Little Thing, Big Thing

There’s a hell of a lot at work in Little Thing, Big Thing. Resurrected by director Jeremy Webb, the Merritt-winning Neptune take on Donal O’Kelly’s play is a venture jam-packed with hints of Hitchcock-esque suspense riddled with madcap antics and a million different feckin’ uses of the f-word.  Between moments of beautiful poetic language and humour, Little Thing, Big Thingstrives to tackle the world of international politics and the impossibly long reaches of mega-corporations (in this case the affluent Scarab Oil company). At the end of the day, it’s a warped world that firmly straddles the line somewhere between amazing and alright.

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Little Thing, Big Thing 

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The Color Purple

Right from the get-go, there’s been a ton of hype regarding the musical adaptation of Neptune Theatre’s The Color Purple, thanks mostly to the shameless plugging by its Artistic Director, Jeremy Webb. The advertising appears to have paid off in full, as this was one of the most attended Neptune shows I’ve been to recently. And thankfully, The Color Purple largely does justice to Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning source material.  It’s a gamble that pays off.

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The Color Purple

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Noises Off

A mix of Inception meets Fawlty Towers, the farcical play within a play within a play Noises Off is a layered hybrid of classic slapstick and dry British comedy. Directed by Jeremy Webb, Neptune Theatre brings Michael Frayn’s work—a comical marathon nearly three hours long—to life thanks to a busload of manic energy provided by its ensemble of talented actors.

 

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Noises Off

Lo (Or Dear Mr. Wells)

Closing this weekend on Neptune’s second stage is Rose Napoli’s magnificent study on the issues of consent and the abuse of power from those we trust most. Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) follows the story of Laura (Celia Koughan), a troubled 15-year-old who discovers newfound purpose in her English teacher Alan Wells’ (Josh MacDonald) creative writing club. The sole participant, Laura immediately establishes herself as a gifted writer, spurred on by the earnest encouragement of her teacher. But as the lessons continue, the relationship between mentor and mentee shifts rapidly from innocent to illicit.

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Lo

Burn

Down at the rebranded Sawmill Playhouse, (formerly Dartmouth Players), director Kelly Doney-Morrison brings her vision of John Muggleton’s Burn to the stage. Despite it being still in its infancy, the six-month-old Burn is/has already been staged in three Canadian cities (Dartmouth, Ottawa, and Vancouver). Advertised as a psychological thriller, the cast and crew of Dartmouth Players work hard to give this razor-sharp play some teeth.

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Burn

The Bridge

There’s a world of hurt at play within The Bridge’s complicated microcosm. A partnered production between Halifax’s 2b theatre and Toronto’s Obsidian Theatre, a vivid world penned by playwright Shauntay Grant explodes to life at Neptune Theatre. Directed by Anthony Black, The Bridge weaves a world chock-full of intricate deceit and motive against a rural Black Nova Scotian backdrop. Bad blood runs rampant, gossip flows freely, and glimpses of truth enticingly flicker before retreating beneath the surface. It’s a seductive study of complicity, punishment, and fault that continuously unpacks more and more questions.

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The Bridge

Joyride

From the moment Joyride hits the road, disaster is imminent. Behind the wheel of Matchstick Theatre’s newest production are Halifax locals Taylor Olson, Kya Mosey, and Henricus Gielis. All three work together in fine form, endowing playwright Michael Melski’s gritty piece of theatre with stark realism.

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Set in Cape Breton, Joyride focuses on the plight of the sarcastic, downtrodden Rachel (Mosey), who, cursing her crappy minimum wage job, finds herself sandwiched between the adverse affections of her male costars. On one end of the spectrum is the insecure and underachieving Jess (Gielis),who ineffectively attempts to blanket Rachel from friend/recent parolee Craig (Olson)— Joyride’s chaotic evil, who’s back to reclaim his position as Sydney’s reigning dirtbag. Upon learning that Rachel’s disliked boss is sitting on a secret stash of thousands of dollars, jailbird Craig can’t help himself from wanting a piece of the pie.

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Joyride

The Woods and Gadfly

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Live Art and the contemporary dance gods that be are back in Dalhousie’s Dunn Theatre with a double bill comprised of Halifax’s own dance group The Woods and Toronto-based Gadfly. The result is an hour of redefined, innovative dance that simmers and burns to various degrees.

The Woods opened up the night with a slow-burn performance entitled _______Interrupted, a moving and dramatic set that explored both mental and physical health. More specifically, The Woods explore how the two systems interact within us, and what can happen when they fall out of sync. Fusing together various dance moves with pulsing, rhythmic musical numbers from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Drake,  _______Interrupted is a slower affair than I expected. It’s also more cryptic and abstract than other dance shows I’ve been to. Unless you read the program’s writeup, you may be left scratching your head while trying to decipher the message The Woods are trying to convey. With seamless transitions and sequences that lacked neither popping nor locking, _______Interrupted was a skillful, if winding, marvel that successfully fused hip-hop dance styles with a contemporary edge.

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The Woods and Gadfly

Cinderella

I can’t say I was chomping at the bit to see Cinderella, the latest of Neptune Theatre’s holiday offerings. Albeit a holiday show bereft of holiday feels (you’ll have to see A Christmas Carol for that), this fairytale adaptation proves to be a disarmingly zany experience. Defining itself as a British-panto with a sprinkle of audience participation, it’s also replete with covers of popular songs, ranging from Great Big Sea to Carly Rae Jepsen to Imagine Dragons to Cyndi Lauper. In doing so, Cinderella avoids being cliche dinner theatre and instead revels in its success as musical theatre enjoyable for all ages.

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Cinderella

The Mellotones

Maritime R&B darlings The Mellotones were booked for a weekend of Motown fun at Neptune Theatre. Celebrating twenty years on the road together, this well-oiled, octet powerhouse plucked the finest gems from their catalogue for a night of funkadelic revelry. Cooking up a batch of some delicious “soul stew” (their words, not mine), the Mellotones pull out all the stops, moving through the decades and giving simmering tastes of musical legends who’ve inspired them during their career. Brandishing a solid twenty-track setlist, the night offered up great renditions of songs by Al Green, Edwin Starr, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder – the latter of which deserves a special spot of praise for actually making me like “Superstition.” So for that, bravo.

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The Mellotones