Alex's Theatre Log

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.

Year 2019

  1. 20190502 19:30 Scary Poppins at The Gladstone Theatre.

    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.

Year 2014

  1. 20140404 19:30 Hedwig and the Angry Inch at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $0 (subscription bonus), $15 dinner at Kochu Sushi and Korean.

    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.

  2. 20140402 20:00 Dancing with Rage at the GCTC main theatre.
    $34 (6 show subscription).

    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 enjoyable.

  3. 20140306 19:30 Half Life at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $25 (single ticket price).

    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.

  4. 20140219 20:00 This is War at the GCTC main theatre.
    $34 (6 show subscription).

    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 that.

  5. 20140215 21:00 Morro and Jasp do Puberty at the GCTC Studio.
    $17 show. Barbara Popel has a review.

    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.

  6. 20140215 19:00 Ridergirl at the GCTC Studio.
    $17 show, $24 dinner at The Flying Banzini (excellent mini cheesecakes). Brian Carrol has a review.

    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.

  7. 20140215 15:00 The Tashme Project at the GCTC Studio.
    $17 show. Brian Carrol has a review.

    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).

  8. 20140215 13:00 Broken at the GCTC Studio.
    $17 show. Brian Carrol has a review.

    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.

  9. 20140201 14:00 Kim's Convenience at the National Arts Centre theatre.
    $59 show.

    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 strongly.

  10. 20140125 19:30 Detroit at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $24 (10 show subscription), $15 dinner at Asian Village Vietnamese Cuisine.

    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.

  11. 20140121 19:30 Rumors at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $18 (8 show subscription), $5 parking.

    Guests visiting a senator who's shot himself (suicide maybe) come up with inconsistent stories, piled upon stories as more guests arrive. Good writing.

Year 2013

  1. 20131231 20:30 Paul Hutcheson: New Year's Eve at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $13 show.

    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.

  2. 20131218 19:30 Ethan Claymore at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $24 (10 show subscription), $13 dinner at New Mee Fung Restaurant.

    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.

  3. 20131213 20:00 The Frantics at Shenkman Arts Centre.
    $34 show.

    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.

  4. 20131211 20:00 Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) at the GCTC main theatre.
    $34 (6 show subscription).

    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.

  5. 20131203 19:30 Christmas Belles at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $18 (8 show subscription), $5 parking, $7 dinner at Smoke's Poutinerie.

    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.

  6. 20131122 19:30 Legally Blonde at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $32 show, $18 dinner at Asian Village Vietnamese Cuisine.

    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 sexist professor.

  7. 20131101 19:30 The War of the Worlds at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $22 show.

    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.

  8. 20131030 20:00 You Fancy Yourself at the GCTC main theatre.
    $34 (6 show subscription), $37 dinner at Petit Bill.

    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.

  9. 20131022 19:30 Deadly Murder at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $18 (8 show subscription), $5 parking.

    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.

  10. 20131019 14:30 Salt-Water Moon at Springer Theatre of the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque Ontario.
    $38, dinner at Gananoque Inn.

    Just dialog with two actors.

  11. 20131018 19:30 Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hansom Cab Killer at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $24 (10 show subscription), $19 dinner at New Mee Fung Restaurant.

    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 friendly entertainment.

  12. 20130927 19:30 Private Lives at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $24 (10 show subscription), $18 dinner at New Mee Fung Restaurant.

    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.

  13. 20130925 20:00 Proud at the GCTC main theatre.
    $34 (6 show subscription).

    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!

  14. 20130917 19:30 Skin Flick at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $18 (8 show subscription), $5 parking.

    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 two.

  15. 20130709 20:00 Noises Off at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17, $5 parking.

    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).

  16. 20130620 to 20130630 The Ottawa Fringe Festival 2013 at various venus around Arts Court and University of Ottawa.
    $7.50 show (several 10 show passes), OCTranspo's new Presto card for bus travel ($2.60 per trip).

    My favourites (ones which I wouldn't be ashamed to recommend to friends, in order of most fun first) currently are:

    [Fringe 10 Show Pass]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 or 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).

    1. 20130621 21:30 Die, Zombie. Die! at Academic Hall.
      Pre-show the atmosphere of a 1940s movie cinema is set by the ushers, zombies with sales trays dispensing theatre treats. The programme is good, with a background of regular red blood drops behind a black with brown accents short haired dachshund, bisected by spiral binding, or maybe those are stitches...

      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).

    2. 20130621 20:00 Barely Even There at Academic Hall.
      This one is a musical with live music by a keyboard player in the corner (I think I saw him last year in the Mafia musical). It's the story (told to a divorce laywer) of a family breaking up as the husband gets ever more distracted by work, ignoring his wife and requests from his daughter to play. They started out with love in Québec city, even without knowing each other's languages. The woman moved to be with the Toronto guy. They had a daughter. Twelve years later mom is lonely, project manager dad's always interrupted by calls on his cell phone (something about restoring a crashed server with important documents for a proposal due the next day), and daughter is upset by lack of attention. There's a sweet mother-daughter song in French about blessing or kissing (my French isn't great) the butterfly, the cat, and other cute things. An insult from dad about the daughter nearly not being there (though it's the dad who's absent) prompts a solo song from the daughter, with surtitles as if writing a diary entry on a suspended white sheet. The voices are good, except for the daughter who seems a bit rough and nasal (the titles helped). The daughter keeps on replaying the wedding tape, where her parents sung a marriage vow, whenever they are arguing. Back at the divorce office, they split, but the daughter asks dad to come and play snakes and ladders.
    3. 20130621 18:30 The Day We Grew Wings at Academic Hall.
      A show with very high production values. Music before the show with stage lighting fading between different colours. There are two walls made from medium sized white cardboard boxes and a big tree-like structure (4x4 inch wooden beams with branches and twigs at the ends). The show starts with loud ticking sounds and a girl in a yoga position on the floor, then something that sounds like war noises, red lights, fog, the girl runs around, climbs the tree and jumps off, and the stage goes black. Suddenly the girl is back in the yoga pose for a very short scene (almost like film editing speed, just a few seconds). Then black and a new scene with a leprechan-like character (Zach Counsil) pops out, and an accomplice, both in antique style vests. The boxes are rearranged into an arch and there's a story for the girl. It's interrupted by very short cut scenes ("Miss Jenkins" called out to the yoga girl). The story is about her search for a job as a pirate. She finds a likely ship and signs on. The captain and mate show her to her place in the bilge, where she discovers rotting doors to rooms full of treasure, and a chained dragon. Now it makes more sense, the pacing and story density is for a children's show! She overcomes the dragon, and then it's an elephant being chased by laughing hyeenas. Or wings being cut off a child born with one fairy parent. Turns out we're actually watching children tell stories to each other at a picnic. Or maybe Miss Jenkins is thinking back about those times while at a doctor's office?

      Good children's stories with excellent production values. Mystifying to adults.

    4. 20130621 17:00 Imprisoned at Academic Hall.
      A man in prison for possessing child porn is questioned by a convincingly angry and violent British police officer. The man claims to just help young boys (trips to the zoo, painting activities) whose parents don't care for them. The cop thinks he killed a missing boy, and possibly others. They butt heads in several interrogation sessions, revealing the story, but in the end the man still is on orders from God (declaimed in Latin) and the cop doesn't get his confession, just a heartache of annoyance and disgust.
    5. 20130620 23:00 The Bike Trip at Arts Court Courtroom.
      Another enjoyable tale from the hoarse voice of Martin Dockery, along the lines of last year's Africa story Wanderlust. This time he's telling the story of the bicycle trip the discoverer of LSD took. Albert Hofmann had been researching ergot fungus and generated LSD from extracts of it. It didn't have much of an effect on animals, so it was ignored for a few years until he tried some himself, taking what he thought was a small dose. He felt sick, and wanted to go home early from work (Sandoz Laboratories), and since this was during World War 2, he took his bicycle. Odd visions ensued. Dockery retraced this trip during a visit to Switzerland.

      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.

    6. 20130620 22:00 Never Fall in Love with a Writer at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
      A young woman, her mother and grandmother and assorted lovers are played by Jennifer Capogreco. She does well enough, except for distinguishing between the characters (holding a pencil vs putting it in a pocket to mark writer and lover helped, but I was never sure if it was mother or grandmother talking). The grandmother tells her story about loving a writer to her granddaughter. The main point is whom do you write for? If you worry too much, you may not get anything done. Writing for yourself works well. Or you can write for your lover, in which case she's like a page and will remember you forever.
    7. 20130620 20:30 Cathedral City at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
      Kurt Fitzpatrick is telling scary stories to campers. They didn't fear the babysitter with the note about missing teeth, but they do fear a story about God not being real. Kurt has a good voice for telling stories and acts exaggeratedly enough (too much at times?) to signal which character is present. The most truthful sounding scary story is about he is recovering from a pinched nerve (sciatica) that's disabling his leg, and hallucinating stories of enchanted forests and previous Fringe productions while on drugs for pain. This gets mixed in with a time traveller (talks about how awkward it was meeting himself, not about visiting dinosaurs and history), someone in the Cathedral City museum with an artistic sand castle on their head, and other oddities, ending up with the survivors of apocalypse at the end of time basing civilization on Creepshow 2.
    8. 20130620 19:00 Red Bastard at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
      One insulting guy in red tights/underwear with beach balls to make a big butt. This is live theatre at it's most intense. The audience gets involved, starting with counting down from 10 when the actor promises to do something interesting every 10 seconds. Then it's competition between the audience halves to do bigger things than the other half (jumping around, waving arms, standing on chairs, shouting). Even if you're hiding in the corner, one of the actions is for everyone to simultaneously switch chairs. He is obnoxious too (this is modern Bouffon theatre that actually works), in one case asking an audience member to feel the energy flowing from one body part. Yes, it's the butt. As thanks for playing along, there's a prize hidden in his pocket, in his butt. The audience member has to reach in there. Or when he had a woman sing into his open mouth. She actually did it, and it sounded echoey. One timid woman was asked to stay standing on the stage until she learnt to not do what people told her to do. Seemingly sidetracked by interest in one audience member's story, he started collecting people's dreams (another guy was conscripted to write them on a blackboard). There was the guy who wanted to start his own farm. The woman who was looking for a companion. The policy analyst who hated her job because of too much bureaucracy (anything she accomplished needed approvals from many people). At the end we got the message, get out there and do something, quit that bad job, search for companions, do it.

      Great stuff, if you don't mind getting involved.

  17. 20130612 20:00 Like Wolves at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show.

    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.

  18. 20130604 20:00 Steel Magnolias at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking.

    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 everything.

  19. 20130531 19:30 Carousel at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $40 show.

    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.

  20. 20130529 20:00 In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $35 show.

    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!

  21. 20130522 19:30 White Rabbit Red Rabbit at Arts Court Library.
    $22 show.

    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 cup.

  22. 20130511 20:00 The Book of Mormon at the Princess of Wales Theatre.
    $130 show, $20 dinner at Lucy's (Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto).

    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).

  23. 20130430 20:00 Come Blow your Horn at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking, $20 Lone Star dinner.
  24. 20130426 20:00 The Taming of the Shrew by Bear & Co, at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show.
  25. 20130417 20:00 The Edward Curtis Project at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show, home dinner.

    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.

  26. 20130405 19:30 MERZ at the GCTC Studio.
    $25 show, home dinner.

    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.

  27. 20130329 20:00 False Assumptions at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $20 show.

    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 radium.

  28. 20130326 20:00 Deathtrap at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking, $10 shawarma (شاورما‎).

    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.

  29. 20130322 20:00 Absurd Person Singular at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show, $20 dinner at The Works.

    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 years.

  30. 20130316 19:30 The Drowsy Chaperone at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $40 show, home dinner, free parking.

    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.

  31. 20130226 19:30 God of Carnage at the GCTC main theatre.
    $18 show (half price deal), $18 dinner at Pho Van Van.

    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 low.

  32. 20130220 19:30 Chinese New Year Carnival at Centrepointe Theatre by Canada-China Cultural Development Association & Legend of China Production.
    $55 show.

    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?

  33. 20130219 20:00 Pride and Prejudice at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking, home dinner.

    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.

  34. 20130216 14:00 Metamorphoses at the National Arts Centre theatre.
    $30 show (distant balcony seats).

    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 oriented).

  35. 20130213 20:00 Billy Bishop Goes to War at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show, $25 dinner at Siam Bistro.

    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.

  36. 20130212 21:00 Little Iliad at the GCTC Studio.
    $14 show (Undercurrents festival 3x pass), $3 chocolate fudge snack at Bridgehead.

    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.

  37. 20130212 19:00 Little Orange Man at the GCTC Studio.
    $14 show (Undercurrents festival 3x pass), home dinner.

    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 Again.

  38. 20130125 20:00 BatBoy the Musical at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show, $18 dinner at New Mee Fung Restaurant.

    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.

  39. 20130123 20:00 Blue Box at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show, $60 dinner at gezellig.

    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.

  40. 20130115 20:00 All My Sons at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking, $28 dinner at Ken's Japanese Restaurant.

    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.

Year 2012

  1. 20121230 14:00 Vernus Says Surprise at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $20 show.

    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 later years.

  2. 20121223 15:00 Miracle on 34th Street at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show, $35 dinner at Golden Palace.

    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.

  3. 20121205 20:00 The Number 14 by Axis Theatre at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show, home dinner.

    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!

  4. 20121204 20:00 Mr. Pim Passes By at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking, $23 dinner at Dunn's.

    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.

  5. 20121128 20:00 November at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show, $22 great dinner (Hamburger Mary) at The Works.

    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.

  6. 20121123 19:30 Footloose at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $31 show (subscription), home dinner.

    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.

  7. 20121107 20:00 Fly Me to the Moon at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show, home dinner.

    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.

  8. 20121030 20:00 The Hollow at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking, $18 dinner at the newly opened Mu Goong Hwa Garden Korean-Japanese restaurant.

    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 future.

  9. 20121027 16:30 Incident at the Bunker: A Zombie Adventure! at The Diefenbunker.
    $20 show, home dinner.

    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.

  10. 20121025 19:30 Peking Opera Soirée at National Arts Centre Fourth Stage.
    $20 show, home 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 decide.

  11. 20121012 20:00 How It Works at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show, home dinner.

    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.

  12. 20120927 20:00 The Secret Mask at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show, home dinner.

    Good job showing mental damage from a stroke and how words are lost and then with luck found.

  13. 20120925 20:00 Hayfever at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking.

    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.

  14. 20120916 20:00 Stones in his Pockets at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show (subscription price), $18 dinner at the New Mee Fung Restaurant.

    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)).

  15. 20120813 20:00 RiderGirl at the Natalie Stern Studio Theatre.
    $10 show, $23 dinner at The Works.

    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.

  16. 20120614 to 20120624 The Ottawa Fringe Festival 2012 at various venus around Arts Court and University of Ottawa.
    $7.50 show (several 10 show passes), $5 parking near OLT or free at World Exchange on weekends.

    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.

    1. 20120624 19:30 WHAT HAPPENS NOW? at Arts Court Library.
    2. 20120624 18:00 BREAKING RANK! at Arts Court Library.
    3. 20120624 16:30 LITTLE LADY at Arts Court Library.
    4. 20120624 15:00 PICKIN N' SHTICK at Arts Court Library.
    5. 20120624 13:30 AERIAL ALLUSIONS at Arts Court Library.
    6. 20120624 12:00 FEAR FACTOR: CANINE EDITION at Arts Court Library.
    7. 20120623 21:30 Leftovers at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
    9. 20120623 18:30 100 FIRST KISSES at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
    10. 20120623 17:00 VERNUS SAYS SURPRISE at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
    11. 20120623 15:00 TRASHMAN'S DILEMMA at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
    12. 20120623 13:30 IT IS WHAT IT IS at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
    13. 20120622 23:15 Late Night Cabaret at The Courtroom.
    14. 20120622 21:30 FNL: FRINGE NIGHT LIVE at Café Alt.
    15. 20120622 19:30 THE SUICIDE at Café Alt.
    16. 20120622 17:30 I'M NOT CRYING IN THE BATHROOM: I'M CRYING IN THE SUPPLY CLOSET at Arts Court Library.
    17. 20120621 21:00 MERCUTIO AND OPHELIA at Royal Oak.
    18. 20120621 18:30 IN WAVES at Royal Oak.
    19. 20120620 21:30 HARD TIMES! at Academic Hall.
    20. 20120620 19:30 MABEL'S LAST PERFORMANCE at St. Paul's Church.
    21. 20120620 18:00 THE ROOMMATE at Avant Garde.
    22. 20120619 20:30 KUWAITI MOONSHINE at Mercury Lounge.
    23. 20120619 19:00 NE ME QUITTE PAS, PIAF AND BREL: THE IMPOSSIBLE CONCERT at Mercury Lounge.
    24. 20120619 17:30 EX CATHEDRA at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
    25. 20120618 21:30 Fishbowl at Academic Hall.
      One actor is geeky student girl (with social awkwardness), goth girl (rebelling against family), old man (dying slowly), divorced woman (gay husbands). Dark matter binds them all.
    26. 20120618 20:00 Wanderlust at Arts Court Theatre.
      Really good story telling about a trip through Africa. Horrible moments followed by joyful ones, with contemplation at opportunities lost.
    27. 20120618 18:30 Danti-Dan at Academic Hall.
      Sexually curious girl takes advantage of a dumb boy, as a group of teenagers grows up in poor Ireland.
    28. 20120618 17:00 Gametes and Gonads at Academic Hall.
      Sperm as pilots in the style of Star Wars and other battle movies, millions die.
    29. 20120617 21:00 Tis Pity She's a Whore at Bronfman.
      A big Jacobian (1600s) play in the open amphitheatre, classic.
    30. 20120617 19:00 A MacSummer Night's Dream at Academic Hall.
      Thumping good dancing following the Shakespearean play. Team tap and heavier dancing makes things noisy for the Léonard Beaulne audiences below.
    31. 20120617 17:00 Fallen: The Book of Samael at Academic Hall.
      Angels infighting and questioning their orders and then disobeying God, as a mafia gangster story.
    32. 20120617 15:30 Dead Wrong at Academic Hall.
      Eye witness memory is often wrong, leading to imprisoning innocents, who are stuck in jail even when the real criminal confesses with evidence.
    33. 20120617 14:00 More Power to your Knitting, Nell! at Arts Court Theatre.
      Really good singing, and knitting in the audience.
    34. 20120617 12:00 Donkey Derby at The Courtroom.
      Irish life, poverty, the Troubles, not eating your pets, and a donkey ride.
    35. 20120616 23:00 Crux at Arts Court Theatre.
      At Sussex and Rideau you can be interviewed absurdly.
    36. 20120616 21:30 Don't make me Zealous at Arts Court Theatre.
      Good argument about the irrationality of religion, and how true believers of Odin don't fit in with ordinary shallow worshipers.
    37. 20120616 20:00 The Open Couple at Studio 311.
      Turnabout is fair play.
    38. 20120616 18:30 2020 at Arts Court Theatre.
      What if the final flashing by of life can be captured and used to make money as part of assisted suicide.
    39. 20120616 16:30 R U Smarter Than An Irishman at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
      Lots of audience participation for me, magic tricks and score of audience vs him.
    40. 20120616 15:30 Hip-hop Shakespeare Live Music Videos at Arts Court Theatre.
      Good if you know Shakespeare and can link the play to the hip-hop fragmented version.
    41. 20120616 14:00 Space Mystery... from Outerspace! at Arts Court Theatre.
      My favourite. Amazingly good production values (costumes, props, acting, singing, live music) and a humourous story.
    42. 20120616 12:30 Alien Predator: The Musical at Arts Court Theatre.
      Lots of action, overly loud music obscuring the actors, good monster costume.
    43. 20120615 21:15 Little Orange Man at St. Pauls Church.
      Marvellous whimsical fantasy.
    44. 20120615 20:00 Lonely Bear at Arts Court Theatre.
      The play starts with Zach Counsil as a believably evil Nazi torturer (cutting off an ear with a knife), tormenting a doctor who has a method of making animals sentient. In a flashback, the doctor remembers an airplane crash during a book publicity tour, where he and a wounded passenger are stranded in the forest, with just an electric tea light for a fire. The wounded guy dies, and a cute small teddy bear appears, and after enduring a monologue from the doctor, the bear eats the dead passenger. The doctor takes Max the bear home with him, and makes him sentient and better mannered. Max grows bigger (now played by Zach in a bear costume) and seems unusually placid. However, keeping a bear in an apartment is difficult, even with help from the doctor's brother athlete/soldier, and finally the doctor lets the military officials take care of it. Secretly they teach the bear how to do torture. At the end, the doctor went to rescue the bear, and after being chased by soldiers in the woods repeats the old monologue as the bear dies. The doctor is discovered, and the initial torture ensues. For some reason (perhaps a lack of Kris Joseph as in The Pillowman) this show seemed less intense than it should be.
    45. 20120615 18:30 Heterollectual: Love, and Other Dumb Ideas at Arts Court Theatre.
      This is a good dance show, put on by the Pollux Dance company. It starts with the dancers coming in one by one and looking over the audience then moving around the stage, each with a different technique (floaty four legged walk for one, department of silly walks for the five others). An audio track of an inverview about love leads to lip-syncing the singing of a love song duet. One following set has them walking across the stage, some left, some right, and with evident forces of attraction between some pairs. There's one about falling down floppily, repeatedly (falling down in love). There's a manequin dance (a male and female store clothes dummy) romantically caress each other (disconnecting arms to do it - they aren't very well jointed), sharing popcorn while petting at a movie, and more. Then there's crazy love, with a girl clinging to a guy as he walks away ignoring her. Another couple shows bidirectional affection as they embrace vigourously, the lighter woman crawling up, down, over the guy's shoulders upside down and doing other feats of acrobatics all over him. Then there's part about broken relationships, and the alone girl's complaint, and failed reunions (with lots of falling down).
    46. 20120615 17:30 The Boy and the Girl and the Secrets they Shared at Arts Court Library.
      The set is a full size park bench where young adult brother and sister orphans meet after being separate for many years. The boy has gone to university (criminal psychology) while the girl has lived on the street. She's here to get the signature of the boy to access a life insurance payout. As they talk, a gripping and unsettling story (keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, paying attention) of a father in jail for murder is revealed. Don't read any further if you don't want to spoil the story. It was murder of kidnapped women who were forced to play as mother to the two children. They remember happy moments hiding while their father killed a failed mother, ones who became weak from the ankle chain. It gets worse as they reminisce, remembering how as little kids they searched for new mothers and lured them home. The boy also remembers watching the killing, and apparently now likes to do it himself. A gruesome but enthralling story.
    47. 20120614 22:00 This is Today at Academic Hall.
      A series of skits about life as a woman. The first is pregnancy, with one actress crawling on top of another, then covered with a blanket to become a baby bump. The mother sings about her status (now it's hurting) as she gives birth attended by medical stuff. The baby comes out, in a swimsuit and goggles, crying. Slapped and diapered, the skit ends. There's a sex scene, with the awkwardness of a small bed, and after climaxing, the man leaves with his cell phone. Another one is about driving (a chair) while happily singing along with the radio, crying at the sad parts, until another driver pulls up beside, hears the song and becomes sad. There's a mirror skit, about perceiving herself as ugly, hating summer, pool party stress, the mirror reacts emotionally, then gets killed. Two friends are eating and feeling fat, lowering their expections as bikini season approaches (maternity clothes fit well, diet turns into a bucket of KFC chicken, gym membership fails, ...). Several additional skits round out a mostly entertaining show.
    48. 20120614 20:30 Wolves > Boys at Studio Léonard Beaulne.
      Two boys meet in a graveyard for one story thread, the other is about two wolves. Both are stories about dominance between the alpha and beta roles. One is about choices in girlfriends, stealing girlfriends, partying and the other about the wolves needing to move to a place with more food. One of the boys also wants to fight a wolf, he'd win by punching it in the nose (an argument about that only working for sharks ensues). In the end, the beta helps the alpha by bringing him to his father's funeral, and helps the pack by killing the alpha and moving on. There were several good stage tricks, like using a flashlight in the dark to look around, and point out body parts in bad puns (something's afoot). We also had a nice chat with the two actors while waiting for an order at Smoke's Poutinerie.
    49. 20120614 18:00 Love Bug Louie in a Blessing from the Cursed at Studio 311.
      Starting by cutting his way out of a cardboard and newspaper box, a dwarf with the short legs, big belly and butt comes out to rip into the audience. One moment he seems friendly, the next he is insulting, then disgusting. His main target is the complacency of the middle class, though he was occasionally off by assuming excessive shallowness on the audience's part (like not knowing where the sewage goes). That's part of Bouffon theatre, where the ugly people are let out for one day a year to entertain the beautiful ones by mocking the leaders of society.

      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 unease generated.

  17. 20120612 20:00 Dangerous Liaisons at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking, $20 dinner at Lone Star.

    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.

  18. 20120601 19:30 Titanic the Musical at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $31 show (subscription), $30 dinner at Bai Du Pan Asian Grill.

    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 front.

  19. 20120530 20:00 Circle Mirror Transformation at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show, home dinner.

    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 ways.

  20. 20120517 20:00 Straight No Chaser at Centrepointe Theatre.
    $45 show, $17 dinner at Ho Ho's Restaurant.

    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 stage.

  21. 20120512 20:00 The Extremely Short Play Festival by New Theatre of Ottawa at the Arts Court Theatre.
    $31.50 show, $40 dinner at Lapointe Seafood Grill Cafe.

    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).

    1. Ambition by Adam Pierre. Inner city black kid makes something of his life via acting, a rap story.
    2. Just Dessert by Kelley Tish Baker. Cost cutting corporate inspector goes up against a chef who's making the perfect final but simple dinner for a prisoner about to be executed.
    3. Vicious by David O'Meara. A meeting of the dead Socrates and Sid Vicious, arguing about what's important, comparing hemlock and heroin.
    4. Happy by Tina Prud'homme. An unhappy junior henchman complains to his ineffective criminal team leader about kidnapping a rat for ransom.
    5. Late by Lawrence Aronovitch. Two old female friends chatter about bluetooth problems, food and old loves, revealing their personalities.
    6. The Bridge by Jessica Anderson. Two suicide bridge jumpers at 3am, one monologging for 45 minutes while the other waits unseen. Unseen finally is bored, interrupts her, talks about his failed suicide, and they become acquaintances, and don't jump tonight.
    7. Float (like a Butterfly... actual title in the script is much longer than that) by Kevin and James Smith. Assembly line worker had boxing as a hobby, gave his life meaning even though he's not fast enough to be at the professional level, describes the training and final big fight where he went out proudly.
    8. The Dog, The Cat, and The Fish by Andrea Connell. Bad online dating and mother pressure throw together incompatible teenagers. Pets as a gift are seen as affirmative for the cheerful one, a drag for the mom driven one.
    9. The Orrery by Perre Brault. Physicist talks to his wife the astronomer while she's awaiting cancer radiation treatment. Lots of personality revealed, and a few mathematical formulae too (luminance from the sun on a given calendar day).
    10. You Win by Geoff McBride. Man with a bad day (toilet sludge and other hazards in his way) persists in visiting a Tim Hortons coffee shop for some reason, even though it will put him behind schedule. Turns out that he found the hiding one there. The universe disappears and they start a new round of hide and seek, with the man making a new universe to hide in.
    11. When the World Blew Away by Geoff McBride. A soldier searching a ruined building finds a woman near death, says a few comforting words as she dies and her mind goes.

    Lots of fun, looking forward to seeing something similar in the future.

  22. 20120508 20:00 Beyond a Joke at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking, home dinner.

    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.

  23. 20120504 20:00 Death and the Maiden at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show (subscription price).

    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.

  24. 20120428 13:30 War Horse at The Princess of Wales theatre.
    $128 show, $22 lunch at Hey Lucy Cafe.

    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.

  25. 20120406 20:00 The Communication Cord at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show (subscription price).

    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.

  26. 20120331 19:30 Penny Plain at the National Arts Centre theatre.
    $43 show, home dinner.

    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!

  27. 20120329 20:00 East of Berlin at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show, home dinner.

    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.

  28. 20120327 20:00 Self Help at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking, $25 dinner at Saigon Restaurant (good won ton soup).

    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.

  29. 20120317 22:00 Third Time Lucky at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $23 show (half of a package deal).

    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.

  30. 20120317 20:00 Giant Invisible Robot at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $23 show (half of a package deal).

    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 by himself.

  31. 20120307 20:00 '33 (a Kabarett) at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show (subscription price).

    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 former theatre.

  32. 20120303 20:00 Translations at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $5 parking.

    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 America.

  33. 20120302 19:30 Rent at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $31 show (subscription).

    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 write more.

  34. 20120211 16:00 Live from the Belly of a Whale at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (Undercurrents festival 6x pass).

    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 best.

  35. 20120211 14:00 Fort Mac at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (Undercurrents festival 6x pass).

    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 outside.

  36. 20120210 21:00 Blue Box at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (Undercurrents festival 6x pass).

    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.

  37. 20120210 19:00 Falling Open at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (Undercurrents festival 6x pass), $15 dinner at Pho Van Van.

    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.

  38. 20120203 20:00 Cyrano de Bergerac at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show (subscription price), $14 dinner at the New Mee Fung Restaurant.

    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 him.

  39. 20120127 20:00 Lost in Yonkers at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $15 dinner at Spring Roll House, $5 parking.

    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.

  40. 20120125 20:00 Blood on the Moon at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show, home dinner.

    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.

  41. 20120118 19:30 2 Pianos 4 Hands at the National Arts Centre theatre.
    $43 show, $19 dinner at Moni Mahal.

    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.

Year 2011

  1. 20111231 20:00 Oliver! at the National Arts Centre theatre.
    $43 show, $19 dinner at Moni Mahal.

    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.

  2. 20111222 20:00 Shen Yun at the National Arts Centre opera hall.
    $80 show.

    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.

  3. 20111216 20:00 The Shadow: A Christmas Mysteries Radio Show at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show (subscription price), $33 dinner at Lindenhof.

    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.

  4. 20111207 20:00 A Midwinter's DREAM Tale by A Company of Fools at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre.
    $36 show, home dinner.

    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.

  5. 20111206 20:00 I Hate Hamlet at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $20 dinner at Lone Star, $5 parking.

    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.

  6. 20111118 20:00 I do not like thee, Dr. Fell at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show (subscription price).

    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 place.

  7. 20111111 19:30 White Christmas at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $31 show (subscription), $20 dinner at Swiss Chalet.

    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.

  8. 20111102 20:00 Whispering Pines at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre.
    $36 show.

    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 police).

  9. 20111025 20:00 Doctor Cook's Garden at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price).

    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.

  10. 20111014 20:00 Speed the Plow at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show (subscription price), $42 dinner at Trattoria Caffe Italia.

    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.

  11. 20110928 19:30 James Randi lecture presented by The Center for Inquiry at the National Archives and Library auditorium in Ottawa.

    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.

  12. 20110927 20:00 Inherit the Wind at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $17 show (subscription price), $4 snack at Second Cup, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  13. 20110920 20:00 Amelia: The Girl who wants to Fly at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre, produced by Festival Players of Prince Edward County.
    $36 show.

    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 write more.

  14. 20110909 23:00 Spotlight On: John P. Kelly at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $10 show.

    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.

  15. 20110909 20:00 The 39 Steps at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $31 show, $18 dinner at Spring Roll House.

    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.

  16. 20110720 20:00 Spider's Web at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $25 show, $25 dinner at Sweet Art, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  17. 20110706 19:00 Antony & Cleopatra by A Company of Fools at the Andy Grover park in Stittsville.
    $15 show, $10 Burger King dinner.

    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.

  18. [Fringe 10 Show Passes]20110616 to 20110626 The Ottawa Fringe Festival 2011 at various venus around Arts Court and University of Ottawa.
    $7.50 show (several 10 show passes), $5 parking near OLT or free at World Exchange on weekends.

    [Fringe Button]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:

    [Fringe Schedule Last Entry]

    Here are the ones we've actually seen, out of the whole 53.

    1. 20110626 21:30 Playing Dead at Café Alt.
      A zombie horror story. It starts with a tough woman with the machete chopping her way through a jungle, then fighting off a monster puppet, hacking off its head in a spray of blood (red ribbons). There's a remote cabin in the jungle with a young couple making out, they're on vacation for a few weeks. There's also a scared inept guy running away with a gun, who's worried about his bottled drinks getting dirty when he drops them. There's a TV with flashbacks to a research lab where nanotechnology to cure cancer is getting out of hand, keeping the body alive even though the brain's been mangled by the same technology. The various people meet up at the cabin. The vacationing couple make mistakes, turn into zombies and are killed by the survivors (spectacular knife through the head for one). The inept guy gets tougher and goes off with the survivor woman to find a way out of the zombie infestation.
    2. 20110626 20:00 Curriculum vitae at Arts Court Theatre.
      British comic Jimmy Hogg starts the show in a bathrobe, looking for coffee. He uses a mixture of mime (mismatched invisible socks, disgusting herpes test mini umbrella garbage handed to audience member) and a voice with strong cadence. He's out of work, and needs to get a good job. A BA in general studies and a CV is his hope to slither up to employers, but someone else will be ahead of him who's better at skills, lying, or personality. He organises part of the show around elements in the CV, starting with Name. The topics also range to other jobs he's held, from childhood (swimming lessons where he just is inert for a chocolate milk shake), office clerk, city council floor mopper (fired but unemployment pays more than employment did), construction worker, theatre caterer floating job that was really good but turned sour, and many others. At the end, we have an idea of what life is like in Britain for the less skilled person.
    3. 20110626 18:00 Canuk Cabaret at Arts Court Theatre.
      A cabaret show of many acts, introduced with a Canadian flag. There's lip-sync dancing, pseudo-sex, whip, stomach trouble blowing from both ends at a Catholic elementary school on Good Friday (a good friend does the laundry in that situation), guest Fringer (Dave Dawson of Black Sheep Theatre I think) singing Tomorrow, There's Always Tomorrow from Orphan Annie the Musical, a paean to driving the prairies, a vaudeville act with an almost nude woman dancing to opera music with giant fans of feathers and somehow always hiding the interesting bits of her body with the feathers, Katie Hood guest from The Animal Show does a monologue about dating a convict (the parole board is just like a parent approving the relationship), and it ends with a fantastic light show in the dark where the afterglow from lights swung on long strings makes pretty shapes in the dark.
    4. 20110626 16:30 Playing for Advantage at Arts Court Library.
      Romantic life ingeniously described as a tennis game. Including a tennis score board that announced the state of the relationship, starting with "Seeding" and "Rally for Serve" for the initial meeting and dating. They also had a tennis court laid out by the actors on the stage with masking tape. After many volleys and returns, the relationship goes from good to bad, when things like New Zealand vs Australia rivalry fussiness goes from a harmoniously glossed over element to an undisguised problem breaking the relationship. At the end, the game's over.
    5. 20110626 13:00 Padre X at Arts Court Library.
      A reenactment of John Weir Foote telling the story of his path through World War II. In uniform and with few props (a pair of flags, a pair of boots on the floor, and an easel with the Dieppe battle plan) he crams in an amazing amount of detail in this biography. You'd think from the title that it wouldn't be interesting, but once he gets started (as the unassuming Chaplain talking to an admiring crowd while waiting at a train station), it's quite enthralling. Even the stories about mud. We come out understanding why he went to war, and what he and his men went through, including capture by the Germans (he would be of more use with his men in POW camp than back in England). At the end, the actor (Marc Moir) told us about his visit to the War Museum where he was able to look at some of Captain Foote's artifacts, including his bible. He even found notes inside it that helped him refine some of the dates in the script.
    6. 20110625 23:00 When Harry Met Harry at Academic Hall.
      Quite the fun performance as Harry the obsessively concerned with proper procedure long term employee is forced to go on a team building seminar. Really good acting, and audience participation (as if we're in such a seminar).
    7. 20110625 20:00 Question Period the Musical at Alumni Auditorium.
      Everything you thought would be in the show is here. How to appeal to stupid voters (target the grade 3 mentality), question period, back room negotiations to get something for poverty in to the budget in exchange for not making a minority government fall, free food isn't bribery, and rap for question period, even in French. Biggest audience I've ever seen, filling the Alumni Auditorium with 200 enthusiastic fans giving it a standing ovation. Ran a bit long so we missed our next show.
    8. 20110625 18:30 Melting in Madras at Academic Hall.
      One of the better stories of the day - pure story telling by a guy with a guitar about his trip to India to study yoga. He's quite good at capturing the scenery of the street and temple, and even the food, then life in a hospital after he eats some bad food (grapes he suspects, but my friend says from experience that it could have been the watermelons).
    9. 20110625 17:00 Requiem for August at Academic Hall.
      A very stylish show, with sheets draped over stairs and pedestals, a candle and actors in fine dress (almost like mannequins before the show starts). They talk poetry about summer to each other, to the background sound of seagulls and waves at a seaside beach. While it's very stylish, the poetry fragments don't connect into a story, instead just evoking feelings of summer vanishing. The second half is (Oh Nest) Honest Insanity where we hear the same script three times, once in the dark, once in a night club and once as told to a girlfriend (who leaves). It's about a woman who's stalked and then kills the stalker with a marble bookend swung in her purse.
    10. 20110625 15:30 Sounds from the Turtle at Academic Hall.
      A band with two guys and a girl falls apart when the girl is preparing to leave for theatre school far away. One of the guys does all the work, the other plays the keyboard. The stress of having to do a show possibly without the singer brings out their claims of love for her, but she doesn't stay.
    11. 20110625 13:30 OYTPS Showcase - Sweet Nothin' at Academic Hall.
      The Orleans Young Players Theatre School students put on a performance of Sweet Nothin', the story about young singers wanting to be discovered and the older diva trying to kill their careers by duplicity.
    12. [Notebook Page for Complex Numbers with Set Sketch]20110625 12:00 Complex Numbers at Academic Hall.
      The trouble with dating other men while being married. It demands honesty on all sides for it to work. A narrator behind an occasionally transparent curtain would read from a book about non-monogamous relationships to point out things that weren't working.
    13. 20110624 23:00 Peter n' Chris Save the World at Café Alt.
      Zany adventures of friends, going to the library for finding out about composting, one lured away by the seduction of truth bombs from an activist lecturer, side trips into Chris' head where the neurons are fighting inner demons, grand battle with worker insects at the underground secret composting site. Very good physical acting, dancing with umbrellas, slow motion fights, truth bombs.
    14. 20110624 21:30 Something with Virgins and Chainsaws at I.T. Hall (Tabaret Hall classroom 311).
      Improvised horror story in an underwater research station where people are killed off one by one in the shoe store (don't ask).
    15. 20110624 20:00 The Search for a Reason for a Murder at I.T. Hall (Tabaret Hall classroom 311).
      Seemingly crazy mayor of Murder Town upsets a young adult writer who's a police officer.
    16. 20110624 18:30 Callaghan at I.T. Hall (Tabaret Hall classroom 311).
      Improvisation - FBI rogue agent hunting for his friend who's been kidnapped and hidden in a Tokyo subway tanning station.
    17. 20110623 20:00 Last Gig of Lenny Breau at Royal Oak Basement.
      This is mostly about guitar playing. It starts out as a recreation of a Jazz gig by Lenny, complete with house band noisily pounding away upstairs just like Lenny used to have to face. The music was pleasantly mellow and not too loud. Colin Godbout imitated his style (I don't know how accurately), able to make music by just slapping the guitar with one hand, plucking strings with either, playing the bass track on the same guitar as as the rest of the tracks (had to re-tune a string to do that) and generally being flexible about making sounds. He also told us a bit about Lenny's life, with a few props like the impressionist painting reproduction Lenny carried in his guitar case, and a 6 string guitar (Lenny preferred 7 strings). He ended with an extended Five O'Clock Bells about sunrise and morning bells, using it as a background for an ambling chat, some about technique (polychords and trios he was playing), some about the bells representing his domineering father.

      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.

    18. 20110623 17:30 Roller Derby Saved my Soul at Leonard Beaulne.
      Amy, a woman turning thirty finds her life trivial (watching TV, loving vampire stories, frittering away time at a tech support job), and is envious of her successful younger sister June.

      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.

    19. 20110622 20:00 Five Lies at Royal Oak Basement.
      A well written story unfurled in a teensy stage in the hot basement of the Royal Oak. Mostly it's about Mark and his case worker (Universal Servant - formerly known as an angel but that was just an approximation for early Humans) Phyllis, who intervenes when he tries to jump off a roof.

      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 the show.

    20. 20110622 18:30 eX's & Oh's at SAW.
      It starts with a male airline steward telling the audience to put away their cell phones and get ready for the show. There was lots of laughter when he repeated it in French. The story is about the relationship between Joe (the steward) and Wendy (a nice girl zoologist who seem to fit together). Wendy's roommate Cassandra is always looking for the right guy but not finding someone (3D: date, dick, dump), and envies the way Joe and Wendy are in love, more than just lust (which they are awkward at).

      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).

    21. 20110621 21:30 My Mother's Daughter at Arts Court Theatre.
      A character study of four women, slightly showing how their mother influenced their personality. There's the party girl, the beauty and drug queen, the thinking worrying dieting one, and the poet creative one. We see how they handle boyfriends, love, parents who are absent or die when they are a child.
    22. 20110621 20:00 The Interview at Ottawa Little Theatre Studio.
      A powerfully spoken police interview of an old man about a murder at the old age home. The bad cop gets frustrated when his questions are answered too generally ("Why are you here?" turns into a philosophical discourse). The good cop perseveres and extracts a story of childhood hate for an older neighbouring boy, who happened to be murdered in the room shared with the old guy. The old guy deflects questions or just doesn't know the answer when the question is too direct. A study in forceful characters, lots of shouting, and finally the old man is worn down into dithering distress. The police don't get their answers, but do discover a final inconsistency, maybe the guy wasn't from that old age home. Simple but striking set design using a clean gray and light gray background (just one diagonal boundary on the whole wall), and the same diagonal half gray on the chairs.
    23. 20110621 18:30 Pick Your Path at Academic Hall.
      Like a choose your path adventure book, this show periodically stops to ask the audience for a decision on what to do next, using loudness of response to the multiple choices to pick what happens next. Ours started out with the lazy last chance for mankind heroine having to stop the alien invasion. The first choice was to wake her gently or with a splash of water, the audience predictably choose water. There's a training session with a drill sergeant, outfitting with weapons that are adequate (lots of laser pistols, hover boots) but unfortunately not charged up, and a meeting with the alien general on their space station. A giant marshmallow eating contest (the audience choose brain over brawn) is easily won by the heroine, with the substitute devil from the audience (Jason Morneau enthusiastically volunteering) having to suffer marshmallows while she secretly tossed hers aside. In the end, the audience went for the mixed ending, not the happy or sad one.
    24. 20110620 21:00 All My Children at Leonard Beaulne.
      One man (Matt Smith) with a long and good story about pretending to be the father to the children of his former girlfriends. As he tells of his travels and hunting down and then meeting the kids (usually for lunch, often with the mother knowing), we imagine a portrait of each one. He doesn't do super distinctive voices or behaviour but his story telling ability fleshes out people and places very well - Seattle, the Hurricane restaurant, the waitress and food there, jump starting the car of a virtual son. It does have a potentially happy ending too, at the canal tomorrow at noon.
    25. 20110620 19:30 Fruitcake - Ten Commandments from the Psyche Ward at Arts Court Library.
      I recommended this one to my friends right after I saw it. Why? Because Rob Gee has so many good stories and makes poetry fun. One story starts out with the brilliant patients who figure out that since they're insane, they will have a good defence if they rob a bank. So in occupational therapy they paint a couple of water pistols black and ...

      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.

    26. 20110620 18:00 Am I Blue at Arts Court Library.
      A woman who's somewhat flakey and needful of attention tries all sorts of things to better herself. But she just isn't capable of writing a book on retracing the path of her distant ancestor Francis Drake, or doesn't get answers from sex therapy, or fails at starting a "People Cakes" cupcake business (no sugar in dough, wants clients to experience the inner cupcake decorator). But she does like partying, but even there she isn't good at understanding other people. Elizabeth Blue does get across the personality of her character, but it's a bit depressing that she never learns or even gets lucky.
    27. 20110619 21:30 Double Yellow Line at Leonard Beaulne.
      A two thread story comparing driving with progress in a career. Sometimes you go over the line to go faster, but then sometimes you crash and get hurt. Same thing with the promotion ladder in a legal office.
    28. 20110619 20:00 Preshrunk at Leonard Beaulne.
      A murder mystery about people in a psychological therapy group. Firstly we find out their quirks, revealed by interaction with the others and the occasional aside monolog to the audience. Then there's the hunt for the murderer, in Agatha Christie style.
    29. 20110619 18:30 Einstein's Bicycle at Leonard Beaulne.
      A scrapbook of things from the 1960s and later (with a historical sound track), such as the moon landing or Deep Blue defeating Kasparov in chess (with live chess pieces in the background while the main characters talk about the news of the decade).
    30. 20110619 17:00 Spotlight On... at Leonard Beaulne.
      Improvised show by Crush Improv based on stories told by guest Emily Pearlman (of Countries Shaped Like Stars fame). One is her night of postering with a friend and finding an unromantic hotel in Vanier to sleep in (played up as sticky door knobs and blood on the carpet and something in the sink and a water logged ceiling, just to start). Another is hitchhiking at the dead sea with some beach boys, who turn into orthodox Jews when they get close to town.
    31. 20110619 15:30 Fucking Stephen Harper at Leonard Beaulne.
      Gay journalist Rob Salerno tries to get an interview with Stephen Harper in the 2008 election and is brushed off or avoided every time. Finally he tries to ambush him and gets to ask a few questions while being tackled by the RCMP. Done as a slide show with lots of citations and photos to support his point, and a few John Baird references.
    32. 20110619 14:00 One Man Show of Doom at Leonard Beaulne.
      Our actor (Jason Morneau) happily living the beach lifestyle is yanked into the auditorium and forced to entertain the audience, or die, in 45 minutes. We get him to define Safari for us, shows of his dancing, and talk about how candy is ruining the world. Garfield his cat makes an appearance and wants his balls.
    33. 20110618 23:00 The Walk at Arts Court Theatre.
      The story of women and girls enslaved for sex, told as flashbacks and as the construction of a play about the topic (with tension between the sponsoring nun, the playwright and the director). A large cast in masks replays many of the sad situations, of women held prisoner by uncaring cruel men (and women) for sex with up to a few dozen people a day. Some try to escape but are caught and beaten. Others suicide. There's the story of Celeste, one from Nigeria who manages to escape to Ottawa with her child, and is still fearful (Nigerian JuJu black magic holds them fearfully captive).
    34. 20110618 21:00 Glitch at Arts Court Theatre.
      Another excellent script by David Hersh, cutting and pasting the same words into different sequences, with the actors performing them in very different ways. One time it's lovers, then it's a big argument of angryness, then it's lesbians, all with the same words. The protagonist wanders into the bar holding this repeated mess and gradually realises that it's repeating, learning to dodge the punch when he's accused of adulterating someone's wife (or whatever the variation is). Quite fascinating.
    35. 20110618 19:30 Every Story Ever Told at Arts Court Theatre.
      Ryan Gladstone tells us summaries of many stories, War and Peace taking the longest (rapid fire listing of names of characters), Rocky series, City Lights by Chaplin also make frequent appearances. It works well since the audience already knows the stories and likes to guess what they are from the summary. Then we make up a story from the basic elements: Theme (perserverence), Quest mode + Film Noire, Hero with a weakness (orphan, peanut allergy), Villain, Call to Adventure (dropped map in schoolyard forest) and so on until we have the story of Edward the 9 year old boy vs Mr. Peanut the teacher. Lots of fun, quite entertaining due to Ryan's energetic and quick witted performance.
    36. 20110618 18:00 Subnormality at Arts Court Theatre.
      It's about many things, maybe about expectations being low. The set is a bar and the alley outside, with the people there. There's the worst dating service, which has horrible profiles, but low expectations make a lucky match seem better (woman beater actually gives jobs makeing boxing gloves to poor immigrant women). An old loner gets a young single girl at the bar to figure out her life, so she can say No. Truth is stranger than fiction, comparing a Craig's list entry for diabetic hampster owners to the telephone system capturing awkward silences in those little boxes on the phone lines. The sexy rich woman shares a cigarette with someone on break in the alley, making connections that otherwise wouldn't happen if you stuck with only your friends, they leave, the one on break goes back to begging. Nicely performed sets of small interleaved stories.
    37. 20110618 16:00 Wet Dream Catcher at Arts Court Theatre.
      A very interactive play about dream cleaning. It's so surreal that it's like being in a dream, with sentences full of nonsense words that are still enough to give us a story, mixed in with dirty haiku. The big eyeball is the tool for reading minds and cleaning dreams (apparently I have one about Jack Layton's mustache). After a dream is cleaned, comes an orgasm (a rubbery squeezable abstract little toy that's got lots of soft spines and two googley eyes) tossed into the audience. The story is about the dream catcher agent who runs around the world cleaning up countries, until he gets to Russia where beautiful women who are hand models surprise him on a flight home, which leads to a party and an airplane crash, where the endangered species in the cargo are eaten. Very surreal and silly, but fun. The audience danced at the end to the words of WW2 Secrets read very seductively by Kris Joseph (who was in the audience and volunteered).
    38. 20110618 14:30 Best of Fest at Arts Court Theatre.
      This was a performance of the winner of the Youth Infringement Festival, titled Trapped in a Vox. A patient in a sleep clinic hears voices in his head, that are keeping him awake. He tries to keep them secret from the doctor, to avoid being thought crazy. The voices, embodied by two nurses, keep on trying to get the patient to kill himself. Are they ghosts? Maybe demons. The patient gets into an argument with the voices and convinces them that god doesn't exist so the devil doesn't exist, making the voices ask him to shut up. Then they change their story - it was a test, they were pretending to be demons. He's the messiah and should kill himself. Now they are aliens, investigating what the fish is thinking. They forecast the doctor's words and cell phone call, so they're time travellers now. Then cats. Eventually the doctor gets the truth out about the patient drunkenly causing the death of his wife, so it's post-traumatic stress disorder. Very well written (by Michael Kosowan) and rapid fire performed rational arguments.
    39. 20110617 23:00 RaRa!: and the boifrend that br3ked her heart up at SAW.
      Quite the performance. Matthews James Donovan in drag plays a rock star woman doing a show after a heart attack (and operation) brought on by her sensible psychologist boyfriend defecting to a woman in the better apartment on the top floor. He's very good at singing, playing the keyboard and acting, pulling together a character out of quite campy elements. A little too campy; he's not so good at writing stories. But the songs are good, like "The Misery of More" sung by RaRa pretending to be her boyfriend criticising about RaRa not being happy with the 18th floor apartment when there are 20 floors in the building. RaRa spontaneously sings songs (many original) so well and casually that they're part of the conversation she's holding with herself and the audience to mull over the breakup and the story leading to it. Being over the top, she loves her fans too, and has "self worth by audience response". All sorts of drama happens during the show, including a couple of deaths (one where she asks the audience has to urge her on a bit - an ethical problem for the audience) and another that's reversed in Peter Pan style. Unfortunately the writing is so over the top and campy that some people will absolutely hate the play and the character, but if you can ignore that, then there's plenty of acting, singing and music to enjoy.
    40. 20110617 21:30 The Suckerpunch at SAW.
      The story is based on a good SF idea, the device that lets you rewind time (or is it memory) for five seconds so you can try again, sort of like the Omega-13 in Galaxy Quest. This play concentrates more on the personal side of things with a test subject, who's a loser in life, using it to pick up girls by rewinding time when he blunders in conversation, sort of like Groundhog Day. Brent Hirose plays all the roles, fairly well though not quite distinctly enough for me to confuse Seth the security guard with the test subject, maybe because there were too many similar characters. One of the two (or maybe they're one) has a failing marriage, and after some arguments over the phone with his wife, wishes that the time rewind could do more than 5 seconds. Things break down even more, the rewind trick turns out not to be all that beneficial, and even ends the play in an infinite loop (nice plot trick - that universe now has no future). An average show - watchable but not outstanding.
    41. 20110617 20:00 The Animal Show at SAW.
      This was the highlight of the evening, though the audience was unusually small so we had to applaud extra hard at the end. Katie Hood tells her semi-autobiographical story of life as an animal rescuer with amazing energy and enthusiasm. It starts off being about saving the animals and getting paid too. When there's a report of an injured animal, she gets dispatched to rescue it, or to dispose of the body.

      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 animals.

    42. 20110617 18:30 Dying Hard at SAW.
      Stories from people in the mining areas of Newfoundland, originally recorded by an anthropologist and replayed by actor Mikaela Dyke. She's good at taking on the personality of each different character and their vocal habits and accents, perhaps a little too good for the first of the six subjects, with a really thick accent. We hear their tales of working in the mine in rough conditions, and then dying slowly from cancer (mostly due to radon gas) or silicosis of the lungs, or more quickly from physical injuries. Their wives have to live with a sick miner or as a widow, trying to keep their large numbers of children fed on meager compensation payments (still being argued over) from the government and sometimes mining corporations. Not a fun play, but well done and worth seeing if you are unaware of that part of history.
    43. 20110616 19:30 Live from the Belly of a Whale at St. Paul's Eastern United Church.
      Another whimsical production from Mi Casa Theatre, the people who did the wonderful Countries Shaped like Stars a couple of years ago.

      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.

    [Notebook Collection]


  19. 20110615 20:00 Assassins produced by Real World Productions at Orpheus House.
    $20 show, $11 dinner at Hintonburger.

    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.

  20. 20110611 19:00 The Silicone Diaries produced by Buddies in Bad Times at University of Ottawa Academic Hall.
    $36 show (4 pack price), $19 dinner at Swiss Chalet.

    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.

  21. 20110611 14:00 Kismet one to one hundred produced by The Chop Theatre at the Arts Court Theatre.
    $36 show (4 pack price).

    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 interesting too.

  22. 20110610 19:00 Kawasaki Exit produced by One Yellow Rabbit at the National Arts Centre studio.
    $36 show (4 pack price), $15 dinner at Jadeland.

    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.

  23. 20110608 19:30 Exit the King at the GCTC Studio produced by Third Wall Theatre.
    $29 show, $17 dinner at Spring Roll House.

    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.

  24. 20110604 21:00 5 Easy Steps (to the end of the world) at Arts Court Theatre by Zuppa Theatre Company.
    $36 show (4 pack price).

    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.

  25. 20110604 14:00 Yichud at Academic Hall at the University of Ottawa by Theatre Passe Muraille and Convergence Theatre.
    $36 show (4 pack price) $32 dinner at Golden Palace.

    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.

  26. 20110603 19:30 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $30 show (subscription), $15 dinner at MacDonalds.

    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.

  27. 20110601 20:00 This is What Happens Next at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show, home dinner.

    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 run over?

  28. 20110531 20:00 Messiah on the Frigidaire at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $21 dinner at Lone Star, $5 parking near OLT.

    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 over.

  29. 20110501 19:30 Brent Butt standup comedy as part of the Prarie Scene series. At the National Arts Centre theatre.
    $48 show.

    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.

  30. 20110426 20:00 Deliver us from Evil at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $18 dinner at The Yangtze, $5 parking near OLT.

    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 system.

  31. 20110416 20:00 Show Tune Showdown at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $25 show, $25 dinner at Won Ton House, $5 parking near OLT.

    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 awarded).

  32. 20110406 20:00 The Middle Place, produced by Project: Humanity, at the GCTC main theatre.
    $37 show.

    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 parent.

  33. 20110322 20:00 Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $18 dinner at Eastern Africa Restaurant, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  34. 20110316 20:00 The Shadow Cutter at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre, co-produced with Sleeping Dog Theatre.
    $36 show, $15 dinner at Les Grillades.

    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.

  35. 20110304 19:30 Into the Woods at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $30 show (subscription), $15 dinner at Ho Ho's Restaurant.

    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.

  36. 20110215 20:00 The Long Weekend at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $14 dinner at The Yangtze, $5 parking near OLT.

    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 the crowd?

  37. 20110212 20:00 The Trouble with Being Ernest at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show, $46 dinner at Big Easy's.

    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).

  38. 20110205 21:00 This is a Recording at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (undercurrents festival 6x pass), $18 dinner at The Works.

    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.

  39. 20110205 15:00 Spent at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (undercurrents festival 6x pass).

    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.

  40. 20110205 13:00 My Pregnant Brother at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (undercurrents festival 6x pass).

    The audience loved it, I'm out of time so you should be able to find a good review elsewhere.

  41. 20110202 20:00 Strawberries in January at the GCTC.
    $37 show.

    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 keys).

  42. 20110129 21:00 Hard Ways at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (undercurrents festival 6x pass), $38 dinner at Petit Bill's.

    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!

  43. 20110129 15:00 Shadows at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (undercurrents festival 6x pass).

    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).

  44. 20110129 13:00 Bifurcate Me at the GCTC Studio.
    $10 show (undercurrents festival 6x pass).

    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.

  45. 20110111 20:00 Trying at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $25 dinner at Takara Japanese Restaurant, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

Year 2010

  1. 20101217 20:00 It's a Wonderful Life at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show, $38 dinner at Trattoria Caffe Italia.

    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.

  2. 20101207 20:00 Inspecting Carol at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, home dinner, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  3. 20101124 20:00 I at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show, home dinner.

    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!

  4. 20101119 20:00 I at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show (subscription average), $38 dinner at Lindenhof.

    "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 that soon...

  5. 20101117 20:00 Vimy at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre, co-produced by GCTC and NAC.
    $36 show.

    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.

  6. 20101112 19:30 Annie at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $30 show, $15 dinner at Ho Ho's Restaurant.

    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.

  7. 20101107 15:00 Wingfield Lost and Found at Shenkman Arts Centre.
    $35 show, home dinner, free parking.

    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).

  8. 20101029 20:00 The Turn of the Screw at Laurier House. Show web site: Runs until November 7th.
    $25 show, no dinner due to a very filling team pizza lunch at work.

    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.

  9. 20101026 20:00 Honeymoon at Graveside Manor at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $13 dinner at The Yangtze, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  10. 20101016 20:00 Hamlet (solo) at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre, produced by Hope and Hell Theatre Co.
    $25 show, home dinner.

    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.

  11. 20101015 19:30 A Flea in Her Ear at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show (subscription average), home dinner.

    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.

  12. 20100922 20:00 The List at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre, produced by GCTC.
    $36 show, home dinner.

    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 list!

  13. 20100921 20:00 Crossing Delancey at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $10 dinner at The Yangtze, $0.50 parking near Yangtze, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  14. 20100731 19:00 Trouble on Dibble Street at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott Ontario.
    $25 show, $18 dinner (half of the very good food for two people deal, next time only need 1 main dish, not three to be full) at the Wonton Chinese Restaurant in Prescott, free parking.

    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.

  15. 20100731 14:00 Macbeth at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott Ontario.
    $25 show, $2 ice cream bar, free parking.

    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 huge umbrella.

  16. 20100727 20:00 The Andrews Brothers at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show (subscription average), home dinner.

    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.

  17. 20100716 19:00 A Midsummer Night's Dream by A Company of Fools at the Andy Grover park in Stittsville (now a part of Ottawa).
    $15 show, $9 KFC dinner.

    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.

  18. 20100611 20:00 Italian American Reconciliation at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show (subscription average).

    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.

  19. 20100610 19:30 Airport Security at the Irving Greenberg studio theatre in the GCTC building.
    $25 show, walked to the theatre from work!

    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 year.

  20. 20100609 20:00 Heroes at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre, produced by GCTC.
    $35 show, home dinner.

    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 details.

  21. 20100608 20:00 Present Laughter at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $20 dinner at Eastern Africa Restaurant, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  22. 20100604 20:00 The Producers at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $30 show ($40 at the door), $20 dinner at Swiss Chalet.

    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.

  23. 20100330 20:00 An Act of the Imagination at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $12 dinner at Ahora, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  24. 20100421 20:00 Facts at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre.
    $35 show, home dinner, free parking.

    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.

  25. 20100416 19:30 The Comedy of Errors by the Centaur Theatre Company from Montreal at The National Arts Centre Theatre.
    $37 show, $25 dinner at Viña del Mar.

    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.

  26. 20100410 20:00 Blood Brothers at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show (subscription average), $15 dinner at Phnom Penh Noodle House.

    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.

  27. 20100330 20:00 Enchanted April at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $18 dinner at St-Hubert's chicken place plus lots of Lindt factory outlet chocolate, $5 parking near OLT.

    A delightful Italian castle revives the spirits of several early 1920's British people suffering from a dreary post-war life.

  28. 20100327 20:00 Where the Blood Mixes at The National Arts Centre Studio.
    $20 show (half price deal).

    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.

  29. 20100317 20:00 blood.claat at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre.
    $35 show.

    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.

  30. 20100313 20:00 Show Tune Showdown at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $22 show, $23 dinner at Takara Japanese Restaurant, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  31. 20100305 20:00 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $30 show, $24 dinner at The Works.

    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.

  32. 20100224 19:30 Mrs. Dexter and her Daily at The National Arts Centre Theatre.
    $20 show (half price deal), $10 parking in the garage, $19 dinner at Moni Mahal.

    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.

  33. 20100223 20:00 The Memory of Water at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $20 show, $24 dinner at Lone Star Cafe, $5 parking near OLT.

    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 entertaining.

  34. 20100213 20:00 Shakespeare's Danish Play at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show (subscription average), $53 dinner at Big Easy's.

    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.

  35. 20100119 20:00 Drinking Alone at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $20 show, $16 Mexican dinner at Ahora, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  36. 20100115 19:30 Mother Courage and Her Children at The National Arts Centre Theatre.
    $37 show, $10 parking in the garage, $30 dinner at Johnny Farina at Elgin.

    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.

Year 2009

  1. 20091218 20:00 The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Town Women's Guild Dramatic Society's Production of A Christmas Carol at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show (subscription average), $40 dinner at Trattoria Caffe Italia.

    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.

  2. 20091215 19:30 A Christmas Carol at The National Arts Centre Theatre.
    $37 show, $10 parking in the garage, $19 Moni Mahal Indian food buffet.

    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.

  3. 20091208 20:00 I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $20 show, $23 dinner at Sushi Kan, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  4. 20091206 20:00 More Work than a Puppy at the Irving Greenberg studio theatre in the GCTC building, a benefit for the Shannon Reynolds Endowment Fund.
    $20 show.

    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.

  5. 20091204 19:30 Inclement Weather and Contries Shaped Like Stars at the Irving Greenberg studio theatre in the GCTC building, produced by Mi Casa.
    $30 show.

    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).

  6. 20091118 20:00 The Children's Revolution at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre, produced by GCTC.
    $35 show.

    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.

  7. 20091113 20:00 Little Women at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $30 show, $20 dinner at Swiss Chalet.

    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.

  8. 20091111 20:00 The Final Twist at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show (subscription average), $40 dinner at Big Easy's.

    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.

  9. 20091031 14:00 The Drowsy Chaperone at The National Arts Centre Theatre.
    $49 show, $8 parking in the garage (yearly pass).

    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.

  10. 20091030 20:00 Tell Me on a Sunday by Unicorn Theatre at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
    $0 show, $0 parking on the street.

    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 best.

  11. 20091027 20:00 And Then There Were None at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $20 show, $20 dinner at Lone Star, $5 parking near OLT.

    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 performance.

  12. 20091024 19:30 The Ark: The Theatre of Ancient Greece at the Dominion Chalmers Church.
    $20 show.

    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.

  13. 20091023 19:30 Gabriel the Musical by Goya Theatre Productions at the Centrepointe Theatre.
    $38 show, $18 Lebanese dinner at Les Grillades.

    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.

  14. 20091002 19:30 Noises Off at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $38 show (subscription average), $24 Korean BBQ dinner at Soora.

    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.

  15. 20091001 20:00 The Pillowman at Arts Court, produced by Vision Theatre.
    $25 show, $24 dinner at Casa Do Churrasco.

    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.

  16. 20090923 20:00 The Syringa Tree at the Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre, produced by GCTC.
    $35 show.

    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 their culture.

  17. 20090915 20:00 Same Time Next Year at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $20 show, $20 dinner at the Shanghai Vietnamese restaurant in the Byward Market, $5 parking near OLT.

    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).

  18. 20090801 19:00 Much Ado about Nothing by A Company of Fools at a park near St. Laurant, Ottawa.
    $20 show ($10 typical).

    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.

  19. 20090731 19:30 Seussical the Musical at école élémentaire catholique Sainte-Trinité in Rockland Ontario.
    $30 show.

    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.

  20. 20090717 19:00 Measure for Measure at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott Ontario.
    $22 show, $15 dinner (half of the very good food for two people deal) at the Wonton Chinese Restaurant in Prescott, $2.50 ice cream cone, free parking.

    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.

  21. 20090618 to 20090628 The Ottawa Fringe Festival at various venus around Arts Court and University of Ottawa.
    $7 show (several 10 show passes), trail mix and other snacks from the knapsack or pulled pork sandwiches ($6) and racks of ribs ($20) from Rib-Fest, $5 parking near OLT or free at World Exchange on weekends.

    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:

    1. 20090628 18:30 The Entrepreneurs at Arts Court Library.
    2. 20090628 16:30 The Secret Love Life of Ophelia at Arts Court Library.
    3. 20090628 15:00 On Second Thought at Arts Court Library.
    4. 20090628 12:00 Playing Princesses at Academic Hall.
    5. 20090627 23:00 The Accident at Arts Court Theatre.
    6. 20090627 21:30 The Women Come and Go at Arts Court Theatre.
    7. 20090627 20:00 Chaotica at Arts Court Theatre.
    8. 20090627 18:30 Satanic Panic at Arts Court Theatre.
    9. 20090627 16:30 Is Shakespeare Dead? at Arts Court Theatre.
    10. 20090627 15:00 Chatroom at Arts Court Theatre.
    11. 20090627 13:30 jump! at Arts Court Theatre.
    12. 20090626 22:30 The Tribulations of a Failed Vigilante at the SAW Gallery.
    13. 20090626 21:00 House at the SAW Gallery.
    14. 20090626 19:30 Uncalled For presents Today is All Your Birthdays at the SAW Gallery.
      The best one yet. Very entertaining, very good physical action and an ingeniously humourous script about CERN and time travel. Plus lots of birthday cake at the end, more than you can count. Worth seeing again and a few more times!
    15. 20090626 18:00 Like a Virgin at the SAW Gallery.
    16. 20090625 21:30 The Squatter Heart at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
    17. 20090625 20:00 Dante at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
    18. 20090625 18:00 Porn Star at Arts Court Library.
    19. 20090624 23:00 We Never Clothed at Arts Court Theatre.
    20. 20090624 21:00 Inclement Weather at Café Alt.
    21. 20090624 19:00 Countries Shaped Like Stars at Café Alt.
      My girlfriend waited in line to get tickets for this one (had to temporarily abandon the pork to find her) as it was very popular, particularly after several newspaper reviews. The small room made the production quite intimate, with people on sofas and chairs arranged on each side of the long rectangular acting area (kind of like a bowling lane), with Christmas lights on the ceiling and step ladders at each end. The actress did bowl some beer mugs of water down the floor too, at one point. A very whimsical, romantic and sad story. Fortunately they're showing it again in early December at the GCTC (or on demand if you hire them).
    22. 20090623 21:30 Hooray for Speech Therapy at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
    23. 20090623 19:30 Under the Radar at Alumni Auditorium.
    24. 20090623 18:00 Grandpa Sol and Grandma Rosie at Alumni Auditorium.
    25. 20090622 21:30 Fish Face at Academic Hall.
    26. 20090622 20:00 Enter Screaming at Academic Hall.
    27. 20090622 18:30 Jem Rolls' Leastest Flop at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
    28. 20090621 21:30 Wild Abandon at SAW Gallery.
    29. 20090621 20:00 Burying the Hangman at Academic Hall.
    30. 20090621 18:30 Welcome to the Moon at Academic Hall.
    31. 20090621 17:00 Oreo at Academic Hall.
    32. 20090621 15:00 Spiral Dive, Episode one at Academic Hall.
      I saw this one last summer in Saskatoon and noticed how it stood out as being very professional for a Fringe show. It maintained its excellent quality for the Ottawa performance, though we only got Episode 1 here; Episode 2 is being unveiled out west this summer. It's the story of a prarie farm boy joining up in the air force in World War II. It captures the feeling of going through training, learning to fly, leaving friends behind (one of whom is used as a ghost narrator, pointing out the less romatic deaths that were all too common) and then going to England. The three actors do very good characterisation, particularly for all those odd characters in the training squadron. The writers were smart and interviewed veterans to find out what things were really like, so it has the detail of real life at the time. For a while they were even using one veteran's lent uniform, but he died last year so they retired that bit of authenticity.
    33. 20090621 13:30 Catgut Strung Violin at Academic Hall.
      Follows the story of an army recruit and his violin, through enlistment, basic training, action and beyond. Sounds simple but the way the actors show the story with physical movement is amazing. It's like very speedy mime. Starting with hooded figures, we see the Anton, a young man, tricked and cajoled to be in the army by his wiser elders. The actors change roles by ripping off layers of costume, from officers arguing about who gets the boy to medical examiner and then the drill sergeant. There's one memorable moment as they dress the boy in uniform, in a rolling pile of twisting limbs and bodies taking off old clothes, putting arms through jacket sleeves and pulling on coats inside out, ending up with everyone in the right uniform. There's a parachute down to the front (with one of the falling actors quickly whipping out a passing cloud costume and acting as a cloud for about five seconds before switching to something else). There's fighting, the front, capture by an enemy, a sad escape, a mine field, a desert scene ending with the post-war honours that don't quite match the deeds. Worth seeing again, and enjoyable in all languages.
    34. 20090620 23:00 Pirate Jenny's Circus at Alumni Auditorium.
      This play isn't quite what the title implies on the surface, going deeper and darker at the end. Good singing and live music make this a true musical. It even has lots of props, like a wooden cart full of circus stuff. It starts off quite lightly with the travelling circus and their show. However, Genny also has to do tricks to make money, as it's not a very successful circus. Their leader is discovered by the police and shot, leaving the circus to fall into the evil hands of Genny's brother Bill. He gets them to put the show on a boat. Still unsuccessful, nerves fray and things go black, very black. After the trial, the audience has a choice to make about how they want it to end. I won't say more. Either way, it was a performance to remember.
    35. 20090620 21:30 Save Point at Alumni Auditorium.
      Charming mother and disaffected son story. The son spends his time at home playing video games, and his mom wants him to shape up. Lots of nagging (a good solid well done chunk of parental interaction), with nice voice chat / conversation with mom mixup. It's accompanied by the other son, who's also the sound man for the show, sitting at a laptop connected to a ghetto blaster. So when mom complains son isn't eating enough fruit, the worry is scurvey and rickets, but we hear cricket noises, sound son gets corrected. Roles get reversed when they're suddenly immersed in a fantasy quest video game, where son has to revive mom as they fight the monsters (alien with a raygun suspended from a clothes line). Lots of jokes about the virtual world, and current topics like Vista.
    36. 20090620 20:00 The Parker & Seville Show at Alumni Auditorium.
      Vaudville comes back to life. Though we also know this is a story of the life of the two actors, so we know it ended with death at a childrens party. Has its moments but Vaudville skits are a bit to short for today's non-drunk audience, somthing more meaty would help (like a longer version of one of their films).
    37. 20090620 18:30 Duel at Alumni Auditorium.
      A decent performance and portrayal of character. The angry man, his Vegan wife, his comic book store friend and enemy (and die hard Nordiques fan). Good use of cardboard boxes. Horrible death scene before the end with flying red pulp, then the very dramatic duel.
    38. 20090620 16:00 This is a Recording at Aluni Auditorium.
      A very well performed enactment of stories told by people in interviews, sort of like the animated Creature Comforts series. Good use of fabric to make a wedding dress, or a saint holding a luminous baby. The stories were quite varied and enthralling, one was a drug deal gone bad, another was about favourite heros and the choice of Turtles makes me think the original interviewee was a child.
    39. 20090620 14:30 Antique Bliss at Alumni Auditorium.
      In the future, Victorian rules have been revived. Some of the adolescents in the neighbourhood families rebel, others conform. Rebellious girl spies on the boys school to learn. Non-rebellious one says "It's not proper" when approached by a lover. Boys are similarly mixed up, switching between rebelling and conforming, not to mention the usual sexual tensions. In the end, things go badly wrong and the survivors have to leave. I'd have liked to see the parents do a bit more explaining to the kids of why they have the Victorian style rules of life and marriage, rather than mostly saying "No". Also I missed the Science Fiction component, why did the Victorian rules get revived, did society collapse?
    40. 20090619 23:00 Ten Years at Arts Court Theatre.
      A sequel to growing up in Ottawa Orleans, this time with life in Retail and searching for meaning and the next level of development.
    41. 20090619 21:30 Waiting for André at Arts Court Theatre.
      Bohemian life and poverty parallel plotted with Waiting for Godot advertising at a train station (one of the silliest advertising exercises).
    42. 20090619 20:00 Jesus Rant at Arts Court Theatre.
      What was Jesus's life really like, and how it has been warped by religion.
    43. 20090619 18:30 In a Magic Kingdom at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
      Growing up with adversity and death and yet finding hope. Well ennounciated.
    44. 20090618 23:00 Back to Front at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
      A no longer young actress's life as missing something, or someone.
    45. 20090618 21:30 No Exit Upstage at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
      Two roommate actresses with differing personalities meet at auditions and clash, comparing the life of a hard worker with one who's lax and the way they assign blame for their failures.
    46. 20090618 20:00 ...Comes Around at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
      A linked chain of sexual encounters and the shallow relationships of casual sex, with Absinth. The pink light of orgasm.
    47. 20090618 18:30 Heebs and Dweebs at Léonard-Beaulne Studio.
      Amy Salloway does it again. Though this is the first public performance of her new show, it was quite entertaining for the sold out venue.
  22. 20090617 20:00 The Affections of May at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $18 show, $23 dinner at Takara Japanese Restaurant, $5 parking near OLT.

    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.

  23. 20090616 19:00 Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb at the Diefenbunker.
    $6 show (includes popcorn).

    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.

  24. 20090613 11:45 Up at AMC Kanata 24.
    $6 show, $3 (loyalty benefit) popcorn.

    Tears, action and characters. Worth seeing again.

  25. 20090612 19:00 Trudeau Stories at The National Arts Centre studio, part of Magnetic North.
    $25 show.

    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.

  26. 20090609 19:00 Jake's Gift at The War Museum auditorium, part of Magnetic North.
    $25 show.

    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 Environment Canada.

  27. 20090607 16:00 The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan at The Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre, part of Magnetic North.
    $25 show.

    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.

  28. 20090606 16:00 Nevermore - The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe at National Arts Centre studio, part of Magnetic North.
    $25 show.

    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.

  29. 20090605 20:00 The Full Monty at Centrepointe Theatre by Orpheus.
    $25 show.

    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.

  30. 20090531 14:25 Star Trek at AMC Kanata 24.
    $12.50 show.

    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 writing restrictions.

  31. 20090512 20:00 Snake in the Grass at The Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $18 show, $25 Don Cherry's restaurant.

    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 father abuse).

  32. 20090509 20:00 Show Tune Showdown 2009 at The Bronson Centre.
    $16 show, $22 Royal Treasure Restaurant Chinese dinner.

    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 great fun.

  33. 20090501 20:00 A Guy Named Joe by Odyssey theatre at The Gladstone Theatre.
    $35 show, $9 KFC 3 pieces of chicken meal.

    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.

  34. 20090429 19:30 The Ecstasy of Rita Joe at National Arts Centre.
    $0 show (preview), home dinner.

    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 program.

  35. 20090422 20:00 The Net at The Great Canadian Theatre Company main theatre by GCTC.
    $37 show, home dinner.

    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.

  36. 20090407 20:00 London Suite at the Ottawa Little Theatre.
    $18 show (subscriber rate), $33 NAC Le Café early-bird special, $5 parking near OLT.

    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:

  37. 20090325 19:30 The Blue Dragon at the National Arts Centre.
    $20 show (Spring Thaw deal, preview show), $20 Moni Mahal Indian food buffet.

    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 together.

  38. 20090321 20:00 The Radio Show at The Gladstone.
    $35 show (half price bums in seats pricing not taken advantage of), home dinner.

    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.

Mostly 2008 and Earlier

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).

[Left-9] [Left-8] [Left-7] [Left-6] [Left-5] [Left-4] [Left-3] [Left-2] [Left-1] [Left-0] [Right-9] [Right-8] [Right-7] [Right-6] [Right-5] [Right-4] [Right-3] [Right-2] [Right-1] [Right-0]

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!

DatePlace and/or CompanyTitle
20090313Carleton University / Sock 'n' Buskin Theatre CompanyEvil Dead: The Musical
20090311Ottawa Little TheatreWrong turn at Lungfish
20090306Centrepointe / Orpheus Musical Theatre SocietyNunsense
20090304Great Canadian Theatre CompanyThe Drawer Boy
20090228Coliseum OttawaSlumdog Millionaire
20090227The GladstoneDoubt
20090221The GladstoneMidwinter's Dream Tale (comes with ice cream)
20090219Centrepointe TheatreCanadian Tenors
20090213Coliseum OttawaCoraline
20090204Ottawa Little TheatreOver My Dead Body
20090124National Gallery of Canada / A Company of FoolsThe Impressario by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
20090114Great Canadian Theatre CompanyTempting Providence
20081221National Arts Centre 4th Stage / By the Book ProductionsA Christmas Carol with John Huston
20081211Great Canadian Theatre CompanyComa Unplugged
20081202Ottawa Little TheatreThe Constant Wife
20081129Dominion Chalmers Church / The National Theatre School of CanadaThe Ark: The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht
20081128Arts Court TheatreMeta Schmeta: 8 Words that Ruined my Relationship, The Actor's Nightmare, Catastrophe, This is a Play
20081127University of Ottawa Tabaret Hall / Theatre Department & Unicorn TheatreDido and Aeneas
20081121Barrymore's Music HallThe Legendary Cooper Brothers
20081115National Arts Centre / Dash ArtsA Midsummer Night's Dream (Indian theme)
20081114Centrepointe Theatre / Orpheus Musical Theatre SocietyFame
20081104Ottawa Little TheatrePerfect Wedding
20081102Centrepointe Theatre / Goya Theatre ProductionsAnne & Gilbert the Musical
20081029Great Canadian Theatre CompanyZadie's Shoes
20081001The GladstoneHow the Other Half Loves
20080926Field near St. Laurent Shopping Centre / Cirque du SoleilCorteo
20080923Ottawa Little TheatreOn Golden Pond
20080916Great Canadian Theatre Company / Crow's Theatre ProductionI, Claudia
20080822Shaw Festival's Royal George TheatreAfter the Dance
20080808The Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsYves Saint Laurent
20080804Saskatoon Fringe FestivalTeaching the Fringe
20080804Saskatoon Fringe FestivalLa Mexicaine de Perforation
20080804Saskatoon Fringe FestivalSpiral Dive
20080804Saskatoon Fringe FestivalWoody Sed
20080804Saskatoon Fringe FestivalNuts! Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward
20080804Saskatoon Fringe Festival, also see their 2008 Show listKilling Kevin Spacey
20080725St. Lawrence Shakespeare FestivalAs You Like It
20080719AMC Kanata 24Iron Man
20080710AMC Kanata 24Hellboy II
20080618Ottawa Fringe FestivalOver 40 plays in a week and a half, see the Weekend Report for a partial list.
20080617Ottawa Little TheatreThe Ladies of the Camellias
20080610Great Canadian Theatre CompanyPlan B
20080607Arts Court Theatre / Seven Thirty ProductionsIron
20080606Centrepointe Theatre / Orpheus Musical Theatre SocietyThe Sound of Music
20080524National Arts Centre TheatreThe Way of the World
20080520Diefenbunker12:08 East of Bucharest
20080513Ottawa Little TheatreMy Old Lady
20080504Centrepoint TheatreRussell Peters
20080416Great Canadian Theatre Company5 O'Clock Bells
20080408Ottawa Little TheatreThe Woman in Black
20080405Bronson CentreShowtune Showdown
20080307Orpheus Musical Theatre SocietyThoroughly Modern Millie
20080304Ottawa Little TheatreThe Miser
20080213Great Canadian Theatre CompanyThe Optimists
20080129Ottawa Little TheatreDancing at Lughnasa
20080118National Arts Centre TheatreMacBeth (Kris Joseph and Pierre Brault)
20071228Ottawa Little Theatre / Zucchini GrottoLife Up On The Wicked Stage
20071204Ottawa Little TheatreLie, Cheat and Genuflect
20071202Glebe Community CentreA Christmas Carol (Dan Smyth)
20071128Great Canadian Theatre CompanyThe Real McCoy
20071124Las Vegas - Treasure Island / Cirque du SoleilMystere
20071121Las Vegas - RioPenn and Teller
20071115Orpheus Musical Theatre SocietyA Christmas Carol
20071110Great Canadian Theatre CompanyThe Good Father (Kris Joseph)
20071030Ottawa Little TheatreThe O'Connor Girls
20071024Great Canadian Theatre CompanyThe Man from the Capital
20071017Centrepointe TheatreWingfield's Inferno
20070925Ottawa Little TheatreThe Foursome
20070822Ottawa Civic CentreWeird Al Yankovic
20070629Arts Court TheatreKaftka and Son
20070628Ottawa Little TheatreA Murder is Announced
20070614Ottawa Fringe FestivalA bit over 30 plays!
20070610University of Ottawa Academic HallFamous Puppet Death Scenes
20070601Orpheus Musical Theatre SocietyThe Spirit of Orpheus
20070515Ottawa Little TheatreThe Sunshine Boys
20070512RA CentreOttawa Valley Quilt Guild show
20070505Centrepoint Theatre / les 7 doigts de la mainLoft
20070502Great Canadian Theatre CompanyHelen's Necklace
20070410Ottawa Little TheatreFallen Angels
20070401Great Canadian Theatre CompanyThe Four Horsemen Project
20070331Glebe Community CentreOliver! (Dan Smythe as Fagin)
20070327Edinburgh - King's TheatreThe Play what I wrote
20070323Edinburgh - King's TheatreTitanic, the Musical
20070321London - Garrick TheatreTreats (Billie Piper)
20070320London - Noel Coward TheatreAvenue Q
20070320London - Palace TheatreSpamalot
20070319London - Gielgud TheatreEquus (Daniel Radcliffe)
20070316London - Apollo Victoria TheatreWicked
20070315London - Strand/Novello TheatreThe Tempest (Patrick Stewart)
20070306Ottawa Little TheatreThe Drawer Boy
20070302Orpheus Musical Theatre SocietyGuys and Dolls
20070221Centrepoint TheatreJohnny Clegg
20070217World Exchange TheatresPan's Labyrinth
20070210National Arts Centre 4th StageZucchini Grotto
20070207Great Canadian Theatre CompanyA Number
20070130Ottawa Little TheatreCommunicating Doors
20070127Bronson CentreShowtunes Showdown
20061128Great Canadian Theatre CompanyLeo
20061123Orpheus Musical Theatre SocietyDisney's Beauty and the Beast
20061101Ottawa Little TheatreAn Evening of One Act Plays
20061020Centrepoint TheatreThe Frantics
20061018Great Canadian Theatre CompanyThe Oxford Roof Climber's Rebellion
20060916Shaw Festival's Festival TheatreArms and The Man
20060916Shaw Festival's Royal George TheatreThe Heiress
20060916Shaw Festival's Courthouse TheatreLove Among the Russians
20060915Shaw Festival's Courthouse TheatreThe Magic Fire
20060912Great Canadian Theatre CompanyThe Fall
20060826Cumberland Heritage Village Museum / Vintage Stock TheatreA Case for Murder
20060811Kingston City Park / Driftwood Theatre GroupAssorted Shakespeare
20060615Ottawa Fringe FestivalIntroduced my new girlfriend to the Festival, saw 23 plays.
20060530Landsdown Park / Cirque du SoleilQuidam
20060321Ottawa Little TheatreMelville Boys

Table of Contents

  1. 20090321 20:00 The Radio Show
  2. 20090325 19:30 The Blue Dragon
  3. 20090407 20:00 London Suite
  4. 20090422 20:00 The Net
  5. 20090429 19:30 The Ecstasy of Rita Joe
  6. 20090501 20:00 A Guy Named Joe
  7. 20090509 20:00 Show Tune Showdown 2009
  8. 20090512 20:00 Snake in the Grass
  9. 20090531 14:25 Star Trek
  10. 20090605 20:00 The Full Monty
  11. 20090606 16:00 Nevermore - The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe
  12. 20090607 16:00 The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan
  13. 20090609 19:00 Jake's Gift
  14. 20090612 19:00 Trudeau Stories
  15. 20090613 11:45 Up
  16. 20090616 19:00 Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  17. 20090617 20:00 The Affections of May
  18. 20090618 18:30 Heebs and Dweebs
  19. 20090618 20:00 ...Comes Around
  20. 20090618 21:30 No Exit Upstage
  21. 20090618 23:00 Back to Front
  22. 20090618 to 20090628 The Ottawa Fringe Festival 2009
  23. 20090619 18:30 In a Magic Kingdom
  24. 20090619 20:00 Jesus Rant
  25. 20090619 21:30 Waiting for André
  26. 20090619 23:00 Ten Years
  27. 20090620 14:30 Antique Bliss
  28. 20090620 16:00 This is a Recording
  29. 20090620 18:30 Duel
  30. 20090620 20:00 The Parker & Seville Show
  31. 20090620 21:30 Save Point
  32. 20090620 23:00 Pirate Jenny's Circus
  33. 20090621 13:30 Catgut Strung Violin
  34. 20090621 15:00 Spiral Dive, Episode one
  35. 20090621 17:00 Oreo
  36. 20090621 18:30 Welcome to the Moon
  37. 20090621 20:00 Burying the Hangman
  38. 20090621 21:30 Wild Abandon
  39. 20090622 18:30 Jem Rolls' Leastest Flop
  40. 20090622 20:00 Enter Screaming
  41. 20090622 21:30 Fish Face
  42. 20090623 18:00 Grandpa Sol and Grandma Rosie
  43. 20090623 19:30 Under the Radar
  44. 20090623 21:30 Hooray for Speech Therapy
  45. 20090624 19:00 Countries Shaped Like Stars
  46. 20090624 21:00 Inclement Weather
  47. 20090624 23:00 We Never Clothed
  48. 20090625 18:00 Porn Star
  49. 20090625 20:00 Dante
  50. 20090625 21:30 The Squatter Heart
  51. 20090626 18:00 Like a Virgin
  52. 20090626 21:00 House
  53. 20090626 22:30 The Tribulations of a Failed Vigilante
  54. 20090627 13:30 jump!
  55. 20090627 15:00 Chatroom
  56. 20090627 16:30 Is Shakespeare Dead?
  57. 20090627 18:30 Satanic Panic
  58. 20090627 20:00 Chaotica
  59. 20090627 21:30 The Women Come and Go
  60. 20090627 23:00 The Accident
  61. 20090628 12:00 Playing Princesses
  62. 20090628 15:00 On Second Thought
  63. 20090628 16:30 The Secret Love Life of Ophelia
  64. 20090628 18:30 The Entrepreneurs
  65. 20090717 19:00 Measure for Measure
  66. 20090731 19:30 Seussical the Musical
  67. 20090801 19:00 Much Ado about Nothing
  68. 20090915 20:00 Same Time Next Year
  69. 20090923 20:00 The Syringa Tree
  70. 20091001 20:00 The Pillowman
  71. 20091002 19:30 Noises Off
  72. 20091023 19:30 Gabriel the Musical
  73. 20091024 19:30 The Ark: The Theatre of Ancient Greece
  74. 20091027 20:00 And Then There Were None
  75. 20091030 20:00 Tell Me on a Sunday
  76. 20091031 14:00 The Drowsy Chaperone
  77. 20091111 20:00 The Final Twist
  78. 20091113 20:00 Little Women
  79. 20091118 20:00 The Children's Revolution
  80. 20091204 19:30 Inclement Weather and Contries Shaped Like Stars
  81. 20091206 20:00 More Work than a Puppy
  82. 20091208 20:00 I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change
  83. 20091215 19:30 A Christmas Carol
  84. 20091218 20:00 The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Town Women's Guild Dramatic Society's Production of A Christmas Carol
  85. 20100115 19:30 Mother Courage and Her Children
  86. 20100119 20:00 Drinking Alone
  87. 20100213 20:00 Shakespeare's Danish Play
  88. 20100223 20:00 The Memory of Water
  89. 20100224 19:30 Mrs. Dexter and her Daily
  90. 20100305 20:00 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  91. 20100313 20:00 Show Tune Showdown
  92. 20100317 20:00 blood.claat
  93. 20100327 20:00 Where the Blood Mixes
  94. 20100330 20:00 An Act of the Imagination
  95. 20100330 20:00 Enchanted April
  96. 20100410 20:00 Blood Brothers
  97. 20100416 19:30 The Comedy of Errors
  98. 20100421 20:00 Facts
  99. 20100604 20:00 The Producers
  100. 20100608 20:00 Present Laughter
  101. 20100609 20:00 Heroes
  102. 20100610 19:30 Airport Security
  103. 20100611 20:00 Italian American Reconciliation
  104. 20100716 19:00 A Midsummer Night's Dream
  105. 20100727 20:00 The Andrews Brothers
  106. 20100731 14:00 Macbeth
  107. 20100731 19:00 Trouble on Dibble Street
  108. 20100921 20:00 Crossing Delancey
  109. 20100922 20:00 The List
  110. 20101015 19:30 A Flea in Her Ear
  111. 20101016 20:00 Hamlet (solo)
  112. 20101026 20:00 Honeymoon at Graveside Manor
  113. 20101029 20:00 The Turn of the Screw
  114. 20101107 15:00 Wingfield Lost and Found
  115. 20101112 19:30 Annie
  116. 20101117 20:00 Vimy
  117. 20101119 20:00 I
  118. 20101124 20:00 I
  119. 20101207 20:00 Inspecting Carol
  120. 20101217 20:00 It's a Wonderful Life
  121. 20110111 20:00 Trying
  122. 20110129 13:00 Bifurcate Me
  123. 20110129 15:00 Shadows
  124. 20110129 21:00 Hard Ways
  125. 20110202 20:00 Strawberries in January
  126. 20110205 13:00 My Pregnant Brother
  127. 20110205 15:00 Spent
  128. 20110205 21:00 This is a Recording
  129. 20110212 20:00 The Trouble with Being Ernest
  130. 20110215 20:00 The Long Weekend
  131. 20110304 19:30 Into the Woods
  132. 20110316 20:00 The Shadow Cutter
  133. 20110322 20:00 Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme
  134. 20110406 20:00 The Middle Place
  135. 20110416 20:00 Show Tune Showdown
  136. 20110426 20:00 Deliver us from Evil
  137. 20110501 19:30 Brent Butt
  138. 20110531 20:00 Messiah on the Frigidaire
  139. 20110601 20:00 This is What Happens Next
  140. 20110603 19:30 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
  141. 20110604 14:00 Yichud
  142. 20110608 19:30 Exit the King
  143. 20110610 19:00 Kawasaki Exit
  144. 20110611 14:00 Kismet one to one hundred
  145. 20110611 19:00 The Silicone Diaries
  146. 20110616 19:30 Live from the Belly of a Whale
  147. 20110616 to 20110626 The Ottawa Fringe Festival 2011
  148. 20110617 18:30 Dying Hard
  149. 20110617 20:00 The Animal Show
  150. 20110617 21:30 The Suckerpunch
  151. 20110617 23:00 RaRa!: and the boifrend that br3ked her heart up
  152. 20110618 14:30 Best of Fest
  153. 20110618 16:00 Wet Dream Catcher
  154. 20110618 18:00 Subnormality
  155. 20110618 19:30 Every Story Ever Told
  156. 20110618 21:00 Glitch
  157. 20110618 23:00 The Walk
  158. 20110619 14:00 One Man Show of Doom
  159. 20110619 15:30 Fucking Stephen Harper
  160. 20110619 17:00 Spotlight On...
  161. 20110619 18:30 Einstein's Bicycle
  162. 20110619 20:00 Preshrunk
  163. 20110619 21:30 Double Yellow Line
  164. 20110620 18:00 Am I Blue
  165. 20110620 19:30 Fruitcake - Ten Commandments from the Psyche Ward
  166. 20110620 21:00 All My Children
  167. 20110621 18:30 Pick Your Path
  168. 20110621 20:00 The Interview
  169. 20110621 21:30 My Mother's Daughter
  170. 20110622 18:30 eX's & Oh's
  171. 20110622 20:00 Five Lies
  172. 20110623 17:30 Roller Derby Saved my Soul
  173. 20110623 20:00 Last Gig of Lenny Breau
  174. 20110624 18:30 Callaghan
  175. 20110624 20:00 The Search for a Reason for a Murder
  176. 20110624 21:30 Something with Virgins and Chainsaws
  177. 20110624 23:00 Peter n' Chris Save the World
  178. 20110625 12:00 Complex Numbers
  179. 20110625 13:30 OYTPS Showcase - Sweet Nothin'
  180. 20110625 15:30 Sounds from the Turtle
  181. 20110625 17:00 Requiem for August
  182. 20110625 18:30 Melting in Madras
  183. 20110625 20:00 Question Period the Musical
  184. 20110625 23:00 When Harry Met Harry
  185. 20110626 13:00 Padre X
  186. 20110626 16:30 Playing for Advantage
  187. 20110626 18:00 Canuk Cabaret
  188. 20110626 20:00 Curriculum vitae
  189. 20110626 21:30 Playing Dead
  190. 20110706 19:00 Antony & Cleopatra
  191. 20110720 20:00 Spider's Web
  192. 20110909 20:00 The 39 Steps
  193. 20110909 23:00 Spotlight On: John P. Kelly
  194. 20110920 20:00 Amelia: The Girl who wants to Fly
  195. 20110927 20:00 Inherit the Wind
  196. 20110928 19:30 James Randi
  197. 20111014 20:00 Speed the Plow
  198. 20111025 20:00 Doctor Cook's Garden
  199. 20111102 20:00 Whispering Pines
  200. 20111111 19:30 White Christmas
  201. 20111118 20:00 I do not like thee, Dr. Fell
  202. 20111206 20:00 I Hate Hamlet
  203. 20111207 20:00 A Midwinter's DREAM Tale
  204. 20111216 20:00 The Shadow: A Christmas Mysteries Radio Show
  205. 20111222 20:00 Shen Yun
  206. 20111231 20:00 Oliver!
  207. 20120118 19:30 2 Pianos 4 Hands
  208. 20120125 20:00 Blood on the Moon
  209. 20120127 20:00 Lost in Yonkers
  210. 20120203 20:00 Cyrano de Bergerac
  211. 20120210 19:00 Falling Open
  212. 20120210 21:00 Blue Box
  213. 20120211 14:00 Fort Mac
  214. 20120211 16:00 Live from the Belly of a Whale
  215. 20120302 19:30 Rent
  216. 20120303 20:00 Translations
  217. 20120307 20:00 '33 (a Kabarett)
  218. 20120317 20:00 Giant Invisible Robot
  219. 20120317 22:00 Third Time Lucky
  220. 20120327 20:00 Self Help
  221. 20120329 20:00 East of Berlin
  222. 20120331 19:30 Penny Plain
  223. 20120406 20:00 The Communication Cord
  224. 20120428 13:30 War Horse
  225. 20120504 20:00 Death and the Maiden
  226. 20120508 20:00 Beyond a Joke
  227. 20120512 20:00 The Extremely Short Play Festival
  228. 20120517 20:00 Straight No Chaser
  229. 20120530 20:00 Circle Mirror Transformation
  230. 20120601 19:30 Titanic the Musical
  231. 20120612 20:00 Dangerous Liaisons
  232. 20110614 to 20110624 The Ottawa Fringe Festival 2012 Edition
  233. 20120614 18:00 Love Bug Louie in a Blessing from the Cursed
  234. 20120614 20:30 Wolves > Boys
  235. 20120614 22:00 This is Today
  236. 20120615 17:30 The Boy and the Girl and the Secrets they Shared
  237. 20120615 18:30 Heterollectual: Love, and Other Dumb Ideas
  238. 20120615 20:00 Lonely Bear
  239. 20120615 21:15 Little Orange Man
  240. 20120616 12:30 Alien Predator: The Musical
  241. 20120616 14:00 Space Mystery… from Outerspace!
  242. 20120616 15:30 Hip-hop Shakespeare Live Music Videos
  243. 20120616 16:30 R U Smarter Than An Irishman
  244. 20120616 18:30 2020
  245. 20120616 20:00 The Open Couple
  246. 20120616 21:30 Don't make me Zealous
  247. 20120616 23:00 Crux
  248. 20120617 12:00 Donkey Derby
  249. 20120617 14:00 More Power to your Knitting, Nell!
  250. 20120617 15:30 Dead Wrong
  251. 20120617 17:00 Fallen: The Book of Samael
  252. 20120617 19:00 A MacSummer Night's Dream
  253. 20120617 21:00 Tis Pity She's a Whore
  254. 20120618 17:00 Gametes and Gonads
  255. 20120618 18:30 Danti-Dan
  256. 20120618 20:00 Wanderlust
  257. 20120618 21:30 Fishbowl
  258. 20120619 17:30 EX CATHEDRA
  260. 20120619 20:30 KUWAITI MOONSHINE
  261. 20120620 18:00 THE ROOMMATE
  262. 20120620 19:30 MABEL'S LAST PERFORMANCE
  263. 20120620 21:30 HARD TIMES!
  264. 20120621 18:30 IN WAVES
  265. 20120621 21:00 MERCUTIO AND OPHELIA
  267. 20120622 19:30 THE SUICIDE
  268. 20120622 21:30 FNL: FRINGE NIGHT LIVE
  269. 20120622 23:15 Late Night Cabaret
  270. 20120623 13:30 IT IS WHAT IT IS
  271. 20120623 15:00 TRASHMAN'S DILEMMA
  272. 20120623 17:00 VERNUS SAYS SURPRISE
  273. 20120623 18:30 100 FIRST KISSES
  275. 20120623 21:30 Leftovers
  276. 20120624 12:00 FEAR FACTOR: CANINE EDITION
  277. 20120624 13:30 AERIAL ALLUSIONS
  278. 20120624 15:00 PICKIN N' SHTICK
  279. 20120624 16:30 LITTLE LADY
  280. 20120624 18:00 BREAKING RANK!
  281. 20120624 19:30 WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
  282. 20120813 20:00 RiderGirl
  283. 20120916 20:00 Stones in his Pockets
  284. 20120925 20:00 Hayfever
  285. 20120927 20:00 The Secret Mask
  286. 20121012 20:00 How It Works
  287. 20121025 19:30 Peking Opera Soirée
  288. 20121027 16:30 Incident at the Bunker: A Zombie Adventure!
  289. 20121030 20:00 The Hollow
  290. 20121107 20:00 Fly Me to the Moon
  291. 20121123 19:30 Footloose
  292. 20121128 20:00 November
  293. 20121204 20:00 Mr. Pim Passes By
  294. 20121205 20:00 The Number 14
  295. 20121223 15:00 Miracle on 34th Street
  296. 20121230 14:00 Vernus Says Surprise
  297. 20130115 20:00 All My Sons
  298. 20130123 20:00 Blue Box
  299. 20130125 20:00 BatBoy the Musical
  300. 20130212 19:00 Little Orange Man
  301. 20130212 21:00 Little Iliad
  302. 20130213 20:00 Billy Bishop Goes to War
  303. 20130216 14:00 Metamorphoses
  304. 20130219 20:00 Pride and Prejudice
  305. 20130220 19:30 Chinese New Year Carnival
  306. 20130226 19:30 God of Carnage
  307. 20130316 19:30 The Drowsy Chaperone
  308. 20130322 20:00 Absurd Person Singular
  309. 20130326 20:00 Deathtrap
  310. 20130329 20:00 False Assumptions
  311. 20130405 19:30 MERZ
  312. 20130417 20:00 The Edward Curtis Project
  313. 20130426 20:00 The Taming of the Shrew
  314. 20130430 20:00 Come Blow your Horn
  315. 20130511 20:00 The Book of Mormon
  316. 20130522 19:30 White Rabbit Red Rabbit
  317. 20130529 20:00 In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)
  318. 20130531 19:30 Carousel
  319. 20130604 20:00 Steel Magnolias
  320. 20130612 20:00 Like Wolves
  321. 20130620 19:00 Red Bastard
  322. 20130620 20:30 Cathedral City
  323. 20130620 22:00 Never Fall in Love with a Writer
  324. 20130620 23:00 The Bike Trip
  325. 20130620 to 20130630 The Ottawa Fringe Festival 2013
  326. 20130621 17:00 Imprisoned
  327. 20130621 18:30 The Day We Grew Wings
  328. 20130621 20:00 Barely Even There
  329. 20130621 21:30 Die, Zombie. Die!
  330. 20130709 20:00 Noises Off
  331. 20130917 19:30 Skin Flick
  332. 20130925 20:00 Proud
  333. 20130927 19:30 Private Lives
  334. 20131018 19:30 Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Hansom Cab Killer
  335. 20131019 14:30 Salt-Water Moon
  336. 20131022 19:30 Deadly Murder
  337. 20131030 20:00 You Fancy Yourself
  338. 20131101 19:30 The War of the Worlds
  339. 20131122 19:30 Legally Blonde
  340. 20131203 19:30 Christmas Belles
  341. 20131211 20:00 Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)
  342. 20131213 20:00 The Frantics
  343. 20131218 19:30 Ethan Claymore
  344. 20131231 20:30 Paul Hutcheson: New Year's Eve
  345. 20140121 19:30 Rumors
  346. 20140125 19:30 Detroit
  347. 20140201 14:00 Kim's Convenience
  348. 20140215 13:00 Broken
  349. 20140215 15:00 The Tashme Project
  350. 20140215 19:00 Ridergirl
  351. 20140215 21:00 Morro and Jasp do Puberty
  352. 20140219 20:00 This is War
  353. 20140306 19:30 Half Life
  354. 20190502 19:30 Scary Poppins

Copyright © 2019 by Alexander G. M. Smith.