Is your life full of anger, violence, hatred, and general bleakness, covered by a glossy façade of upper middle-class values? Is your marriage hanging on by a thread because you don’t dare address your concerns in an open dialogue with your partner? Do you believe the only solution to your problems is screaming or heavy drinking? Would you like to see this horrible outlook on the world represented theatrically? If you answered yes to any of these questions, have I got a play for you!
Should you see it? Our latest reviews.
Adapted from The Who’s 1969 double album rock opera, Tommy, The Who’s Tommy is the story of Tommy Walker, a young boy who is left deaf, dumb, and blind, after witnessing a horrible tragedy in his home. As a teen, Walker becomes a sensation for being a wiz at pinball — the only thing able to break through his nearly catatonic state.
Important note: I had no foreknowledge of The Who’s Tommy, or the album (Tommy) from which it was adapted. This to the point of being surprised, doing some background research afterwards and learning that The Who’s Tommy wasn’t biographical. Yes, my knowledge of classic rock from the 60s/70s has huge holes in it, but that’s another discussion for another time. I felt it worthwhile to make this point for anybody who is like me and may be questioning “should I see this if I don’t know anything about The Who or Tommy?”
Relatable family conundrums and existential humour for all comers in Vania and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Plosive Production’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a two-act production with plenty of tongue-in-cheek Chekhovian references for the well-read and relatable family conundrums and existential humour for all.
Middle-aged siblings Vanya (Chris Ralph) and Sonia (Mary Ellis) live humdrum lives in their childhood home in Pennsylvania. That is, until their static daily routine is disrupted by the arrival of their vainglorious movie-star sister and benefactor Masha (Teri Loretto-Valentik), with arm-candy Spike (Drew Moore) in tow. To her siblings’ despair, Masha announces her intent to sell the family home. Deep-seated sibling rivalries and mid-life crises mingle as the characters discover what it truly means to live.Read the full review.
A quick Google search will tell you that Interior: Panic is the prequel to Tennessee William’s masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire. As a huge fan of that play, I was thrilled to see this production and revisit one of my favorite flawed females. This show adds a whole new dimension and understanding to the infamous Blanche Dubois (Blanche Shannon here). Happily, Interior: Panic also stands well on its own so it can be appreciated by theater patrons of all backgrounds.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (VSMS) is not the twelve-act adaptation of some soul-crushing Russian epic – though it does have its Chekhov influences. Rather, Plosive Production’s VSMS is a two-act comedy about three siblings and their rivalries and squabbles as they live their middle ages.
After caring for their parents during some very difficult years, Vanya and Sonia live a retired lifestyle on the family estate. While they seem to have no material wants, after an outburst from Sonia it begins clear that they envy their sister Masha, who went on to live the life of a movie star after their parents developed Alzheimer’s.
Sonia complains of the tedium of a life she’s yet to live — in such a way that these complaints also seem embedded in her routine. However, the predictability of their lives is soon disturbed when Masha makes an an unannounced visit, bearing news of the family estate’s imminent sale and Spike, a vapid and virile young actor who just can’t seem to keep his clothes on…
This past week saw the 2016 instalment of the Youth Infringement Festival. The festival, now in its 18th year, is an opportunity for young theatre artists to practice and put to work their passions in a way that generally isn’t open to them. Every play presented is written, directed, and performed entirely by artists aged 15-25 (under the mentorship of local professionals) and the festival itself is produced by young adults in that same age bracket. Some of the artists are enrolled in post secondary theatre studies or already have various stage credits to their names, but many have only their high school drama experiences behind them.
Like the upcoming Ottawa Fringe Festival coming up in just about a month, Youth Infringement is a theatre buffet of different shows and styles. Of the six plays presented this year, three of them impressed me quite a bit so let’s start with them:Read the full review.
Mouse House sees a best selling gay author looking for inspiration to finish off his latest book. To find it, the socially anxious Carson decides to spend a few weeks back at the isolated cabin where he and his brother grew up. His hopes of peace, quiet, and serenity are dashed pretty quickly when an intruder breaks into the cottage in the middle of the nigh to rob it. The robber, Troy is quickly knocked out with a bottle of wine too good to have wasted on him and wakes up the next morning chained to a bed.
With much more going on than initially meets the eye, Mouse House is a thriller that sees Carson and Troy engage in a battle of wills while putting both men in opposition to their morality and compassions on the way to a major second act twist that changes everything.Read the full review.
In the beloved Tony Award winning Broadway musical, My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins accepts a bet to take an uncouth cockney flower girl, train her in speech and manners, and pass her off indistinguishable from a well bred Lady of high society inside of six months. No spoilers from me as to whether or not he succeeds but I know what you’re thinking. What if Professor Higgins had been given a real challenge? What if Eliza Doolittle had been a zombie?
Well, welcome to the London of My Fair Zombie, where zombie attacks are the norm, roaming the streets in packs at night, and where, for the living, dealing with death is just a way of life. An extended opening song and scene is followed by one such attack, resultings in Higgins saving Eliza from being put down and the bet begins.
Belles Soeurs: The Musical is a very unlikely musical. Based on the play Les Belles-Soeurs by Michel Tremblay, Belles Soeurs introduces the audience to Germaine Lauzon, a working-class housewife in Quebec who has just won a million trading stamps from a department store. The jackpot is so large it would allow Germaine a chance to buy everything in the latest store catalogue. So overcome with pride and joy Germaine invites the neighborhood over for a party where everyone will help paste the stamps into the appropriate booklets for redemption. As Germaine’s neighbors, closest friends and family make their way into her crowded kitchen the jealousy, bitterness and contempt for Germaine’s prize sneaks up rather quickly souring what should be one of Germaine’s happiest days.Read the full review.
In Third Wall Theatre’s first professional production in two years, James Richardson takes us inside the head of the troubled and tormented Woyzeck. We see Woyzeck as a soldier. We see Woyzeck undergoing medical experimentation. We see Woyzeck jealous of his lover’s growing closeness to an attractive drum major.
A woman is brutally stabbed to death! All goes black! We hear a door slam! Woyzeck has committed a heinous act – or has he? Now trapped within a cell (is it an institution or his own guilt?) he re-experiences the past; he is taunted by his colleagues and experimented on by his superiors. The cycle of madness continues. (official synopsis)
The staff room. That mysterious place typically forbidden to students and where teachers can let slide their authoritative personae. Ever wonder what they get up to in there? The Phoenix Players’ production of Staff Room endeavours to shed some light on the matter.
The results, while comedic at times, tend to show that even these learned administrators are subject to the same human flaws as the rest of us. As Andre Dimitrijevic mentions in his director’s notes, because many of us, perhaps in Ottawa particularly, work in offices with staff rooms likes these, places which are a kind of “sanctuary… where insiders can drop their guards or hatch plots and where new members are tested or indoctrinated.”
Let’s go back, way back, to 1969, a time of Vietnam War draft dodgers, the emergence of contemporary feminism, astronauts landing on the moon, hippie-driven free love, and the crumbling façade of domestic bliss. Janet Wilson Meets the Queen shows us these issues and more in a darkly comic coming of age tale that will have you questioning your own politics from start to finish.
BEAR & Co.’s latest production, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, is a story about a couple whose only commonality is the loathing they share for one another. George, a college professor, and Martha, his wife and the daughter of the College president, are at each others throats from square one. Bandying insults with precision, as though to see who will be the first to succumb to a death of thousand tiny cuts from a barbed tongue—that is if their self-medication doesn’t put them down first.
Concord Floral, a rundown greenhouse on the outskirts of Hunt Club, is the local teenage hang out. It’s abandoned, dangerous and perhaps a little haunted, which is enough of a draw to make it the place to go for parties, hookups or to just hang out if one has snuck out past their curfew. This dilapidated building holds secrets of its own and hosts a number of haunted, if not haunting, characters.Read the full review.