“John Gabriel Borkman”: The big chill Reply

Review by E. Lisa MosesReviewer E. Lisa
The Stratford Festival’s production of Henrik Ibsen’sJohn 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 in a penitential moment

Borkman (Scott Wentworth) in an on-stage penitential moment


Shaw’s “MASTER HAROLD”- magical! Reply

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

Andre Sims; James Daly & Allan Lewis in a dramatic on-stage moment


Underhay triumphs in “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” Reply

Review by Judith RobinsonreviewerJudith Robinson
All eyes were on Nicole Underhay as she demonstrated the muscle, power and competitive spirit of Olympic sprinter- Usain Bolt. She outran the pack in the Shaw Festival’s production of Mrs. Warren’s Profession with the style and grace of the gold medal runner. While Underhay was clearly capitalizing on playwright George Bernard Shaw’s brilliant speeches, she was taking their impact to a whole new level.
The role of Kitty Warren has its complexities – testing the emotional strength of the most seasoned actor. The brother Madame must be a genius entrepreneur, a cool-headed manipulator, seductive, warm-hearted, maternal and generous.   Photo by David Cooper

cast members of "Mrs. Warren's Profession

      Cast members of “Mrs. Warren’s Profession


Soulpepper’s gut-wrenching ‘Father comes home…’ Reply

Review by Judith RobinsonreviewerJudith Robinson
     Father Comes Home from The Wars (Parts I, II, III) – three short plays in a three-hour production – explores betrayal, bigotry and the fight for freedom during the American Civil War. Soulpepper’s production of Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’ work is gutsy, moving and risk-taking.  The energy peaks in the second section entitled “A Battle in the Wilderness” when Dion Johnstone, as Hero, the central character on a journey, loosely fashioned after Homer’s Odyssey, becomes lost in the wilderness in the midst of a Civil War dispute. Hero has chosen to follow his master;    Photo courtesy of Cylla von Tiedemann

cast members of "Father Came Home" in a dramatic moment

cast members of “Father Came Home” in a dramatic moment


SHAW’s “Dance of Death” explores the dark side of love Reply

Review by Ellen S. JaffeReviewerEllen S.
            August Strindberg’sDance of Death,” at the Shaw Festival, was written in 1900 but it is relevant today, especially in Conor McPherson’s modern adaptation.  It is a complex play, well worth seeing. The title comes from the medieval image of the danse macabre, in which Death leads a whirling procession of humans to their end.
Masterfully directed by Martha Henry, the play depicts a verbal dance – or war of words between a couple on the brink of their 25th anniversary. It’s always good to see theatre in which Henry has a role.   Photo courtesy of David Cooper

Reid; Galligan & Mezon in "Dance of Death"

Reid; Galligan & Mezon in “Dance of Death”


“The Last Donnelly Standing” fires up history Reply

Review by E. Lisa MosesReviewer E. Lisa
Based on a true story, fit for the finest crime novels, the Blyth Festival’s world premiere of The Last Donnelly Standing resurrects a sinister slice of 19th-century Ontario history. Written by Paul Thompson and Gil Garratt – well known Canadian playwrights, actors and artistic directors, the one-person show challenges the audience to ride along with a tortured soul trying to make sense of his tragic life. Beth Kates’s clever set evokes the spirit of raw and rustic rural Ontario, whether it’s the family homestead, the local watering hole or the big horse-drawn wagon that hauls commercial loads.

Gil Garratt as Robert Donnally

Gil Garratt as Robert Donnelly,  ( Photo by Terry Manzo)