Reviews: Shadows, Burlesque Unzipped, Men Telling Stories

By Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen
June 20, 2010


Queen Mab/Parry Riposte Productions

Peter Pan, it seems, was a character 1930s New York actor Eva Le Gallienne loved playing. The actor’s hunger for a care-free life and her instinctive connection with a character who eschews the touch of anyone are among the many telling details in Margo MacDonald’s sumptuous, gripping look at the troubled Le Gallienne. MacDonald portrays the lesbian actor whose alcoholism and sexual voraciousness helped shield her from life and who in the play proclaims that only in the theatre and her own home did she feel safe. Sarah Finn plays actor Josephine Hutchinson; as Le Gallienne’s lover, she suffers the wounds that her partner inevitably inflicts. A cipher, maybe, for others in her profession, Le Gallienne can happily inhabit her characters’ lives but never accepts her own.

At Studio Leonard-Beaulne until June 26 (arrive early for Shadows: it’s popular).

Burlesque Unzipped

Prairie Fire Presents

Equal parts titillation, female empowerment and social subversion, burlesque boasts a history as tantalizing as a pretty woman’s smile. Toronto’s Sharon Nowlan unveils that rich backstory as she struts her stuff with a wink and a nod. A more accomplished dancer and whip snapper than writer or actor, Nowlan reveals the rise of the music hall as an antidote to the drudgery of the industrial revolution, pays homage to May West, and traces the transformation of burlesque from variety show to strip tease. She also dances a mean cancan, underscoring its essential joke: I’ll tease you, you get mildly turned on while realizing you’re being manipulated, and we’ll both have a fine old time. And isn’t a good time what burlesque is all about?

At Academic Hall until June 26.

Men Telling Stories

That Dinosaur is Blue Productions

If you’re male, you’ll totally get it. If you’re not, you’ll gain some insight into, and perhaps sympathy for, the burden that it is to be a guy. Kingston’s Peter Nielsen and Matt Stewart turn the spotlight on important man stuff: the consequences of wolfing down salsa even though you know it’s past its best-before date; the pain of getting your head caught in a chair not once, but twice; the life-altering experience of being struck where it truly hurts (this, the duo has rightly decided, is worthy of an entire “seminar” on manhood, one of a couple they conduct during their ridiculously funny 45 minutes on stage). Men who shave their chests would do well to skip the show.

At Arts Court Library until June 27.

The Ottawa Fringe Festival continues until June 27 at downtown locations.

2 responses to “Reviews: Shadows, Burlesque Unzipped, Men Telling Stories

  1. Yes, the guys were energetic and well-rehearsed but I found their show to be far from hilarious. It seemed to me that, as might be expected for performers relatively young, they haven’t yet had many memorable experiences to speak about. Therefore some of them, for example the teacher story, were pretty lame. Perhaps advertizing for the show should be directed towards other young adults.

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