out (after some roundabout questioning) to be "I", played with a superior but not too pompous attitude by Andy Massingham. He agrees to mentor Eugenia and they start right away. "I" has points to make and hates being interrupted, which Eugenia can't help doing. And of course, Eugenia won't be able to write anything as good as his material.
As "I" explains things, other academically robed people come on stage, accumulating into a chorus. They initially don't do much, other than listening to "I" talk and occasionally doing double takes (making for some quite humourous moments) when Eugenia gets things wrong. She normally doesn't see them and just walks by them. They can speak (Eugenia won't be able to hear them), but usually don't (afterward I found out that they originally had lots of dialog but it was hard to hear what so many people were simultaneously saying so lots of it got off-loaded to "I"). A nice bit of depth is added by a violin player (David Whitely I think) who reacts in an amused benevolent way to Eugenia's mistakes, and there are one or two other musical ones mixed in with the additional chorus members.
However, as the chorus grows and grows, they start filling up the stage and swamp Eugenia's space. When the crowd gets big enough, Eugenia does get pushed around, lifted up and carried around, then sucked down and devoured by a sea of hands.
My theory is that every time Eugenia gives in to "I's" way of thinking, another chorus guy shows up. For example, when "I" asks her to choose between tragedy and comedy, the correct answer is tragedy because it makes people happier at the end of the play, like torture being ended. Comedy is sad because the fun stuff stops at the end of the play. If Eugenia's mind gets changed to this, then another chorus member gets created. Several other people thought the chorus men were different versions of "I" from earlier times. The playwright suggested in the talk-back that they were former aspiring writers who visited that room and got consumed by "I's" way of writing instead of finding their own voice.
There's also a wonderful discussion on how many characters to have - 3 seems to be the number, but Eugenia carried the odd number rule to larger values (conveniently at that moment there are 13 on stage). The original play was slated to have a chorus of 40 men (a bit of a counterweight to the one woman!) since it would be a nice big group, though in practice the show only has 26 (the Gladstone stage isn't that big). Of course, this is somewhat uneconomical in a professional theatre, but when all your acting friends hear about it and want to be in the show, it's practical as a volunteer operation.
At the end, the playwright (he's also the director) choose a satisfying ending from the seven that he'd originally written. Eugenia finds her own voice and starts actually writing (before she just sat at the typewriter staring at a blank page, and had never actually written a play). That triggers a number of events - the concierge changes the room number from 41 to 1, the chorus melts away and "I" starts losing words - Andy Massingham did a good job of speaking loudly with gaps of silence.
Quite a fun and witty play, worth seeing again in my opinion. I'll verify
The play is a look at World War I from the point of view of four Canadian survivors of the attack on Vimy Ridge. It starts with their stay in a field hospital under the care of a Bluebird nurse, where we discover the nature of each soldier's wounds, their personality, and a bit about the nurse and her story. Time starts jumping between different points in the past, with a conversation or other event in the hospital turning into a scene from the soldier's life in Canada - going canoeing with a friend, digging water supply tunnels, signing up with the army. Some of the actors switch parts when this happens - becoming the brother or a friend of the soldier remembering the past. All of this brings out familiar regional differences between Canadians - Western from Winnipeg, Indian, French Quebec, Ontarian, East coaster. Though they may disagree on the name or brand, they all like hockey and beer.
Time advances to the preparations for the battle for Vimy Ridge, with lower rank troops actually receiving maps of the area (unusual at the time) and time to practice maneuvers related to the attack. Of course there are lots of other preparations, like digging tunnels. Time remaining goes from three months down to smaller and smaller chunks, where they have to do different tasks, until it's 5 minutes before and we're waiting with the troops underground. Time now stretches out tremendously as they wait, with a candle for light, a cigarette to smoke and some rum to drink before the battle, stuck under the wooden plank walkway set which has become a cramped tunnel ceiling. The director did a good job of making the time stretch here.
We see the different parts of the battle - one guy gets stuck in a crater and claws his way over dead bodies to get out, another is stuck in the middle of gunfire from all sides for a day. But they all run into trouble - a gas attack fells one (horrendously fulfilling an earlier vision of fire with green light), stray bullets another and we now know why they're in the hospital. There is a bit of afterwards: one gets a commendation for saving another soldier, one doesn't make it out of the hospital.
One thing I noticed was that the sound effects quality (choice of sound, volume levels, spatial placement) was much above average and very effective for setting the atmosphere of different places and times. Perhaps that's a side effect of being a joint production. The set was also of decent quality, serving multiple purposes (cliff, tunnel, hospital) with deluxe minimalist style, though the lighting could be a large part of that. Our neighbouring audience member who does volunteer work as a war museum interpreter noted the accuracy of the beds and uniforms.
One other noteable point: the characters frequently said they had memories stuck inside themselves. I think is a reference to Remembrance Day, though it accidentally sounds a lot like a recent NAC slogan about the theatre inside.
Go and see it for a well engineered production on a serious topic that's
also quite interesting to watch, particularly if you're from Canada.
A nicely entertaining musical about Orphan Annie of comic strip fame.
About 10 children and a golden retriever dog are the stars of the show, with Sophia Rathwell-Swettenham carrying the load of the lead orphan Annie quite ably. Trevor Houle as Daddy Warbucks does a good acting job of showing true affection towards Annie. Barb Seabright-Moor plays the mean orphanage operator Miss Hannigan in a way that does homage to the film performance of that role by Carol Burnett.
The story is a simple heartwarming one, set in the 1930's depression, about an orphan finding a home and a new family, which I won't describe to avoid spoiling things.
Of course there are lots of musical numbers in all sorts of different settings. They include a rooftop scene of many unemployed people around a fire barrel being cheered up by Annie, a paean about New York City by Warbucks, and a radio show and a reprise imitation of it by the orphanage girls, and more than a dozen other ones. The set makers did a decent job, with a skyline of buildings with lit windows and moveable sets (Warbucks's stylish place with the fancy fireplace was the best one). Another impressive one was a drop-down overlay of illuminated signs for New York City (Bar, hotel, etc) done as light bulbs (neon signs first were used for advertising in the USA in 1923 so they could have used those too). Costumes and props did the job - depressing dingy faded floral prints for the orphan costumes were notable for not being notable. FDR's wheelchair was quite an old model; I wonder where they got it from.
If you see the play a second time, watch the orphans listening to the radio show (the audience is mostly watching the brightly lit show on the other side of the stage) and you'll notice that they're reacting to it and playing their characters even though they are out of the spotlight. They're doing things like pulling up their cheeks with their fingers to make a really big smile during the dental advertisement. I also noticed that one of the girls had on black shoes while the rest were beige. After the radio show finished, the attention focused back on the orphans reprising the radio show, and that included a tap-dance segment by the little girl with black shoes, Elliza Bowie I think.
The most noticeable glitch in the opening night performance was when Annie's wig of fancy curls started bouncing and sliding off her head while she was energetically performing. Warbucks surreptitiously slid it back in place when he was near Annie, staying in character with an affectionate smile. The other big glitch was a missing window in Warbuck's house, apparently due to the stage hands missing a cue. They did the smart thing by not dropping it in during that act - I and most people didn't notice it wasn't there. The rooms just looked more full in later acts.
To sum up, it's worth seeing for the entertainment factor.
Wingfield is just as great as ever. I thought it was kind of ordinary
until the story got going, then it was Rod Beattie's marvellous character
portrayals in combination combined with my imagination that brought the world
to life. The script was no slouch either, besides moving things along well,
Dan Needles has kept with the times so now you have a cell phone coordinated
cattle roundup which goes wrong, and references to an exit strategy if
climate change makes the farm dry up. That's the main theme of this one -
drought. But it's alleviated by reuniting lost things, lost water and lost
people. Worth seeing again. Particularly if you're from Canada and can get
cultural references (like the NDP noise).
This play is a Halloween ghost story told appropriately in an old manor house formerly inhabited by some of Canada's prime ministers.
Before describing the play, I should mention the location (with thanks to the staff who opened up the building for the show), which adds greatly to the atmosphere of the production. Laurier House is an old Victorian (Second Empire style) house built in 1879, 7 years after the play takes place. We went up the red carpeted stairs to the second floor landing, which was big enough to hold 4 rows of 7 wooden chairs (with thin pillows) for the audience. The actors performed in front of us and up and down the stairs. The dark wood panelling in the staircase area takes you back to an older time, both in look and in the scent of old wood. If you know the history, then you'll have the added bonus of knowing about the séances and crystal ball used nearby by one prime minister. The lighting is also part of the atmosphere, with floor lights illuminating the walls all up and down the stairs and a couple of spot lights for the main area in front of the audience. When the lights fade out, we're left in in cozy warm (steam heated) darkness, except for worries about what else may be out there, unseen.
Kate Smith plays the governess who runs into ghostly trouble with her two children. Kris Joseph ably plays everyone else, from the absent uncle, house keeper, right down to the boy (looking like Dobby while acting small). Since the staging is so limited, I found myself imagining the scene more than usual - such as a 3 story brown sandstone tower that the a ghost was seen on in a stormy night. Other people imagined different types of stone.
As we're sitting very close to the actors, we were able to inspect their clothing in more detail. You notice things like a watch chain, the shape of the buttons on a blouse, shoes which need polishing, or cloth that looks too new, more than you would otherwise. Overall, those period costumes fitted their roles quite well. We also thank the actors for not accidentally spitting while speaking loudly.
SPOILERS: The story puts the newly employed young governess in charge of the manor house, with strange orders not to contact the master. She starts off well enough, making friends with the mute daughter. But then the evil (or abused or inappropriately trained) 10 year old son shows up, kicked out of school for saying something naughty. The stress on the governess builds up as she finds out more about the death of the previous governess and the valet and how they influenced the children in bad ways, perhaps with too much sex out in the open. She starts seeing ghosts of people who match the description of the former governess and valet, even though there are supposedly no pictures of them. She has to defend the children, to stop the ghosts from attracting them away to a watery death in the lake, or worse possessing them for carnal purposes. Or maybe the children are playing with the governess's mind, going out into the garden and staring up at the roof as if someone was there. This ambiguity has made the original novel attractive to literary critics, trying to decide if the governess really saw the ghosts or was insane. The end result was brutal, with the daughter sent to an insane asylum and the son dying in the governess's arms (climactic ghost exorcism or just crushed to death?). The governess moves on, always looking for pairs of children. Is she now working as a matchmaker for the ghosts?
An entertaining little play, worth going to for the cozy atmosphere.
A very entertaining and funny farce of a Halloween sort. Good haunted
house set (not just spider webs but puffs of dust from people and things
touching the furniture). Josh Sparks did a very good job of being crazy,
even after the show when the actors were taking their bows. Good scary hair
and costume for Tina Prud'homme in her role as car accident victim mistaken
for a zombie. Had me thinking the women in white was a ghost right to the
end, though I suspected something was up with the gun a bit earlier. The
audience agreed that it was entertaining - breaking out into laughter and
applause quite a few times. Worth seeing once for the surprise of the
mystery, then a few years later when you've forgotten the details but still
remember that it was good.
Very good Shakespeare, surprisingly audible and more understandable (who
the characters are and their relationships) for a performance by a single guy
in front of an audience with no amplification, at least from the front row.
My only regret is that he doesn't do distinctive body language as well as
I've seen others do; so sometimes you can't tell which character he is
playing when he's having a conversation. It's interesting for the
Shakespearean core - the words in action, but not particularly entertaining
for the casual viewer. Though because it is done with words, some things
become more prominent and funnier, like the speech by Polonius about how
Laertes should behave in life. Wish I could write more about Raoul Bhaneja's
marvellous performance (and understanding Shakespeare better) but I'm busy at
work this weekend.
As usual the first show of the season is lots of fun. A surprisingly
large cast did justice to this translation of a French farce. Good acting,
good comic timing (culminating in the dramatic pile-up of people at the end
of the second act). Though some of the players were hard to understand, like
the guy who speaks only vowels :-), or the Spanish hot tempered husband with
a gun. The French Canadian hotel guest who nobody could understand (French
French is different) was a third. Good set too, and it's fun to watch the
change in one of the two intermissions. Unfortunately I'm busy at work this
week so there isn't time to write much more, so you'll just have to go out
and have an enjoyable time yourself.
An unusual ticket taking procedure (at the front door, before the show) flowed into the audience entering behind and around the stage (a giant window frame looking onto fields with distant mountains, and one near tree), making them appear to be a crowd passing by the window to the people already in their seats.
This play was another one in the depressing slice of life category, but this time it was about being a housewife stuck in a house and raising children (except on joyous Wednesdays when day-care took them) rather than the usual gritty and stupid (like spending money on drinking) poverty situation.
She's made mistakes and realises that, but her overly compulsive neatness personality locks her into making more. She starts with admitting to moving to the country to get her husband's undivided affections, which just made him tired from commuting and her tired from raising three children. She now hates living in the country. In comparison with her sloppy neighbour Caroline (kids drawing on walls, full cloths hamper in the living room), she does spend more time cleaning up play-dough, washing things and ordering the children around, but seems less happy for it. There's a nice allusion to the balance between doing different things when she walks barefoot along the window ledge while talking about it.
That neatness uses up a lot of time so she makes up lists of things to do so she can be more efficient. There are important items, floating items (like making a dental appointment because her teeth look yellower one day) and things which get procrastinated. Unexpected events upset the lists (good handling of unexpected things is desirable but rare, in all sorts of systems). Undone list items get copied onto new lists or dropped. Some of the lists turn into songs in musical interludes during the play.
One of the unimportant items, finding the phone number for her city doctor to give to Caroline, gets dropped and Caroline dies indirectly from that due to medical sloppiness. Much like accidents in the real world (see comp.risks) it's a series of failures: no reference for a better doctor, artery got cut, blood transfusion, no anticoagulant, blood clot, lying down recommended, death. But still she blames herself. Actually, having someone that organised not find the phone number seems jarringly inconsistent to me. Particularly for a mother. Now she's stuck with helping take care of Caroline's kids. Of course, they always remember how their real mother did things in comparison to their new assistant mother.
So what's this play about? I think it's the busyness of doing so much when raising children that you lose sight of the big things. Or just don't have time to think. Most of the critics think this is a boring play (maybe because they're men), but apparently for some women who have lived that life, it can be much more significant. I didn't find the play very entertaining, but it sure was fun to write about.
Which reminds me, there were lists on pillars in the entrance hall. One
was a to-do list for the world, which while having lots of the usual worthy
things (peace, anti-pollution, education, CBC funding) missed my big one -
redundancy. One more big asteroid impact and life could be snuffed out.
I'll have to do something about that. All right, put that at the top of the
A good character play about a young woman named Isabelle who is finding her future husband along two paths. One is her fantasy love for a partly successful writer who visits her bookstore frequently to check on his sales. She's read all his books, but he doesn't remember her name. The other path is the eldest son Sam who is running the family pickle business. The pickle guy is "helped" by Hannah the matchmaker, who sets up some embarassing situations. Isabelle's bubbie (Jewish grandmother) has her own advice. After much pushing and pulling in different directions, by different people, Isabelle finally figures it out. The core of the play is that pushing and pulling - dates, a derailed romantic phone calls that turns into an interview for writing an article, relationship tensions and duties, a story about hats affecting personality, a new hat for Isabelle, then a dress. A really bad suit for Sam (obviously poor fit and apparently really bad style too). Yes, there are all sorts of odd things that make this quite a character play.
Dee Dee Butters (of Orpheus Producers Swedish fame) did a very good job of portraying Isabelle. Danielle Silverman had several stumbles over words as Bubbie, but made up for it with excellent Jewish grandmotherly actions (good writing of stereotypical lines delivered with a good accent). Cathy Nobleman was a bit crazy as Hannah the matchmaker. I'm not sure if she was also a bag lady, but she did always have a small wheeled wire cart full of things and seemed to have her office in the park, and would be really happy if she got money for her efforts. Sean Brennan (writer Tyler) and Jean-Claude Lizé (pickler Sam) were both good as the men in the story, with a neat double entendre for Tyler (was it a romantic dinner or a secretarial job offer) and hard swimming for Sam (turbulent waters stirred up by the women).
It may be stereotypical, but it is a stereotype with heart.
This one was quite a fun play. Lots of local references, live music,
funny acting (Kris Joseph was wonderfully humourous as the doctor from
Quebec), good costumes (period ones from the Prescott of 1910) and quite a
large cast (big scene at the end with added children making a big scary mob
on Spook Hill). Of the two I saw today, this is the one I enjoyed.
A decent Macbeth. Nice to see Kris Joseph in the main role, being quite
dramatic in the classical English theatre way. But it was Macbeth. Very
sunny too, glad I had the big hat and a bit of shadow from my girlfriend's
A good excuse to pump out a lot of music and dance from the 1940s. The stage hands greet visiting backup singer and pin-up girl Peggy Jones with a few tribute songs and pretend to be real singers rehearsing with her (nice number with moving around the giant poster of her in sync with the other guys moving her physically the same way, and a fun amazingly fast word song). There's a bit of tension as she flirts with the stuttering shy Patrick, well played by David daCosta.
The Andrews Sisters can't do the show but the stage hands know it by heart. With a bit of a push from Peggy after she sees them joking around with Hawaiian grass skirts, they take over the show. One of the best parts was a bit of audience participation for a driving in a jeep song and then a farewell song which one of the "privates" picked from the audience knew and was able to sing along with.
They were believably awkward as the sisters, besides wig and high heeled
shoe troubles, they awkwardly did the gyrations that women have to do (which
makes me realise how sexist those moves are). That awkwardness also made
them seem to sing less well. So when the wigs were off, it was a pleasure to
hear them singing as men again for a few more numbers. And yes, there was a
tap dance song, which the guys had to abandon to Peggy Jones (Emmanuelle
Zeesman) who showed off her skills there (and a permanent smile). As you may
guess, owner Steve Martin's dance training skills were put to good use in
making this show.
A good production at a really good site. We grabbed some take-out chicken and a couple of lawn chairs and got to the Alexander Grove Park in Stittsville shortly after the play had started. The site was magnificent, with huge pine trees shading the glade where about 150 people where sitting in a half circle in front of a stage made from stacked wooden boxes. A pleasant breeze blew away the muggy heat of the day.
The actors stayed on their toes, improvising as they interacted with the audience, while performing Shakespeare's play in the original language. Quick costume changes while ducking down behind the stage or going into a tent at the side let the cast of six cover many characters (including fairies and an ass).
Their use of water balloons for the love potion was fun, and I can see how it would help on hot days. That worked back into the play too, with complaints about wet spots in the forest amongst other references. One oddity was a balloon which exploded sideways and didn't make the actor wet!
A quite enjoyable evening. Note: chicken grease does go through paper
towels and into pants fabric.
Not much time to write a review - got thousands of photos to process from
a recent trip. The play had good Italian accents all around and tough
Italian guy attitude mannerisms for Aldo Scalicki, played by Steve Martin.
He even was the tough guy (threw out someone) when he mixed with the audience
at the beginning before starting his tale about people's crazy relationships.
Lots of talking to find the layers of relationship. Most memorable scene is
when Aldo tries to seduce his best friend Huey's ex-wife as a warm-up
requested by Huey before Huey comes to visit at midnight. Despite the
gunfire, things work out in the end.
Nice mixture of stock security and instructional phrases as an initial audio background. Good moveable pair of units each with a large hinged box on a platform which could be a gate, baggage conveyor, airline seats, security scanning station. I think the plastic box/trays for putting in items may have been the real thing, wonder how they got them out of a secure zone :-) There were several short segments, some following a few story lines: a couple in love but with paranoia problems (marijuana in the bag, sex in the bathroom), another following a first-timer with packing worries (what did she forget in her huge knapsack?), and some others, plus a room full of people in the dark who don't know what's going on except when one of them on "the list" occasionally gets taken away by a hooded figure who claims they're there to help.
I would have liked to see a bit more of what it is like from the security people's point of view - there was one segment that teased in that direction when the paranoid husband had trouble answering the question about knowing what was in his suitcase, since his wife packed it and he was being a little bit too rigid about interpreting the rules. The clerk wanted to be really sure that he didn't know since that would mean calling security, filling in lots of paperwork and putting up with security hanging around for hours.
Anyway, nice to see Kris Joseph and Gruppo
Rubato in acting again, making up for missing the fringe festival this
A good dialog/character play between three old men in a home for war
veterans in France in 1959. It's quite funny yet sadly melencholic, as they
know they are close to death. Very good character interaction (translated by
Tom Stoppard so you know its well written). Plus there's a stone statue of a
dog that sometimes gets included in their group - some of them are a bit
crazy and others are not. That makes for some odd situations, like their big
push to go to Indo-china or have a picnic, requiring roping up (it's not all
dialog) to climb the hill to the poplar trees. Nice to see our top local
actors doing such an intensive character piece. But no time for review
A good farce but with lots of over acting. That's partly because it's an
almost autobiographical slice of Noël Coward's life. It's hard to tell
what the famous actor is feeling, because he keeps on acting. Though by the
end you get the idea that he's annoyed by too many people being attracted by
his charisma, though he initially doesn't mind taking advantage of the young
female ones. Unfortunately no time to write a detailed review.
A really good production of a very well written funny play by Mel Brooks (first performed in 2001). It is the same story as the original 1968 movie with some additional material after the original end. Plot outline: accountant notices that a flop could make money by spending less than the amount raised from investors and then closing quickly, producer and accountant hunt for worst script, a terrible director and inept cast, performance is so bad it's good, jail time ensues.
The sets and costumes are very good, partly because Orpheus had a head start with some material from the Windsor Light Musical Theatre company's spring 2009 production (look for the pigeon coop and some of the outrageous symbols of Germany costumes). Partly because the Orpheus teams are good (I hear about the costume department had a dream team, and you see that in the credits where they all mention the other team members). That perhaps gave them time to do more than usual, including details like sequins on sausages.
All the sets are good, starting with the opening Broadway theatre front to establish the floppiness of Bialystock's shows, which is a forced perspective solid stage filling thing rather than just a painted backdrop. The most impressive set was for the actual show within a show, which was full of pizzazz. There were moving mountains, a wall sized eagle icon (outlined in electric lights) that splits in two to let dancers enter the stage from behind, pedestals for actors to stand on to give the scene more depth. The whole thing complements the over the top performance on the stage.
Intermediate sets were good too. One was for an accounting room where Bloom works unhappily (essentially Humans organised into a computer). I wondered why they made such solid desks/filing cabinets/half-wall cubicles for five accountants, on wheels so they can roll them on quickly while the audience watches the scene. Their secret is revealed when Bloom pulls a top hat and cane out of a filing cabinet drawer, and then a number of chorus girls (pseudo-scantily clad with lots of gold things on strings all over their costumes), pop out of the filing cabinets, all done to show how Bloom wants to be a producer rather than just a public accountant.
Even the plain office where Bloom and Bialystock work has its fancier side - it changes to a totally white set when Ulla paints it all. I found out at the opening night party that the secret is panels with Velcro, and doubles for the props.
The acting starts out well and gets better. Right at the beginning there are several background actors (cops, prostitutes, a newspaper vendor, city workers) all doing "business" with their own background stories as well as the crowd leaving the flop and complaining about it, and finally Bialystock overhearing the crowd's cruel comments. Apparently each crowd "audience" member had a role to fit the costume, such as rich Texan, or top hatted New York establishment man and his wife, which helped the actors nicely flesh out even these secondary characters.
There's quite a bit of humourous dialog and story to this show (written by Mel Brooks so it can get a bit tasteless but more the funnier), carried off well by the stars Shaun Toohey (of Zucchini Grotto singing fame) and Kodi Cannon (who I may have seen at a few Fringe shows in the past). They do a good job of the chemistry between the two characters, though Kodi is perhaps not geeky enough at the start. There's also opportunity for hamming around, as this is a Mel Brooks show it has double takes and stares galore, particularly for the Swedish bombshell Ulla.
Being a musical, there are also a lot of musical numbers (Mel Brooks also wrote the music!), and fitting everything in makes this one of the longer productions Orpheus has done. The most impressive is of course the Springtime for Hitler show within a show. It starts with symbols of traditional Germany personified - four show girls with outrageous costumes, often with side tables attached to their waist containing their symbol (beer mugs, etc) and huge headgear (beer stein, pretzel, sausage). Once they've finished their parade, they fill out the background by staying on pedestals and platforms where they can be visible and dancing but out of the way of yet more dancers filling the center of the stage. There's a huge musical number with brown shirted Nazi party members and military (swastika arm-bands didn't get censored) tap dancing, of all things, around in Busby Berkeley style pinwheel formations. With somewhere around forty people, the stage was quite filled and lively.
The choreography worked well. In particular I liked the way they showed just how very many elderly women Bialystock had to seduce to get funding. It goes from a stage filling mass of eighteen actors with walkers dancing around in all directions (quite a sight in itself) suddenly ending up as a row of swooning senior citizens, with Bialystock grabbing the cheques just ahead of the domino wave of falling women and Zimmer frames tipping over onto their backs.
Yes, definitely lots to see and quite funny (got a standing ovation at the
end). Worth seeing again, particularly since there's so much material that
you'd likely notice things you'd missed the first time.
A murder mystery swirling around a murder mystery writer who has mysteriously started writing romances. Was it sparked by a real romance? That's the key question to keep in mind to have a chance of guessing what's what. The play starts with a gunshot (just testing apparently) and you just know that the gun will have to be fired again later in the play. But by who? This one was twistier than usual; with the audience's intermission votes for the prime suspect turning out wrong. I was a little puzzled since the gun hadn't been fired yet, so to me it was a question of who has done what? Keep an eye out for the sliding panel next to the fireplace, which has a slight discrepancy (edge isn't the same as the others) that you won't notice until it's too late to notice what it was like before the gun was fired. But that's trivia, the real meat was in who knows what and who's lying, and I can't tell you without spoiling the plot.
The actors carried out their roles well enough (no problems hearing what they were saying, even with odd accents, though I wouldn't know if that Welsh was correct). Though I question whether real elderly women have Jane Morris's jerkily feeble arm motions and indecisive choice of direction to move in when stressed. Oh well, though a bit annoying for me and overused by too many actors (or am I just seeing her in many plays?), those actions do clearly convey that the character is upset and confused.
We were kept involved and guessing until the end, when it was revealed to
be Bernard Slade's fault. That made it an entertaining night.
A good police procedural, with Israeli and Palestinian police detectives
figuring out who may have murdered an archaeologist. They follow a flimsy
trail where the archaeologist is revealing inconvenient truths about biblical
history and thus provides a motive to their only suspect, an Israeli Settler
who's car broke down nearby and near in time to the murder. On that hunch,
they bring him in for questioning, with the Palestinian being the good cop
(which he and the audience laugh at). The fun is mostly in the witty word
play between the cops and during the interrogation. They do find a
suspicious gap in his story, and unexplained parking tickets. He or his car
is up to something in Hebron, and not just at the time of the murder. It
does end unhappily, though with no need for a blood gutter around the stage
for Kris Joseph's Settler, unlike The Pillowman.
The setting was quite modern but the words were the original Shakespearean English in this production (I was able to keep up, but just barely). I mostly remember the set, and a few bits of acting.
The whole area (walls and floor) is veneered in metal sheets, with lines
where some of the metal can swing out of the way to reveal a statue, or have
a table slide out onto the floor. There are two doors (one elevator style,
one swinging) and a central passageway. There's an illuminated photo of the
queen on one wall and a clock without hands on the other. And hand sanitiser
dispensers beside the doors, which do get used. The space is turned into a
Via Rail station by the additon of a destination signboard (with Greek cities
named) and audio ambience. Or a modern bar - with a very very long metal and
glass bar (with illuminated shelves of bottles and glasses in the corners and
stools under the central part) rolled out through the elevator door
dangerously quickly. Or a bedroom (beds, sofas, tables slide out from the
hidden metal doors). Or a night club with a Star Wars theme implied by a
signboard outside, and a troop of passing people in Darth Vader costumes.
There's a projected image from a hand held TV camera shone on a wall to
highlight views of an argument between some of the characters. Supposedly
some of this is inspired by Montreal. The actors conveyed the confusion and
frustration of the errors quite well. The two Dromios get beaten by their
masters when they get things wrong (like not knowing where the sack of gold
is), but everyone shows their frustration in their voice and gestures.
Surprisingly, there's also some singing. At the end there's a nice contrast
of modern costumes (most of the characters are dressed like YUPies trying to
be stylish) against sturdy century old fashion when the sinful vampish Lady
Gaga-ish "woman" meets the ancient abbess of the church.
A different musical, with a sad ending. Live band with a piano, sax, precussion and a couple of string instruments. They were good and a little bit too loud, making the words in the first half of the play partly inaudible. However, they fixed that for the second half (that was just the second night for the show; hopefully it will be better balanced in future performances).
The story is about twin brothers, separated shortly after birth to live in a rich family and a poor family, with superstition keeping the poor mother quiet about the deal she made with the childless rich woman. The children's lives unfold on their respective tracks as you would expect, with them becoming friends on their own, even though both parents want to keep them separate. The dramatic downturn comes in late adolescence when the poor guy loses his box making job, plunging him into a depression, spurning help from the rich guy and alienating his girlfriend. Anyway, he makes stupid decisions and his life gets worse from there, until the fatal ending.
But what about his upbringing makes him so stupid? Is it just being worn down and made hopeless? But he was on top of the world shortly before losing his job. Perhaps it was the responsibity of becoming a father combined with losing a job. He also thinks he grew up while the rich guy (at university) didn't. Perhaps he grew up too much. Or maybe his lack of education and lack of practice with thinking meant he couldn't see the future clearly enough to plan ahead and avoid stupid decisions.
It was nice to see Margo MacDonald in a serious role, but Emmanuelle
Zeesman was better as the poor mother. She lived that character by wearing
with age and stress (nice wrinkles and tired looking hair and somehow Peggy
Laverty found a faded flower pattern dress - they don't sell that fabric and
I suspect it would be hard to find used) but yet happy at times, enduring her
fate and eventually prospering a bit on her own. The music had an overall
dreamy slow sadness to it, though there were several happier lively bits, I
particularly remember the kids playing song and the new neighbours song.
A delightful Italian castle revives the spirits of several early 1920's
British people suffering from a dreary post-war life.
A surprisingly good slice of poor life play about First Nation's people
abused by the residential school system (kids removed from their families and
worse). The old generation father is wasting his time in a bar, wasting his
money on fruitless gambling (3 Beavers machine on stage) and his mooching
friend, and is ashamed to be seen by his daughter from the city when she
comes looking for a reunion. Though the live guitar (played on an assortment
of instruments, including something that could be a double neck slide guitar)
bar music by Jason Burnstick was very good. Turns out that a lot if this was
due to the suicide by the mother/wife after her daughter was taken away; the
husband and friends didn't recover for decades, though there is promise at
the end when the daughter finally gets to meet her dad. Why was it a good
play? This time there was more character development; we could see how they
changed and got mangled, and how they might find a way out.
Slice of poor life, this time in Jamaica and with more blood than usual.
The actress/playwright did quite a good job of portraying the many different
people tied to one girl's growing up troubles. One difference from other
slice of life plays is that the people are a bit more aware of their history,
including African pre-slavery royalty and British colonial horrors.
I had a really enjoyable night at Show Tunes Showdown last night. To sum it up, Zucchini Grotto Theatre Company was technically perfect singing as a group (amazing harmony, even when doing the rapid fire multi-threaded Rhythm of Life), and individually. Orpheus Musical Theatre Society mixed in more theatrics and was quite entertaining. Sheridan Music Theatre Performance Program won overall with some excellent student performances.
Sheridan had help from ringer Constant Bernard (quite a large fellow with a great voice, semi-finalist on Canadian Idol) who was good at coming up with theatrical actions to win audience and judge acclaim, and points. One amazing feat was doing the splits (lowering himself to the ground slowly by spreading legs wide) to make one song finale much more memorable. In another he serenaded the judges shamelessly after finally deciding to dive into the transvestite role from the Rocky Horror Show (the reward for naming the song on scant trivia clues is the chance to perform it).
The audience got to perform too. The woman behind us named the Barbra Streisand song People but didn't want to sing it (she's a pianist), so she got local theatre fan and well known volunteer Wendy B. to do the singing. However, the main accompanist Jane Perry heard that remark and got our seat neighbour to play the piano while Wendy B. sang. They gave it a good shot and got several points, which they donated to Orpheus.
Oddly, there were several songs I recognised, The Internet is for Porn and Schadenfreude from Avenue Q, and ones from Wicked and Spamalot (I'm All Alone with real coconuts). It's even more fun when you know what the songs should sound like.
Bob LeDrew was great as the MC again, with lots of horrible puns (now for
the next thong from The Full Monty...). The judges were excellent
again, particularly Pierre Brault (taking the serious critic role) and
Kathleen Petty improvising their interaction on the spot.
The backdrops may be painted in a bold cartoon style but the pace of the story and acting pull you into a more detailed world. The world of 1840 small town life, where Huck Finn just doesn't go to school and Tom Sawyer avoids it as much as possible to play Robin Hood in the forest with Huck and his avid followers, the town kids. Subject of course to aunt Polly's nagging and punishments, like the famous fence whitewashing scene. That's where the show starts taking off, when you see a dozen kids trying to paint the fence in a big musical number, conned into thinking that it's not work by Tom. Yes, child actors and hordes of them, from young and small on upwards, all doing quite a good job with the singing, dancing (synchronised cartwheels and other quite ambitious moves), and painting.
After convincing the audience that the dead cat in a sack was a prop, the story moves on to the graveyard where Tom and Huck witness a murder and frame-up by the villain Injun Joe (evilly played by John Collins). The town drunk is put on trial and Tom's decision to speak out saves his life at the cost of making Injun Joe a mortal enemy of Tom. Unlike watered down modern stories, this one has naked death and real danger, which does indeed make the drama much more interesting.
Along the way to the climax, there's a stupidly wonderful scene where widow Douglas teaches Huck to read words by spelling them out phonetically. It's such a simple scene, but well acted and given time to develop, so at the end of much trouble (and some really humourously horrible soundings of words) the audience cheers when Huck figures out his first word.
The climax happens when a cave tour (before the town picnic which Tom was avoiding because Injun Joe was recently seen by Huck) goes a bit wrong. Tom and Becky are lost and get further lost in the caves. There's a good use of editing (scene in the cave alternating with a lighting change and actors moving into place to show the above ground scene) to show both Tom and Becky getting desperate while the parents and town folk are frantically searching or praying that two angels get returned. The scary part is that Injun Joe is in the caves too, searching for treasure that the town drunk had found a map to. That's quite enough tension! And then Tom is down to their last candle.
They pray for light, and there's a strange interlude in the darkness when a dark but sparkly figure reflecting blue lighting dances on stage (listed as the Spirit of Light in the credits). Not all that often that you see an impression of a dark cave rendered as dance, which works fairly well.
After the big fight, where Huck comes to the rescue as Injun Joe is trying to kill Tom, they find the gold. There's a minor moral here portraying that gold isn't worth a life, when they leave behind most of the gold to pull out a wounded Huckleberry Finn.
The ending has a nicely childish pay-off, with the survivors attending
their own funeral and crying at their eulogies.
This is a very well done character play and that's what makes it worth seeing once, more if you enjoyed the story telling. We just see Peggy Randall in the first act: the daily housekeeper going about her chores and talking to herself and the audience. This flurry of stories is prompted by the divorce of her employer and upcoming sale of the house. We find out about Peggy's underage marriage and breakup, her subsequent lover who gives her four children (one dead, one insane, one who ran away to success in the oil patch, etc) and didn't give her much else other than trouble. She moves from the east coast to Toronto, runs a boarding house, loses the boarding house because the lover runs a bordello in her station wagon, gets a job making electrical usage meters for Sangamo (nice historically accurate mention) for 13 decent years, then is on disability for work related wear, and becomes a maid who's strangely good at repairing electrical equipment. She's planning to retire with Mr. Trouble in the near future, but is keeping that secret from everyone.
Nicola Cavendish did a good job of knocking off her chores (folding laundry, fixing a fan, kitchen duties) while emulating her character's failing memory and concentrated story telling. In the post-play talkback she said that it was only the night before that she had finally mastered the text of the play - and there is a tremendous amount. But she pulled it off and with a good Springfield accent too according to one audience member (NC had listened to interviews with the person the character was based on).
In act two Edith Dexter tells her stories too, prompted by the divorce and drinking a bit too much. She's really annoyed at her confidante best friend neighbour who had an affair with Edith's husband. After lots of details (don't mention Portofino), we find out that it was because Mr. Dexter wanted to do something different before dying rather than staying in the same life and winding it down. Again a good acting job by Fiona Reid, with lots of stress to get all those words right. I wonder how she developed the facial expression for someone eating olives after their husband had sucked the stuffing out of them, described as being similar to the way baby birds are fed. Incidentally, when she's off stage in the first act, she is reading a book (and listening to Mozart), but not the book in the play.
One funny previous production moment was when Peggy was fixing the fan and
unrolling some electrical tape, but couldn't find the end. She gave up and
violated stage tradition by going off stage and getting Mrs. D. to fix it for
her. Off stage Mrs. D. frantically tore off a strip with her teeth and Peggy
got a round of applause when she came back with the unrolled tape.
A study of daughter dynamics. When the mother dies, three daughters come to visit along with their emotional baggage. Jane Morris was excellently annoying as the vegetarian Teresa who overflows with bitter blame when drunk. One underlying theme was the vagueness of memories, explicitly echoed as a memory loss patient one of the daughters was treating in the back-story. But here it is memories of childhood events that are misattributed and warped to suit the daughter's personalities. Apparently this does happen in large families. Some memories are hidden, until they come out at events like this, revealing dark secrets and the truer personalities of the children and their parents. I'd say that the flirty daughter unable to form a long lasting relationship was too much of a stereotype, except that I know people like that.
Audience response was mixed, with a few leaving at intermission. I found
the character interactions (fighting mostly at the start) and unveiling of
their problems interesting and dramatic, but then perhaps others find it too
familiar. Or too modern and impolite. Or maybe they have suffered through
too many deaths of relatives and friends to find the whole concept
The Company of Fools pulls it off again, keeping up the entertainment
value of last year's A Midwinter's Dream Tale. This version of
Hamlet was quite entertaining, even though it's mostly about trying to
perform Hamlet rather than the play itself (they summarise the play at the
beginning in just a minute or two to refresh your memory). All sorts of
things go wrong (there's a curse or a ghost or both that's summoned by saying
"Hamlet") and amusing side trips happen while they're trying to perform
Hamlet with five clowns, led by the straight man Pommes Frites (with an
excellent funny fake French accent like Peter Sellers doing inspector
Clouseau, "Focus"). One example is when the intermission happens too early
leaving a spot where Pomme Frites entertains the audience with chewing gum
(from under a seat). One little girl in the audience broke up when Pomme
repeatedly sent hapless Steve up the stairs to the Booth, repeatedly saying
"booth" like a parent telling a child to go to their room. 'Restes did do a
serious run at the To Be or Not To Be speech, admist the noisy smoke
machines. But the rest of the time, 'Restes was sufficiently dense to annoy
Pomme. Shidgit was voiceless, with rival Vivi saying her lines ventriloquist
style, though things got a bit less cooperative in the battling Ophelias
scene (Shidgit performing while chained to a solid old fashioned bathtub on a
dolly, chasing after Vivi who was trying to steal her lines). The actors
quick witted improvisational skills wove audience interruptions into their
dialog seamlessly, so you likely won't see the same play twice (and it's
worth seeing twice) unless someone coughs annoyingly at the same time or the
audience goes "awwww" when 'Restes is sent to the booth.
This is one of the best OLT shows I've seen. It's a Norm Foster play so
the writing is well paced, intricately interleaved and funny, but the acting
really brough it to life tonight. In particular Jennifer Scrivens as the
escort service lady dragooned into pretending to be a fiancée was
marvellously emotional. Good casting choice, picking someone larger than
usual who besides being insecure about their appeal to others can also
dominate the other family members - when she shouts "sit down," they do. The
writing had a running gag of talk about her child leading to tears as she
described not being divorced, not separated or even married, just smelling
the bus diesel fumes as the boyfriend left town. Funny enough, but she made
it real, which made it even funnier. Orrin Kerr was also notable as the
irritated and disappointed father, perhaps because he reminds me of a former
coworker who looks similar and also owned a bookstore, though the second half
of the play diverged from his reality into fictional family dysfunction.
Nicole Tishler looked the part of the thin news anchorwoman, helped by hair
styling and costuming (Peggy Laverty). Worth seeing again.
More enjoyable than expected, due to good performances and a non-traditional set. Good use of 8 pianos on wheels to set up various locations (at first I thought the backs of them against the wall were a left over Robert Lapage airport corridor set). As other people have noted, it was hard to hear Mother Courage singing the opening number due to the loud drummer also on stage, but her words were discernable for the rest of the performance. The story shows the drain of war on people even though some of them claim to like war for the moneymaking and other exceptional contexts (like killing peasants and stealing their cattle is good during war, not so good during peace). Really good wooden wagon - looks quite realistic and functional except for the brakes. Some nice stagings: wagon behind the stage backdrop casting a shadow as it moves along, tower of wood to represent the barn the daughter climbs for her final heroic moment that looks a lot like the backs of the pianos but is several stories tall, stately funeral procession of black pianos with music lights on for the field marshal's death. And of course, Kris Joseph was there as a dashing soldier trying to get a free drink and other minor characters so we had to go and see the show.
Entertaining. Odd that several Noises Off actors worked in this amateur
actors simulation. Being amateurs, the script got changed (Scrooge has nice
skin) and there were oddities like a few musical numbers that weren't quite
on plot. I recognised the overall plot and some text fragments from seeing
the original Christmas Carol a few days earlier, which helped in
understanding what they were making a mess of. But that's not essential;
they get into enough trouble of their own.
Dark (painted black) and dramatic set, with lighting and movement of props
to suggest various places other than Scrooge's bedroom. The classic story is
told yet again, and quite competently. Nice touch having the same era
Christmas hymns sung by the cast, reminding us that it's a very Christian
ceremony about Jesus. Enjoyed seeing Kris Joseph as Scrooge's nephew Fred,
didn't know he could play the xylophone. The timing was pleasantly quick,
starting early with no intermission so we got home in time for bed.
A musical with a series of mostly humourous vignettes about romance and
relationships. Was weirdly consistent with More Work than a Puppy seen just
a few days ago, though more for general audiences.
Actresses touched by the recently deceased Shannon's life told the woman's
side of life around babies and raising children. Started with the theme from
2001 (Also sprach Zarathustra) with the 10 actresses screaming and groaning
in pain or pleasure under the direction of a conductor. Each one then told a
story in their own way. For example, one had dozens of toys and children's
clothes thrown at her by the other actresses and picked them up and put them
in a basket all the while telling her story about children. Humourous in
general tone, with a lot of complaints about the difficulty of giving birth
including some gruesome details.
IW was simple baby peekaboo acting that works on adults. CSLS was simply
wonderful again, though this time I caught a few more things (didn't realise
he had packaged up his love into the balloon).
Good story about Doctor Janusz Korczak (a pen name) who was a psychiatrist in Poland who took care of children, after seeing that hospital treatments didn't help the underlying causes of poverty and lack of parents. He built an orphanage, a model of the time (1911-1942, children treated with more respect than usual, even having their own court system), and stayed with the children even to the Nazi death camps. One of his orphans helped out the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, which is why this got written and produced.
The actual production used live children to good effect. It was also nice
to see Paul Rainville in a serious part, with his underlying friendliness
fitting the role well.
Well performed, amazing rotating set, though the material wasn't great in
song or story aspects. It's the story of four sisters growing up and going
their separate ways, despite promises to not grow up. The central writer
struggles and finally finds some success, more when she writes about her
sisters growing up. Reminds me of Sita Sings the Blues where
the writer also bounced back from her relationship and life problems by
writing about it.
Nice murder mystery, with a down and out young writer writing a real
murder which may or may not actually be carried out by his patron. Steve
Martin was good at looking dumb, confused and awkward. Luscious set too.
Quite a fun way to spend an afternoon. This is a musical theatre show
about an audio recording of an old musical from 1928 being played by an aged
art lover, in his apartment, describing it to us like we were his friends.
Of course, we see the real actors doing the show while he listens to his
record. But if he repeats a section, skips something or pauses, the real
actors do too. This is carried to a fun extreme when he accidentally puts on
a record for a different show and the whole performance turns into a Chinese
fantasy. His enthusiastic art appreciation and commentary on the show makes
a stock piece of fluff (the show he's listening to) so much more interesting.
Besides pointing out odd trivia, his reactions are enjoyable to behold. Now
just how many actors can tap dance, do comedy, sing and also roller skate
around a whole scene while blindfolded? Yes, the cast was quite talented.
Loved the scenery chewing Adolpho, who's name is hard to forget. Good
writing and acting.
Nicely done early Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The plot is about girls
from Britain going to New York and onwards, chasing the wrong kind of guys,
repeatedly, while ignoring the good ones because they're too short. Bronwyn
Steinberg was directing (she's working on her masters degree at Ottawa U) and
brought us a nice live sound (no microphones) with sound levels nicely
balanced between the live music (electronic piano, real guitar and violin)
and the three singers. She was also behind us in the audience, looking on in
an inscrutable possibly motherly fashion. The set was made up of baggage, I
think both representing the symbolic emotional kind and because of all the
travelling the girls did. They also had a sturdy set of stairs on wheels
which the actresses moved around to gave them a way to change the set (giving
it the feeling of being different places) without having to do much work or
take much time in the small basement space of the studio. Lighting was
similarly effective and unobtrusive. Nice singing and acting, though I have
different favourites than my girlfriend so I can't definitively say who was
Well done Agatha Christie murder mystery. Nice to see elderly but lively
Johni Keyworth again, who played the surreal fairy in Enter
Screaming in the Fringe festival. Good to see a pro who can also step
down to do Fringe. We also noticed Barry Daley as the nervous doctor, him of
Cogsworth fame from Beauty and the Beast. Of course, all the
characters are characters. The plot was as convoluted as you can expect,
with the audience given a chance to guess who did it during the intermission.
I got it wrong, but then there are so many possible suspects. The trick is
for someone to fake their death, but then they'd have to collude with some of
the other people who might examine the body too closely, which didn't seem
likely, but ended up being the case. There could have been other endings,
and I wonder if there are plays that randomly change the ending every
Students from The National Theatre School of Canada working with
professional actors from the National Arts Centre (Peter Hinton being a
motive force and MC) showed off the results of their month of study, this
time examining Greek theatre. They read a couple of dozen plays to prepare,
talked with archaeologists, historians and linguists (as well as the usual
acting experts to help them perform the plays), and otherwise looked around
to see behind the fuzzy veil of time. We got a good taste of the historical
range (startup of city states, mature democracy, culture failing in wasted
wars), a guess at what the actual spoken Greek sounds like, and a play on the
the rarity of finding plays while hunting through garbage dumps for papyrus
fragments before the local farmers use them as fertilizer (less than 10%
remain even from playwrights who wrote a hundred plays). The Greek
theatrical contests had 3 tragedies and 1 satyr (horsy kind) show;
we got excerpts from both of those (cast of 28 was able to do justice to the
chorus parts, and they had quite solid masks for some). Besides the rarity,
the translation and cultural background are ambiguous, so we were shown a few
interpretations to see how wildly off they could become from the original
Greek words. An oddly interesting evening.
There are only a few souls coming back from Earth, making for dismal
returns by the Universal Holding Company (chaired by God, famous saints as
board members). Go-fer boy Gabriel is sent down to Earth in Human form to
see whether Earth should be sold off to Satan or kept. Things look pretty
bad, even more so because Satan is his tour guide. Written and directed by
Gord Carruth, with quite a large cast and lots of musical numbers. I
recognised Andrew Galligan (clown in Pirate Jenny's Circus at the Fringe)
playing the lead role, and James McDougall (Horton in the Seussical) doing a
tough guy and then a drugged out guy in a marvellous stoner scene. Decent
Satan too, though he laughs a lot.
Quite the comedy of a farce within a farce. Even the programme has a funny smaller programme inside it, for the farce within. There's lots of physical comedy (Steve Martin uses his dance skills to do the splits over a sardine spill, falls down stairs with shoelaces tied and then frantically hops around backstage trying to get revenge), which I can't really describe well, other than it was done with good fast pacing and there was lots of it.
There is no central character, instead we have a troop of actors (the real actors were quite good at being bad) trying to play a British farce. The first act is their rushed dress rehearsal, where we learn their personalities and quirks which will soon lead to active hostilities.
Their backstage conflicts erupt in the second act, representing what it's like a month into their tour. We see this from backstage because the whole set (quite solidly built of 2x4s and plywood with sections on wheels joined by locking bolts) has been taken apart and rotated 180 degrees (worth staying for in the theatre during one of the two intermissions). It erupts into violence (director has too many lovers, others are jealous of each other) while the play is going on, making for a strange split between the public show and the silent frenzy of hurt feelings, near axe murders, drinking, tied shoelaces and other dirty tricks. Good thing the set is so sturdy, with all that door slamming and running up and down stairs.
Life seems to imitate art, as we noticed Patrick MacFadden (former Carleton U professor (Ottawa Sun reference), who played the old drunk actor doing the burglar and having trouble hearing and staying conscious) being helped out of the theatre by the real crew. Hope he's okay.
Their show disintegrated in the third act, where the dirty tricks go too
far, leading to misplaced props (those sardines are slippery, and yucky when
put down someone's blouse), injured and missing actors (they had two other
actors taking Patrick's role, not sure if that was part of the script or part
of reality, though they both wouldn't leave and funnily echoed their lines in
a duet). Overall, it's a nice bit of writing, setting up the audience with
knowledge of how the play should be done and then seeing how badly it can go
wrong. Worth seeing a second time to catch all the stuff you missed the
first time, and to see how much is improvised.
Quite a few funny moments, but this play also is a take on violence and the warping it does to people it touches. The police think they have their man when they interrogate the writer of a vast body of mostly disturbing stories, some of which have recently come true. He doesn't have a clue about the child murders, then he finds out that it may be true and his brother is involved, then it may be something the police are totally fabricating (are there really any bodies?) just to leash in writers in an oppressive dictatorship, then... It's quite the dark river flow of threatening violence, fear of death, torture, lightened by flashbacks to an abused childhood (dark deeds done in caricature silly fashion on the third set behind a stroboscopically transparent curtain), ending in death. Quite engaging, worth seeing again in a year.
Kris Joseph played the lead role, with a very good story telling voice, both in the way he tells it and in being nicely loud enough for everyone to hear. He also looks like a guy about to be executed, running through emotional states as he's squeezed by the good and bad cop pair (nicely done) and his brother into eventually wanting to be executed. Alison Almeida had a nice bit part as the child scrabbling in a box buried underground (good set and lighting effect for that one).
By the way, ingenious use of duct tape strung from a few framing boards to
make walls and floor to ceiling prison bar shadows (placed between the stage and
audience). Also look for the blood gutter/lip around the central stage and
the not-equal sign instead of a swastika on the giant flag.
One woman and one set covers the life of a girl growing up as a white in
apartheid South Africa. The story shows the culture from the white side but
with echos of the troubles the black side had to face (nanny has a baby
without authorisation, and the need for "papers" to avoid being beaten).
Both sides feared the police and the racist laws, and certain neighbourhoods
of the other side. There aren't really clear cut sides since there were white
people who hated the blacks on principle and other whites who helped them
(racing around to find a missing black child, braving black towns at night).
That tense background is mixed with the childish delights of growing up,
being friends with the black servants and inadvertently absorbing parts of
Funny (sitcom writer unleashed) and memorable for the framework of time
passing from 1951 to 1975, with video summaries of the passing years between
acts (music, news, TV, movies). The time is reflected in the personalities
of the pair of adulterous adults, though it got a tad extreme with the 1960's
rebellious hippy mother vs buttoned down father (son died in Vietnam, made
him angry and fascist).
Marriage and money and power all jumbled about. The Fools weren't sure of
a city grant for funding so they cut down to four actors, with the other
parts played by bundles of sticks with a bucket on top for a head. This
worked out quite well, with the secondary actors moved like puppets or a
quick swap of a hat and apron with a live actor for more important moments.
Good crowd too on a pleasant night (mosquitos came late) in the park.
A silly but fun musical put on by summer theatre camp children with a few
pros scattered around to leaven the production. The guy playing Horton
(James MdDougall) was notably good at being a worried elephant.
A good production, entertaining enough and on the comprehensible side of
Shakespeare productions, though not quite as much fun as last year's As
You Like It, perhaps because this was one of the first performances.
Kris Joseph (whose career we are following) was excellent as a villain, and
also played the nice guy he had sentenced to death for fornication. Liked
the tee-shirt. The other actors held up their roles well too, particularly
Craig Walker as the duke. The live musicians made it more memorable. With
this rainy summer, they were ready with an alternate tent or a church, but
things turned out well and it only rained in the amphitheatre for just a
minute at the very end.
This year I and my girlfriend have a list of plays to see, almost but not quite all of them, carefully scheduled to see as many as possible without running out of options near the end of the week and a half long festival. My favourites (ones which I wouldn't be ashamed to recommend to friends, in order of most fun first) currently are:
Here are the ones we've actually seen, this list may reach the low forties in number with good luck:
City guy and country girl move to a small town, city guy can't stand it
and leaves, country girl unhappy but thinks she's faithful. Locals gossip.
Some come courting, some for other reasons, but they end up changing country
girl's mind, or rather revealing the real situation to her. It's a tale
about marriage, breakups, discovering other people's deeper intentions, and
moving on. Good use of scrabble to reveal lustful true thoughts. Besides
the lead actress Venetia Lawless, Dale MacEachern who played the country
bumpkin putting on an act, impressed me. His manerisms remind me of Dan Redican from The
Frantics, doing an honest ordinary guy annoyed at other's complexities.
Lots of funny bits, but this time it struck me that the film could be serious about what could happen. The Human element could fail (maybe not a base commander but if the USA's President wanted to start his own war he might be able to do it). Things like the bombs cased with material that would be converted to radioactive poison dust in the atmosphere seem plausible, and scary. Though a bit of research makes them less scary. There are cheaper ways to make a doomsday machine (one suggestion I ran across was a lake of Freon-12 ready to evapourate and destroy the ozone layer for decades, thus wiping out most plant life and everything that depends on it).
Still, it was strangely comforting to be watching it from a nuclear bomb
proof bunker. Well, not if the bomb hits anywhere nearby. And we'd have
popcorn for a while.
Tears, action and characters. Worth seeing again.
An odd tale of a relationship between the actress (then a theatre student) and Pierre Elliot Trudeau, after he had been prime minister of Canada. Too odd to be fiction! It started with her being the student representative on a board, which entitled her to go to a gala where Pierre Trudeau showed up. He noticed the young actress in oversized high heeled shoes stuffed with toilet paper and asked her for a dance. That was as romantic as it got. Later on PET met her for dinner and lunch in Montreal at various times, talking about all sorts of things. We never know the motive, but can guess from "two lonely souls" that his circle of acquaintances was getting too stratified. Of course, when they went to a bar, Trudeau would be recognised and swarmed by law school students. The play is about these small moments, ending with PET's funeral.
There was also a talkback after the play, where we got to hear from the
actress/writer on how she developed the play, which started as a story
telling session which people liked too much. We found out that she didn't
see Trudeau's children much (they were small at the time). The other
students knew about the relationship, which for later years of students
turned into a myth. Anyway, it's interesting to see, particularly since it's
her personal Trudeau story (mine involves being on the train before the
funeral train, crowds in the train station (plus a large group of Sommeliers
who had their own car or two) and seeing people and TV crews getting ready
beside the track all the way to Montreal). She's now touring from Ontario to
the east coast for the summer season.
Quite a moving story about a modern day French child who meets a Canadian
veteran of the Juno Beach campaign. Julia Mackey plays all the roles,
switching by merely changing expression and body posture (she's got that old
man shuffle down pat). The girl asks Jake all sorts of questions, annoying
him but revealing his past as a soldier and her family's past as conquered
people. She also unconsciously guides Jake's reconciliation with the past,
suggesting he talk with his dead brother like he did with his wife. The
final exchange of gifts is tearfully touching, though a nightmare for
Fantastical use of puppets and costumes to bring a very odd person and his conquests to life. Don Juan was sent to hell after seducing, and I suppose having sex, with over a thousand women. He's been released for this night only to tell his story as a play, to give a moral warning to ordinary people several centuries after his death. That guides the medieval / renaissance style of dress, character (Spanish ladies) and set design.
He starts with his upbringing by a pack of dogs, with two of the actors wearing giant dog heads (one long and sleek necked, another a bulldog), acting quite like dogs, down to the leg movement and good barking.
Once he gets older, he falls in love with a woman but is rejected from society as he is considered a beast. He proves himself worthy of favour by losing a fight with a bull. The lead devil (the devils are assisting grudgingly) wearing his very furry pants rides a kid's tricycle with this huge bull's head built around the handlebars. Glowing eyes and puffs of steam from its nostrils only heighten the menacing tricycle driving, snorting and pawing of the devil. His love is just a face (papier mache) held up from behind by one devil's hand with a piece of white lacy fabric flowing from the face over to the devil's other arm, so you just see a face, fabric and a delicately moving arm. Yet it seems like a whole person.
Of course, he falls in love with someone more racy in a bar. This woman is strangely lifelike even though it is just two mannequin legs, a pair of breasts, two arms and a face, run by three devils and occasionally breaking into fragments and then reforming into a person.
Anyway, his life goes to hell from there and with some ingenious scene
changes using the 4m tall wooden cabinets on wheels (one scene is inside his
head), reaches the end where he pleads that love conquers all. The audience
doesn't really want to do an orgy on the spot.
This one is notable for its quite stylish costumes (cartoon caricatures of old clothes styles done in weird perspective - a lady's hat looking like a large asymetric kite rather than the original circular normally proportioned model, hoop dresses done as gigantic black hoops with ribbons but without fabric). Naturally, the predominant colour was black. The actors were similarly made up, with black shadows around their eyes and black headbands (conveniently holding a small microphone on their forehead).
Though the subject was dark (Edgar Poe's life as a series of abuses, hope
followed by failure, deaths), the actors were quite lively in movement, song
and speech. Speaking of which, there was quite a lot of material in the
script covering the details of Poe's life. Oddly, I got the feeling that all
of it was taking place in England, not mostly in the United States of
America. Overall, the production went very smoothly and the audience
definitely enjoyed the experience of being in a stylishly warped world.
Quite a fun bit of entertainment. Lots of humour, double entendres
included. Brave actors revealing their not so perfectly shaped bodies, in
contrast to the professionals with their well defined muscles. It's also a
good character showcase, with Sean Tooley doing a very good fat friend and
Debbie Murphy playing a lively old but experienced piano player and motive
force. I was also surprised by Stefan Keyes who fooled me into thinking he
was an old man, and then sung noticably well. Spoiler - watch out for bright
lights hiding the Full Monty at the end. And in an unusual minor note, the
program was very crisply printed (sharp text and clear photos, bright
auditorium lights helped too), with character relationships briefly described,
which made it easy to look up actor/character associations after the play.
A pretty good movie. As fun as watching an old episode. Though part of
the fun is seeing what the characters are doing that's different than the
original series. Having that alternate time line sure does free up the
A strangely assertive and yet nervous woman comes back to inherit the
family home. Her sister had stayed there, taking care of their father, and
seemingly got fed up and killed him. The nurse is out for blackmail. We
expect the crazy home-staying sister to be the only survivor. We are
correct, but for slightly twistier reasons, revealed after a nicely
unexpected diversion to midnight ghost stories of abuse (wife beating vs
An energetic evening of competition between three amazing musical groups
of four singers. Zucchini Grotto won, but the score is almost irrelevant
since they were all great and the judges were generous. Of note, Sarah Lynn
Strange had the opportunity to shine blindingly twice in solo performances
(one taunting a boy to not touch her, another one started by her Zucchini
team naming a tune now popular in funerals which she then sung sadly well).
The 2nd place Sheridan team was really good, students or not (except for that
fabric prop - good concept using it for waves etc, but didn't work as well as
other staging tricks in other songs). I wonder what their careers will be
like. Suzart had quite a few great tunes too, and carried off the
non-singing part particularly well. Their staging for Triplets (baby
costumes and chairs) is an example of why their performances are so
entertaining. The MC (Bob Ledrew), the judges and the audience (some members
can sing amazingly well) added to the show too, making this an evening of
The performance we went to was being recorded by a two camera team, with stereo sound (seats reserved for "Mike"). The cameras picked up actors in upper half face masks with long noses. Comic masks and the odd music dribbles make this play seem silly but underneath is the solid foundation of life as a poor person. The large set made of foldout panels on hinges accompanied by a few plank boxes, benches and fragments of plaster lathe conveys the appearance of a cheap rooming house room quite well. In a flurry of prop choreography it also becomes the swanky landlord's condo, an alley, and a courtroom in the grand finale. Joe's apartment is at the source of the landlord's concerns. It's got crummy maintenance. Joe has to do dubious jobs for the landlord in exchange for rent. The landlord is attempting to evict people before redeveloping the property into a condominium. It's also a money laundering scheme for the true royalty, a distant secret mafia family who strike fear into everyone of power in the city. Only Joe doesn't realise what he's stepped into.
After being evicted and suffering a decline in abilities due to a hard
life on the street and shelters, Joe's willing to do anything. When he
accidentally gets the keys to the landlord's condo while picking up his mail
(the landlord steals the mail), he's willing to join his cousin's gang and
their implausible heist plans. The quick plan is to loot the landlord for
funds for big heist supplies. But the rent income will be more than the big
heist, so... To cover up the disappearance of the landlord (into a closet)
until the rent cheques come in, the group runs the rental business. The play
suggests that the tenants would be better off with honest property
management, which even Joe and his slightly smarter brother and petty
criminal friends can do. Besides actually fixing things (and discovering
that they weren't even though the books said so), they have innovations like
catching rats and betting on them in races. Joe's love interest is the other
kind of poor - a cleaning lady who's working hard and trying to get ahead,
making slow solid progress. He tries to keep her from finding out what's
really happening (though the elderly murder mystery writer clues in within a
few seconds of walking into the landlord's place). Things happen. In the
end, the courts and landlord trump the petty criminals, conveniently ignoring
their evidence as being from unreliable or insane people. But then they
trump the courts by using fear of the mafia. It's a bit cynical that the way
forward isn't through truth, but through fear and lies. At least they have a
moral dilema to worry about at the end, rather than being poor.
Historically it's the first notable and distinctly Canadian play, from 1969, about life as a North American native Indian in Canada. It's a sadly realistic view of a decline into poverty and petty crime by people who can't fit (hold down a job and be polite) into Western culture. The ones who stay on the reserve are frustrated and hopeless with centuries of not going anywhere. The ones in the city are worse off, yet many want to go there. The lead actress portrays Rita as mentally deficient, like a child, unable and uncaring to remember recent things while able to remember fragments of her childhood. Nice use of verbal flashbacks while talking to the judge to show that. Maybe she's not innocently childlike, since she does seem to like sex, or is too passive to avoid men with a passing interest in her body. She flops around the city, her simple impulsive theft and other lack of city proficiency more and more frequently making her collide with the law. On the male side, the lead actor is smart enough, but he's also blindly angry. Anger combined with getting drunk ruins his life, both from the Western fitting in point of view (loses his job, gets thrown out of beer gardens) and absolutely.
The cast of almost a dozen fills in the other characters of Rita's childhood (class+teacher, groups of friends, relatives), appearing out of the dark when Rita starts a story. Quite often they will sing (with a lead vocalist who's a bit too quiet in contrast to the excellent voice projection by the actors) and play music on drums, guitar, and other instruments.
The play makes me think of various things related to the topic. Likely that's one reason for its creation. How does Western society treat stupid or insane people in contrast to Indian and other cultures? What could be done to improve the Indian/Western lack of fit? Should we improve it? How did it get that way? How does this look when compared with a twelve-step program, where Indian Circles follow a strangely similar model to a 12-step discussion group? That last one is there because I'm currently reading Living the Twelve Steps: Change Ourselves and Change the World by James Duncan, which notices that similarity and comfortable cultural compatibility.
Will the future for the Indians and Westerners get better? What would the
ideal future look like? If the melting pot doesn't work, should they be
separated more completely (reserves with more independence and less
interaction with the outside) or destroyed (not nice) or kept on with benign
neglect in hopes that a miracle happens? That makes it sound like Western
culture is doing the deciding. Perhaps the Indians should figure out their
own future. Guess that's the current answer: benign neglect in hopes that
they sort out their own way in the world. Sort of like the twelve-step
A good fighting contrast between the three male generations of a fishing family. The supposedly smart and educated grandson (anti-globalisation demonstrator, believes in compromise and getting along with people, but can't apply that to his family) is being roped into a new family fishing company because the grandfather requires eldest son inheritance. The middle generation uncle has things under control with dubious Mexican investors for his drug smuggling operation. The grandfather lives in the past to some extent, missing his dead wife and not being aware of the smuggling. There are lots of heated arguments about the future of the family empire (grandfather wants lineage to continue unchanging, uncle makes deals to survive in the present, grandson wants to leave it all behind and be a city boy). There's a riot at the fish plant again (grandson says sharing their quota would have stopped that, the others laugh and say that the crab would have been wiped out by unrestrained greed). Violence ensues under cover of the riot and the middle uncle wins, for a while at least.
Good performances from the trio. The grandson acts annoyingly dopey as he
should be, and has mannerisms that remind me of some PEI people I know. The
grandfather is convincingly old (nice long frozen pause as he tries to
remember). The uncle is lethal and short fused. Nice lighting of the
deceased wife's photo in the dark.
Survived a traffic blocking protest, enjoyed watching the Rideau Centre
Congress Hall being demolished by a ballet of excavator mounted power
jackhammers turning concrete into billowing dust, a man wielding a cutting
torch attacking the roof and a very tall crane lifting the roof fragments.
The play had a nice simple set with London logos surrounding a sketch of
hotel room (furniture, doors but no walls). This is a four part set of
playlets by Neil Simon taking place in the same hotel room:
The sets were amazing on this show, which is mostly by justly famous
Robert Lepage and his company. It started with a mature combination of video
technology and actors, with a Chinese ribbon style dancer deflecting clouds
of particles in the video surrounding and lighting her, while she moved
around the stage. Then there was a bit of caligraphy as the expat in China
showed us how to draw a line, with his drawings projected on large tiles on
the wall behind. It's not just a line, it's also the separation between sky
and earth, the number one, and if you add a vertical line and some roots, a
tree. The set itself transformed from airplane to airport to train station
to small loft apartment, using lots of mechanics and roll down doors,
lighting and video overlays. Good use of fluorescent lighting! Trains and
boats went by in the background (physical models) as the actors rode
retrograde bicycles (the bikes were on black stands that moved at their own
speed), giving the effect of one biker overtaking another while viewed from a
travelling camera. There was a story too, which got more and more
interesting as we found out about the characters' baby and relationship
problems. See it for the sets, and while doing that, experience a bit of
contemporary China while swimming in the story that weaves everything
Lets you feel what it's like to be in a studio audience at a radio show. Good singing from the Gladstone sisters. Well done George Burns and Gracie Allen style hosts riffing off each other. Most of the actors spoke with accents of the time. The first half is mostly a mystery show (my favourite part). After intermission it's a comedy, similar to Abbot and Costello. We were there on costume night so many of the audience members had on hats and clothes of the 1920s to 1940s, several were also dancing on the stage before the show and during intermission.
Here's a picture of the theatre programmes from mostly 2008 spread out on the floor. I just don't have time to scan them all in, describe the shows or do much more than take this group photo before throwing them out (need the space), so you'll just have to look and be amazed! You should be able to find most of them in the subsequent list of shows we've seen (culled from old calendars, web searches and piles of trip photos).
Before the start of this log, I and my theatre enthusiast girlfriend went to many more shows. Here's a list of most of them going back into the mists of time. Before then, I'd been to plenty of GCTC shows and a couple of Fringe Festivals, but definitely not as many as I've been to since meeting her!
|Date||Place and/or Company||Title|
|20090313||Carleton University / Sock 'n' Buskin Theatre Company||Evil Dead: The Musical|
|20090311||Ottawa Little Theatre||Wrong turn at Lungfish|
|20090306||Centrepointe / Orpheus Musical Theatre Society||Nunsense|
|20090304||Great Canadian Theatre Company||The Drawer Boy|
|20090228||Coliseum Ottawa||Slumdog Millionaire|
|20090221||The Gladstone||Midwinter's Dream Tale (comes with ice cream)|
|20090219||Centrepointe Theatre||Canadian Tenors|
|20090204||Ottawa Little Theatre||Over My Dead Body|
|20090124||National Gallery of Canada / A Company of Fools||The Impressario by Gian Lorenzo Bernini|
|20090114||Great Canadian Theatre Company||Tempting Providence|
|20081221||National Arts Centre 4th Stage / By the Book Productions||A Christmas Carol with John Huston|
|20081211||Great Canadian Theatre Company||Coma Unplugged|
|20081202||Ottawa Little Theatre||The Constant Wife|
|20081129||Dominion Chalmers Church / The National Theatre School of Canada||The Ark: The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht|
|20081128||Arts Court Theatre||Meta Schmeta: 8 Words that Ruined my Relationship, The Actor's Nightmare, Catastrophe, This is a Play|
|20081127||University of Ottawa Tabaret Hall / Theatre Department & Unicorn Theatre||Dido and Aeneas|
|20081121||Barrymore's Music Hall||The Legendary Cooper Brothers|
|20081115||National Arts Centre / Dash Arts||A Midsummer Night's Dream (Indian theme)|
|20081114||Centrepointe Theatre / Orpheus Musical Theatre Society||Fame|
|20081104||Ottawa Little Theatre||Perfect Wedding|
|20081102||Centrepointe Theatre / Goya Theatre Productions||Anne & Gilbert the Musical|
|20081029||Great Canadian Theatre Company||Zadie's Shoes|
|20081001||The Gladstone||How the Other Half Loves|
|20080926||Field near St. Laurent Shopping Centre / Cirque du Soleil||Corteo|
|20080923||Ottawa Little Theatre||On Golden Pond|
|20080916||Great Canadian Theatre Company / Crow's Theatre Production||I, Claudia|
|20080822||Shaw Festival's Royal George Theatre||After the Dance|
|20080808||The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts||Yves Saint Laurent|
|20080804||Saskatoon Fringe Festival||Teaching the Fringe|
|20080804||Saskatoon Fringe Festival||La Mexicaine de Perforation|
|20080804||Saskatoon Fringe Festival||Spiral Dive|
|20080804||Saskatoon Fringe Festival||Woody Sed|
|20080804||Saskatoon Fringe Festival||Nuts! Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward|
|20080804||Saskatoon Fringe Festival, also see their 2008 Show list||Killing Kevin Spacey|
|20080725||St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival||As You Like It|
|20080719||AMC Kanata 24||Iron Man|
|20080710||AMC Kanata 24||Hellboy II|
|20080618||Ottawa Fringe Festival||Over 40 plays in a week and a half, see the Weekend Report for a partial list.|
|20080617||Ottawa Little Theatre||The Ladies of the Camellias|
|20080610||Great Canadian Theatre Company||Plan B|
|20080607||Arts Court Theatre / Seven Thirty Productions||Iron|
|20080606||Centrepointe Theatre / Orpheus Musical Theatre Society||The Sound of Music|
|20080524||National Arts Centre Theatre||The Way of the World|
|20080520||Diefenbunker||12:08 East of Bucharest|
|20080513||Ottawa Little Theatre||My Old Lady|
|20080504||Centrepoint Theatre||Russell Peters|
|20080416||Great Canadian Theatre Company||5 O'Clock Bells|
|20080408||Ottawa Little Theatre||The Woman in Black|
|20080405||Bronson Centre||Showtune Showdown|
|20080307||Orpheus Musical Theatre Society||Thoroughly Modern Millie|
|20080304||Ottawa Little Theatre||The Miser|
|20080213||Great Canadian Theatre Company||The Optimists|
|20080129||Ottawa Little Theatre||Dancing at Lughnasa|
|20080118||National Arts Centre Theatre||MacBeth (Kris Joseph and Pierre Brault)|
|20071228||Ottawa Little Theatre / Zucchini Grotto||Life Up On The Wicked Stage|
|20071204||Ottawa Little Theatre||Lie, Cheat and Genuflect|
|20071202||Glebe Community Centre||A Christmas Carol (Dan Smyth)|
|20071128||Great Canadian Theatre Company||The Real McCoy|
|20071124||Las Vegas - Treasure Island / Cirque du Soleil||Mystere|
|20071121||Las Vegas - Rio||Penn and Teller|
|20071115||Orpheus Musical Theatre Society||A Christmas Carol|
|20071110||Great Canadian Theatre Company||The Good Father (Kris Joseph)|
|20071030||Ottawa Little Theatre||The O'Connor Girls|
|20071024||Great Canadian Theatre Company||The Man from the Capital|
|20071017||Centrepointe Theatre||Wingfield's Inferno|
|20070925||Ottawa Little Theatre||The Foursome|
|20070822||Ottawa Civic Centre||Weird Al Yankovic|
|20070629||Arts Court Theatre||Kaftka and Son|
|20070628||Ottawa Little Theatre||A Murder is Announced|
|20070614||Ottawa Fringe Festival||A bit over 30 plays!|
|20070610||University of Ottawa Academic Hall||Famous Puppet Death Scenes|
|20070601||Orpheus Musical Theatre Society||The Spirit of Orpheus|
|20070515||Ottawa Little Theatre||The Sunshine Boys|
|20070512||RA Centre||Ottawa Valley Quilt Guild show|
|20070505||Centrepoint Theatre / les 7 doigts de la main||Loft|
|20070502||Great Canadian Theatre Company||Helen's Necklace|
|20070410||Ottawa Little Theatre||Fallen Angels|
|20070401||Great Canadian Theatre Company||The Four Horsemen Project|
|20070331||Glebe Community Centre||Oliver! (Dan Smythe as Fagin)|
|20070327||Edinburgh - King's Theatre||The Play what I wrote|
|20070323||Edinburgh - King's Theatre||Titanic, the Musical|
|20070321||London - Garrick Theatre||Treats (Billie Piper)|
|20070320||London - Noel Coward Theatre||Avenue Q|
|20070320||London - Palace Theatre||Spamalot|
|20070319||London - Gielgud Theatre||Equus (Daniel Radcliffe)|
|20070316||London - Apollo Victoria Theatre||Wicked|
|20070315||London - Strand/Novello Theatre||The Tempest (Patrick Stewart)|
|20070306||Ottawa Little Theatre||The Drawer Boy|
|20070302||Orpheus Musical Theatre Society||Guys and Dolls|
|20070221||Centrepoint Theatre||Johnny Clegg|
|20070217||World Exchange Theatres||Pan's Labyrinth|
|20070210||National Arts Centre 4th Stage||Zucchini Grotto|
|20070207||Great Canadian Theatre Company||A Number|
|20070130||Ottawa Little Theatre||Communicating Doors|
|20070127||Bronson Centre||Showtunes Showdown|
|20061128||Great Canadian Theatre Company||Leo|
|20061123||Orpheus Musical Theatre Society||Disney's Beauty and the Beast|
|20061101||Ottawa Little Theatre||An Evening of One Act Plays|
|20061020||Centrepoint Theatre||The Frantics|
|20061018||Great Canadian Theatre Company||The Oxford Roof Climber's Rebellion|
|20060916||Shaw Festival's Festival Theatre||Arms and The Man|
|20060916||Shaw Festival's Royal George Theatre||The Heiress|
|20060916||Shaw Festival's Courthouse Theatre||Love Among the Russians|
|20060915||Shaw Festival's Courthouse Theatre||The Magic Fire|
|20060912||Great Canadian Theatre Company||The Fall|
|20060826||Cumberland Heritage Village Museum / Vintage Stock Theatre||A Case for Murder|
|20060811||Kingston City Park / Driftwood Theatre Group||Assorted Shakespeare|
|20060615||Ottawa Fringe Festival||Introduced my new girlfriend to the Festival, saw 23 plays.|
|20060530||Landsdown Park / Cirque du Soleil||Quidam|
|20060321||Ottawa Little Theatre||Melville Boys|
Copyright © 2019 by Alexander G. M. Smith.