Review by Ellen S. Jaffe
Montreal playwright Olivier Kemeid’s adaptation of Virgil’s The Aeneid (L’Éneide), at the Stratford Festival, is a powerful theatrical experience. Beautifully directed by Keira Loughran, the production uses ensemble movement and speaking, creative set and lighting design, and spare, poetic language to make Virgil’s epic relevant to today. First produced in French in 2009, in Maureen Labonté ’s translation, the play lets the audience empathize with the plight of seeing one’s home and city destroyed and risking a journey into the unknown to find a new, safe place.
Virgil’s epic poem (comparable to the Iliad and the Odyssey), written between 29-19 B.C.E., Photo by David Hou
Some of the AENEID cast seeing on-stage refuge
By Danny Gaisin
Precisely one year ago today, this scribe was in Stratford to attend the 2015 production of HAMLET. An amazing presentation, it was one of last year’s Arts Review’s TOP TEN LIST! Today, through the generosity of Sun Life Financial; the CBC aired a taping of that performance sans commercial breaks (eat your heart out trivago & Leons!). In addition to getting out my dog-eared Shakespeare compendium, I re-printed my originally published critique. Alas, three (3) little letters had been omitted…sort of like “for want of a nail etc.”
In describing the portrayals of support roles – courtiers Guildenstern and Rosencrantz read by Steve Ross & Sanjay Talwar respectively. More…
Review by E. Lisa Moses
The world première of Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch’s one-act play, Bunny, at the Stratford Festival, crams a lifetime onto the Studio Theatre’s tiny stage – all in 90 minutes. Under director Sarah Garton Stanley’s firm hand, Maev Beaty’s memorable performance as Sorrel takes us on a roller-coaster ride along two decades of her quirky life through both narration and acting.
Nicknamed “Bunny” by her best friend for the frightened looks she gets in social situations, Sorrel begins frolicking and fornicating through life at age 17. In this watershed year, she morphs from an “ugly dork” into a “hot dork” with the cheekbones and body of a supermodel.
Photo by David Hou
Campbell; Pellerin & Beaty in “BUNNY”
Review by E. Lisa Moses
The Stratford Festival’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s “John Gabriel Borkman” reminds us that winter in Norway gets pretty frosty. In Ibsen’s penultimate play, translated into English by Paul Walsh and directed by Carey Perloff, we can easily believe that it’s colder inside the family manor than outdoors. In the winter of his life, former bank manager Borkman, played by Scott Wentworth, obsesses about the trial that sentenced him to an eight-year prison term for embezzling his clients’ life savings to invest in a failed mining scheme. Since his release eight years ago, Borkman has been living in a self-imposed prison — the upstairs floor of his home.
Photo by David Hou
Borkman (Scott Wentworth) in an on-stage penitential moment
Review by Judith Robinson
The Shaw Festival’s production of Master Harold and the Boy kept the viewers on the edges of their seats for a full ninety minutes. Based on an incident in playwright Athol Fugard’s youth, the 1982 drama created an atmosphere of simmering tension, until the pot boiled over, and the audience leapt to its feet in an enthusiastic standing ovation.
Master Harold’s plot centers around the friendship between a white South African teenager, Hally, (Fugard’s childhood nickname), played by James Daly, and his black friend, Sam, played by André Sills—a clerk in his mother’s café and a servant in Hally’s home. Photo by David Cooper
Andre Sims; James Daly & Allan Lewis in a dramatic on-stage moment
Review by Danny Gaisin
The Hamilton wind was blowing at about 25 knots with gusts to 40; the Hamilton (HPO) Brass Quintet was blowing up a gale…of classical music! A free concert at the George Robinson band shell in Gage Park entertained a large group of fans including jammied kids, pets; picnickers; plus collapsibleas & blanket sitters. It was a ‘Tanglewood’ lite occasion and even the threat of rain fortunately held off. An early (7-ish) start offered sixteenth century compositions and the evening ran the gamut to as contemporary as today. Trombonist David Pell doubled as M.C. and offered a non-patronizing introduction for each piece being performed.
The H.P.O.’s Brass Quintet performing Hauser’s ‘scherzo’