Obstacle Fest

Terra Novella Theatre’s newest adventure, Obstacle Festis built on the simple, unspoken fact that some of the best theatrical moments happen when something goes horribly wrong. A single, unexpected mishap has the make-or-break ability to change the course of a play.

Obstacle Fest is a mixed-bag in terms of its comedic highs and lows. Written, directed, and acted by both newcomers and veterans of the stage, the event features many delightful actors who carried their scenes despite their particular limitations. In other moments, actors went overboard with hammed-up performances and mugging to the audience, which ended up proving that some obstacles can end up working against a play as a whole.

For full review, visit:

Obstacle Fest

 

 

 

Advertisements

Landline

32805406_10160305221285332_1749944056357584896_n.jpg

Truth be told, I’ve never really been one for meditation or deep introspection. I am, in many ways, quite guarded emotionally-speaking. I can be frustratingly socially-awkward and self-conscious, and so self-reflective, open-ended, and abstract lines of thinking are often quite difficult for me to embrace.

Halifax’s XOTHEATRE seems to thrive on secrecy. I had little idea of what to expect, and what preconceptions I initially had proved quickly to be incorrect. The location is a secret, and only two people can attend, (for lack of a better word), a “performance,” at a time. You get hooked up with an iPod Shuffle, headphones, and a phone number on your cell belonging to a stranger in Victoria, British Columbia, who is simultaneously doing the exact same thing as you. So start walking and prepare for further instructions.

For full review, click here:

Landline

 

In A World Created By A Drunken God

drunkengod-jeff_schwager_sean_hauk_2_.jpg

For Torontonian Jason (Sean Hauk), life is turned upside down when a stranger named Harry (Jeff Schwager) comes knocking at his door with the news that he is Jason’s half-brother. Their father, who abandoned Jason and his mother 30 years ago, is dying of kidney failure. The news of this man’s failing health fails to have any gravitas for Jason, as does Harry’s insistence that he possesses the rare ability to be a life-saving organ donor.

With Neptune Theatre’s newest venture, In A World Created By A Drunken God, Ojibwe playwright Drew Hayden Taylor’s subtly poses questions concerning morality and familial obligation. To what do we owe relationships that were never nurtured? Is it acceptable to keep what happened in the past unaddressed and unresolved?

For full review, visit:

In A World Created By A Drunken God at Neptune

The Mountaintop

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 9.00.04 AMIt’s in the early hours of April 3rd, 1968 and Martin Luther King Jr is in his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. In a matter of hours he will be relegated to the pages of history, branded as an idyllic crusader for human rights and justice. If you think you have an idea as to what this play will be like, there is a likely chance you are mistaken. As described by director Ahdri Zhina Mandiela, “The Mountaintop is not only a raid on the deification of an unwilling martyr, but a poetic muse on the fragility of the human condition.”

For full review, please visit:

The Mountaintop

 

Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes

28534730_10155948472595792_1582286621_n
Peter Sarty (front), Andrew Chandler (behind). Photo Credit: Samm Fisher

It’s seconds into Matchstick Theatre’s newest production and lights come up on the titular Peter Fechter, dying slowly from a gunshot wound. The year is 1962 and Berlin is partitioned by its controversial Berlin Wall.  Having failed like many others to make the escape from the eastern side of the city, the eighteen year-old finds himself bleeding out in the infamous no-man’s land section, (ominously referred to as the death strip). As his condition worsens, Peter becomes more all knowing about the prior events leading up to his present moment. Written by Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill, Peter Fechter: 59 Minutes is based on real world events and packs a lot of story in its race against the clock.

Mirroring the play’s large social setting, Peter (played by Peter Sarty) finds his home life equally tenuous and fragile. Residing with his strict, insular father (Andrew Chandler) the pair find themselves living in uneasy silence following the abrupt departure of Peter’s mother (Rena Kossatz). Whereas it’s abundantly clear that his father feels no need to explain the reasons for her leaving, Peter remains steadfastly loyal to the ghost of her memory.

28722230_10155948472630792_1224926751_n
Henricus Gielis, and Peter Sarty. Photo Credit: Samm Fisher

With the mystery of his mother’s absence haunting the hidden depths of his mind, the promise of a life filled with unrestricted freedom (and American porno) presents itself in the not-so distant and nearly-tangible mirage-esque entity of West Berlin. At the heart of the play’s push is Peter’s friend Helmut (Henricus Gielis). Confident to the near point of impulsiveness, Helmut is the catalyst prodding Peter into helping him orchestrate a major life-changing escape for them.

Director Alison Crosby has crafted a solid rendition of Tannahill’s original work. Finely acted, the supporting cast of Chandler, Kossatz, and Gielis revolve around Sarty’s fantastic performance. With Sarty’s sincere likability and an endearing sense of allegiance, you feel Peter’s hope as he reaches out into the dark hoping someone’s there to reach back. Equally taut as it is touching, 59 Minutes succeeds in pulling off a series of reveals while somehow finding humanity and something worth fighting for in an otherwise bleak and unfair time.

28535864_10155948472600792_1062361898_n.jpg
(Left-Right) Andrew Chandler, Henricus Gielis, Rena Kossatz, Peter Sarty. Photo Credit: Samm Fisher

Bone Cage

Ten years have passed since the original publication of Catherine Banks’ Governor-General winning drama, Bone Cage. In recognizing this decade-old milestone, Matchstick Theatre, has undertaken the task of bringing Banks’ complicated work to the stage. Under the direction of Jake Planinc, Bone Cage succeeds as a pensive, ambitious affair, replete with both hits and misses. 

22361104_10159427696950026_145324818_n
Taylor Olson

Set in the rural Nova Scotian countryside where forestry is king, Banks’ opening moment is one of stark, clear-cut decimation. At the heart of this damage is Jamie (Taylor Olson), a wood-processor for a lumber factory, who, after his work is done, sits and muses on the carnage perpetrated by him and his clear-cutting woodsmen. For Jamie, work and death is synonymous, cyclic, inevitable trap; seasonal work begets a life of inescapable dependency. Jamie is torn with his position in life; while he despises the duplicitous, unreliable nature of his occupation, Jamie alternatively cannot summon the courage to start a new chapter outside the only community he has ever known.

22360948_10159427696640026_1207744373_n
Jessy Matthews, Katie Dorian (left to right)

As we quickly and vividly learn, Bone Cage’s supporting cast are the root of Jamie’s situation. Every relationship and interaction spiderwebs and collides with each other, miring him further into an uncertain future. Jamie’s emotional obligations come out in stressful spades. There’s his strained relationship with his half-sister Chicky (Jessy Matthews), the fear he harbours towards providing for his starry-eyed, young future-bride Krista (Katie Dorian), violent encounters involving his best friend Kevin (Sam Vigneault), and dealing with a drunken husk of his father Clarence (Sébastien Poissant Labelle), who is unable to overcome the death of his favourite son. 

While an entertaining venture, Bone Cage’s biggest flaw is director Jake Planinc’s establishment of the play’s themes of subtlety and bare-bone anguish as cornerstones for his play’s actors to draw their inspiration. The result is an imbalance that Bone Cage continuously finds itself fighting against. Characters exist in emotional flux, jumping from 0-10 between moments of poignant introspection to full out profane screaming matches. Whereas some actors handle these emotions more capably than others, the end result is a sacrifice of a deeper emotional range that would have given the show further dimension.  Yet, for the few moments of wooden delivery and issues getting their characters clicking into their rightful place, the team behind Bone Cage captures fantastic moments of grim poetry, cathartic discovery, and compelling grief that does honest justice to Catharine Banks’ beloved work.

 

 

 

Symphony In Space With Chris Hadfield

February 20, 2017

EAchrishadfield1-1022x576.jpg

The moment Chris Hadfield took to the stage of the Rebecca Cohn Theatre, the room filled with applause. After reading up on the decorated Colonel’s past achievements, it is not hard to see why the man is held in such high esteem. One of the first Canadian space shuttle crew members for NASA, Hadfield has gone on to work with iconic space projects such as Canadarm, Mir, and the International Space Station. He has been on three separate space expeditions, orbited Earth 2600 times, and has published three books just for good measure, making him a household name for Canadians.

Click below to read full article at Halifax Bloggers:

Symphony In Space