CBC Radio One Review of “The Women Come and Go”

The Women Come and Go
Directed by James Richardson
Featuring: Mary Ellis and Kristina Watt
A 100 Watt Production

Venue: Arts Court Theatre

The Fringe is taking a professional turn for the best, judging by the opening night performances.

The 100 Watt Production Company is a newcomer to the Ottawa scene

It had its launch last night with a collage of some of the great roles for women on the English language stage, taking us from childhood, to maturity, from marriage to divorce, from love to hate, from youth to old age, and then through a great variety of situations. However, not all are theatrical texts. Many come from Journalistic interviews with women who are totally unrelated to each other, except that they all , become the “other “ voices of contemporary events. The most shocking, Kristina Watts curled up in a chair with a bottle of hard stuff, her stringy hair and the spaced out face, growling out her excuses for her son Charles Manson’s behavior. Or Mary Ellis toying with a platinum blond wig,, drawling like a certain blond bombshell we recognize instantly, as she tells her interviewer, she wants to be a “person”. , Its almost pathetic and having Ellis play the role, made it all the more strikingly theatrical because she had to create someone with whom she had no affinity at all. , A real “tour de force” by Mary Ellis and Kristina Watt , taking turns slipping seamlessly from one role to the next, carrying us along into about 23 different stage worlds with apparent ease.

Watch Mary Ellis as the aging star in Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth. It started sliding a bit too much into caricature towards the end as she seemed to lose control. This Williams creature is a tortured soul who keeps her dignity, even as she sinks into an alcoholic haze.

Watt as the hyper theatrical Mme Lina Schzepanowska (Shaw’s Missalliance) was one of the highpoints of the evening as was Mary Ellis’ majestic Madwoman of Chaillot from the play by Giraudoux.

The interviews with Watts and Ellis showing us how the Afghani women are caught between the Taliban and the Civilian government was extremely good political theatre, worthy of a moment with Augusto Boal ..and then it all ended with a touch of tragic lyricism as Anne Frank tells us all to have hope, What more is there to say. One almost had a sense that these voices were really speaking to each other, and they certainly connected with us most beautifully.

Of course, these multiple sketches follow each other so quickly that there is almost no time to set up the mood, capture the exact atmosphere (sometimes they get pretty close though) or , give the staged character all the depth and nuance it would have during a full performance. These are just hors d’oeuvres that suggest a more fulfilling meal but even so , this is very strong Fringe material. And watch out for Mlle Watt, she will be going places. An excellent show!

Alvina Ruprecht

CBC Ottawa



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