Reviews: Shadows, The Rooftop Guy, Prisoners Dilemma, Billy Stutter, Underneath it All, Wild Abandon, MAL
by Alvina Ruprecht, CBC Radio
June 21, 2010
Written and acted by Margo MacDonald, Shadows is a glimpse into the life of Eva Le Gallienne, famous British actress producer and director who made her professional life in United States. We see the important periods in her life in rapid flashbacks. Her work with her Repertory company, her roles in Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland as well as Hamlet and Hedda Gabler, Mainly we have an intimate look at her stormy lesbian relationship with Jo, another actress who was dedicated to Eva but Evaâ€™s own demons get the better of both of them.Â Two excellent performances by Sarah Finn as the beautiful Joe and Margo MacDonald as the tortured Eva. The play pinpoints the fact that living as a lesbian, even as a famous actress was not easy during the first half of the 20th Century… MacDonald is captivating and utterly convincingÂ as we watch her live her passion for her work andÂ for Joe and we see her slow degeneration into alcoholism and depression. A plum role for an actress, which Ms McDonald played most beautifully. DirectorÂ Diana FajrajslÂ createdÂ flashbacks that made the shifts in time very clear, she also transformedÂ a gas explosion into what looked like a theatrical stage effect so the whole play looked as though we were watching theatre within theatre. This is very intelligent directing on Fajrajsl’s part.Â Good set by Lynn Cox and a hauntingÂ musical background. Shadows is the best show Iâ€™ve seen yet in the Fringe.Â Be warned. This is not a comedy. It’s serious theatre.Â Plays at the Leonard Beaulne Studio downstairs at the University of Ottawa Theatre department.
THE ROOFTOP GUY
The title reminded me of Jim Careyâ€™s Cable Guy so I expected brilliant comedyâ€¦ Not so.Â This is a bore.Â A badly written script full of clichÃ©s about working for the Civil Service. It highlights an office joker who gets on everyoneâ€™s nerves and so they are out to teach him a lesson. Well he got on my nerves too and so did the play, plus this director really didn’t seem to know how to set up a text on stageâ€¦Â A couple of decent actors – Jen Jarvis and Tom Charlebois – but this was a waste ofÂ their time. Still, Civil Service humour is always appealing to someâ€¦ no matter what.
A cockyÂ little encounter written by Sterling Lynch. Two women are sitting in what appears to be a holding cell but it is not clear. The main thing is they are not allowed out.Â One tries to make polite conversation and periodically flips into the world of the SimpsonsÂ to break the ice and disrupt the logic of the situation.Â She is played by Brianne Tucker.Â The other woman who isÂ nervous andÂ apparently a bit more naive, is played by Nadine Thornhill. She isn’t interested in anything else except getting out.Â Half-way through in walks the guard, played by Jody Haucke. He gives the two women aÂ serious situation to resolve and whether they are let goÂ depends on how they calculate their answers.Â Thatâ€™s whenÂ we see who is able toÂ manipulate theÂ situation to her own advantage. Lots of tension here in a situation made for interesting theatrical possibilities but the direction was not particularly good.Â Wayne Current should haveÂ imposed a style on this play that was not necessarily so realistic.Â The guard, Jody Haucke got it. HeÂ was playfully threatening,Â so we are never sure he is serious. Â TheÂ others on the other hand, were trying too hard to be “natural”Â and you leave with the impression that something didn’t quite work.Â Plays at Leonard Beaulne Studio.
This a spoof of an Irish play by a group from Toronto whoÂ asks the question: what makes Irish Identity?Â The playwright shows us just that byÂ takingÂ all the stereotypes of Irish drama and turningÂ them into an Irish folktaleÂ filtered through a Jewish folktale as told by a contemporaryÂ Cyrano deÂ Bergerac and even Oscar Wilde. So, Irishness is more or less exploded into little pieces.Â This is written by Dan Hershfield who obviously knows theatre and has a very refined sense of humour.Â Billy is the outsider who appears to have aÂ serious stuttering problem, which means he canâ€™t speak. AÂ manÂ appears in the midst ofÂ Billyâ€™s little community, andÂ this sudden intruder, as though we were in a Pinter play, becomes the perfect cheating, drinking gambling womanizing villainousÂ Irish lover. There is also a sweet brother; a wide-eyed girl oozing with affection and in the midst of all the goings on there isÂ silent Billy. There are secrets in the air but Billy Â doesn’t dare open his mouth to tell all, Â or maybe he cant open his mouth,Â soÂ he takes out his frustration by boxing and digging graves. Is he the symbol of this impossible IrishÂ identity that literally canâ€™t speak its name? Maybe thatâ€™s the whole point. AlthoughÂ Â very well acted andÂ directed. I think the weakness was definitelyÂ in the writing where satire produced situations that were oftenÂ too predictable but at the same time, theÂ playÂ was so burdened downÂ by characters who talk and talk and talk thatÂ the humour did not always get through. BILLYÂ STUTTERÂ plays at Arts Court Theatre
UNDERNEATHÂ ITÂ ALL
Written and directed by Catriona Grozier, UNDERNEATH IT ALL is an accidental encounter in a broom closet that turns into a perfect little Fringe moment.Â A man and a woman find themselves in thisÂ tight dark space where they are forced to deal with each other for 45 minutes. It takes place in real time.Â The play focuses on the transformation of theirÂ feelingsÂ and it worked.Â I especially liked actorÂ Dean Adema who seems to be capable of much greater things. He is an enormously charming stage presence and has a rich speaking voice that tells you he is a singer. Marika Lapointe as the girl is a very angry characterÂ to begin with.Â Thus, she had a very broad spectrum of emotions to coverÂ in those 45 minutes, andÂ I thought she could have wrung much more nuances out of the situation.Â Anyway, itâ€™s a good show, the time goes by very quickly and we are almost sorry when it ends. So, UNDERNEATH IT ALL plays in the Arts Court Library and by the way, the library is the worst venue at the Fringe, so get there early and don’t sit beyond the first 4 rows otherwise you wont see anything.
A play written by the very talented Canadian Daniel McIvor – performed by Zack Counsil.Â A disjointed monologue where a young man, to get away from all the oppressive things about his parents and his immediate surroundings, escapes into his own fantasy world where a traumatic event brings it all to an end. The ending worked but the rest of it did not connect too well. I think the director and the actor have to take another look at the text and see what they missed. That was also at the Leonard Beaulne Studio.
Rachelle Ellie from Toronto has always wanted to be a serious actress but in spite of herself she is drawn into the world of clowns. So for the whole hour, she puts on different kinds of clown acts with wild costumes, that all inevitably come back to her alter ego: MAL… the angry, frustrated vicious clown who ends up in a frenzied wrestling match with balloons.Â Ms Ellie is very talented but it began to feel rather repetitive. MAL plays at the Mercury Lounge.