Timon of Athens

Director – Stephen Ouimette

Starring Joseph Zeigler as Timon, Josue Laboucane as the Poet, Mike Nadajewski as the Painter, Michael Spencer Davis as Flavius (Timon’s steward), Ben Carlson as Apemantus and Tim Campbell as Alcibiades.

Everyone says this is a difficult play, but after seeing this wonderful production, you have to wonder why? Stephen Ouimette has directed a very clear and coherent modern dress version. Joseph Zeigler gives us a charming and passionate Timon. He likes everyone and assumes they like him to. When they turn out to be false friends, he is devastated and retreats to the wilderness.

Very strong performances by Ben Carlson as Apemantus and TIm Campbell as Alcibiades, (who looks like he just stepped out of a Canadain Forces recruiting brochure, ) also make this a must see play this season.  You don’t want to miss the poet or the painter either! And the dancing!

Timon is not often performed, so make sure you see it.

 

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Romeo and Juliet

Director – Scott Wentworth

Starring Sara Farb as Juliet, Antoine Yared as Romeo, Evan Buliung as Mercutio, Jamie Mac as Benvolio, Wayne Best as Friar Laurence, and Seana McKenna as the Nurse.

This was a very dark production in many senses. The costumes were overwhelmingly black and grey for the nobility and beige and brown for the servants. Only Mercutio stood out with a bright red jacket! Juliet wore pale blue.

But it was also a dark production in that there were many symbols of death and sin. The chorus of nurses and the apothecary, wearing a strange frightening looking bird mask all added to the atmosphere of doom.

It was also a young production, where the principal characters were clearly young teenagers, not mature adults. It occurred to me that if they had lived, divorce might have been in the future, they knew so little about each other or about life.

Seana McKenna was fabulous as the Nurse. It is worth going to see her for no other reason.  But see the whole thing. It is a very good production. You don’t want to miss Evan Buliung’s Mercutio ( he seemed much more comfortable in this role than as Sky Masterson). You should see Wayne Best!s Friar Laurence. And you don’t want to miss seeing the star crossed lovers – two leading performers destined to become stars of the company.

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HMS Pinafore

if you love Gilbert and Sullivan, you will love this production.  Great cast, singing and dancing. The costumes are lovely : I mention this because we once saw a D’Oyly Carte production where the costumes were so worn out and tatty that we were embarassed for the actors that had to wear them.

Steve Ross was a charming Captain, Jennifer Rider Shaw was his delightful daugher Josephine.  Lisa Horner captivated everyone as Buttercup, Devon Michael Brown again demostrated his over the top dancing abilities.

This may be my last G&S. it doesn’t matter how good the production is, the basic content is just not good enough anymore.

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Guys and Dolls

Directed by Donna Feore

Starring Evan Buliung as Sky Masterson, Alexis Gordon as Sarah Brown,  Sean Arbuckle as Nathan Detroit, Blythe Wilson as Miss Adelaide, Steve Ross as Nicely Nicely Johnson  and Beau Dixon as Big Julie

Donna Feore has again proven that no one can match her as the director and choreographer of musical comedy. The dancing, the singing, the costumes and the special effects were all terrific. I loved the switch from the black and white to colour. I loved the dance numbers, especially the strip tease number. And no one will forget the fantastic acrobatics of dancer Devon Michael Brown.

But even this terrific production did not convince me that this is the perfect musical. But if you like Guys and Dolls, you will love this one.

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Twelfth Night

Director – Martha Henry

Cast – Sarah Afful as Viola, Michael Blake as Sebastien, E.B. Smith as Orsino, Shannon Taylor as Olivia, Brent Carver as Feste, Lucy Peacock as Maria, Geraint Wyn Davies as Sir Toby Belch, Tom Rooney as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Rod Beatty as Malvolio.

In contrast to the production of Twelfth Night that we saw at the National Theatre a couple of months ago, this was not Malvolio’s play. Rod Beatty played a character among many others. Instead, this production used all the available talent to great effect. And it certainly had lots of talent to show. The cast list is a who’s who of not just the Stratford company, but of Canadian stars.

Lucy Peacock was a womderful Maria. Geraint Wynn Davies and Tom Rooney were hilarious as the two drunks.  Brent Carver was a wistful obsever Feste.

But the show belonged to Sarah Afful. She lit up every scene she was in. She was sad, she was funny, she was completely delightful. She is definitely one to watch!

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

National Theatre Live

Playwright Tom Stoppard,

Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Joshua McGuire as R and G, witha stellar performance by an actor whose name we canno remember or find as The Player King.

I remember seeing this play when I was in university in the late sixties, but the title was more memorable than the play. As it had it’s first production in England in the early, mid sixties, it is surprising that university productions were able to get the rights. But then perhaps they did not bother with such niceties!

And I cannot imagine that I could have made anything out of the play at the time. I had never seen and possibly never read, Hamlet. As a French literature major, I had heard of Beckett and even studied En Attendant Godot, but never seen a performance. Without the background of those two plays, what could I have made of that university production? Not much, although I seem to recall enjoying it.

Now that I am much older and much better educated and experienced in the theatrical world, I completely loved the National Theatre Live presentation of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. The two actors were charmingly naive, waiting for someone to tell them what to do and to explain what is going on. Of course, no one ever does and they are left to wonder and wander aimlessly around the stage.

Stoppaard has a way of making you feel tremendously uneducated. (See earlier comments on Travesties). His plays are simple on the surface, but filled with allusions to literature, history and the world around. At least with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern I felt I had a chance!

 

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Midsummer

Written by Daniel Greig and Gordon McIntyre

Directed by Tamara Bernier Evans

Two people meet in a bar on Midsummer Eve in Edinburgh. One is a lawyer, the other a petty thief, but is spite of these differences the two connect in a wild and very funny weekend.  There occasional musical interludes.

Stars Brandon McGibbon and Carly Street both sound authentically Scottish, but both have long lists of Canadian experience.

This is not a deep play, full of important ideas, but it was great fun and such a relief after Crash the night before!

 

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