Happy August! I hope that you’re out there enjoying your summer, having fun, and taking as much theatre as you can – and in the great sunny outdoors, no less.
Before I jump into the listings, I just want to remind you that this will be the only newsletter to go out in August, and the next one you’ll get will be early September once the main theatre season gets underway again.
On Stage in August
The Financier (Turcaret)
Odyssey Theatre’s 28th season under the stars at Strathcona Park continues with their original translation of Alain-Rene Lesage’s Turcaret, titled The Financier.
From Allan’s review: If you’ve ever sat on a swing and twirled ’round until the chains were tightly wound and the tension was so tight that when you let go, you’re left spinning so satisfyingly out of control then you have an idea what The Financier is able to do through some finely-tuned plotting and direction that ensures that no matter how complicated it gets, it remains easy to follow along with. (onstageottawa.com/thefinancierreview)
Pretty well everything about The Financier is impeccable and it continues its run in the beautiful Strathcona Park until August 24th. Full details, including schedule and buying advance tickets: odysseytheatre.ca
As You Like It
Ottawa’s own A Company of Fools gets around, hitting up dozens of parks around town all throughout July with their latest Shakespearean offering, As You Like It.
From Caitlin’s Review: The actors all showed great versatility and talent, each playing multiple characters so well that you forget there are only five people in the cast. I was particularly impressed by how alive, alluring, and authentic the Duke’s puppet is. I have to mention, however, that Catriona Leger stole the show. I can’t decide if my favourite part of this show was her macho portrayal of Olivier was or her quirky Touchstone. Either way, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. (onstageottawa.com/asyoulikeitreview2)
For my money, this has been my favourite Fools production to date. I remember thinking to myself out amidst a crowd of several hundred in Hintonburg how great it was to see professionals work in their element. Not only is it an impressive feat to consider the show only has five performers, but they are all at the top of their game here in a show that you can feel how much fun they’re having performing every night.
The Fool’s tour continues through until August 16th at various parks around Ottawa, under a pass the hat system with suggested donation of $15. (And they now take credit.) Visit fools.ca for the full tour schedule to find the park nearest you.
The Tempest & The Two Gentlemen of Verona
There’s more outdoor Shakespeare to see off out in lovely Prescott on the St. Lawrence River courtesy of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival’s presentations of The Tempest & The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Both shows have been getting rave reviews and run alternating schedules in the outdoor amphitheatre now through August 16th. Full details, including scheduling and buying advance tickets: stlawrenceshakespeare.ca
The Screwtape Letters & The Great Divorce (final week!)
Bringing theatre back indoors, into the air conditioned studio at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, 9th Hour Theatre presents its double productions of The Screwtape Letters & The Great Divorce, both by C.S. Lewis and performed by the same cast in repertory.
From Caitlin’s Review for The Great Divorce: In addition to the delightfully fresh and fascinating perspective on the afterlife, The Great Divorce offers some solid acting from the ensemble cast, all of whom pull at least double duty in portraying the 22 character in the show. Everyone rose to the challenges of this piece with no one upstaging or outshining anyone else; it felt like a true team effort and a labor of love. (onstageottawa.com/thegreatdivorcereview)
From Caitlin’s Reviews of the The Screwtape Letters: Watching Screwtape (played by George Dutch) descend from being a great orator and respected senior faculty member to a desperate and ultimately dethroned demon is enthralling. Elizabeth Chant’s Slubgog is a hapless class clown that audience members can’t help but be charmed by. Everyone in the cast did a great job supporting one another and building a world that is utterly believable and clear. (onstageottawa.com/thescrewtapelettersreview)
Out of the two, I think I enjoyed The Screwtape Letters slightly more. While the ethical questions and themes were thought-provoking in both shows, I think there’s something to be said for clarity. The Great Divorce moseyed around its material, in vignette style, with a lot of characters but not a lot of connection to them since it’s harder to latch on to what they’re trying to accomplish. Oppositely, The Screwtape Letters was a much more straightforward narrative whose characters had clear goals and points of interest. Regardless, though, of your preference there, both productions were very strongly presented and impressed greatly.
Both shows run in repertory (alternating nights) now through August 9th in the studio at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. For full details, including schedule and how to buy advance tickets: 9th-hour.ca/
Occupy Me (one night only!)
For those of you hoping for another chance to see Bronwyn Steinberg’s yoga-tastic Occupy Me, you’ll get your wish on August 8th as she brings it back for one night only before going out on tour.
Welcome to the yoga class you can’t afford to miss. Your teacher, Sarah Lotus Blossom, is the embodiment of Zen on speed – she can’t quite let go and breathe. Join her for a transforming practice, where she grapples with joining the Occupy Movement, seeking Nirvana in India, and helping you find your own breath.
Occupy Me is an innovative form of performance: participatory yoga theatre which incorporates the spectators as well as the performer in a play that is also a yoga class. So pull up a yoga mat or a chair and enjoy an epic performance.
Full details, including how to get advance tickets, can be found here: http://www.ottawayoga.com/workshops/occupy-me/
And that is all I’ve got for you this time. I hope you have a wonderful August, that you take in some wonderful theatre, be it indoors or outdoors, and I’ll see you in September. As always, tell me what you’re seeing, and what you’re loving. It’s your feedback and support that keeps this newsletter going. You can get in touch with me down in the comments below or over on twitter @thatmackeyguy
Until next time, have a superb summer, and I’ll see you at the theatre.