Reviewed by Andrew Snowdon
70 min / Storytelling / PG
Martin Dockery was a 35-year-old long-term temporary employee of the New York Stock Exchange when he decided to quit his job and leave Brooklyn to take a five-month journey across West Africa. His plan? Oh, you don’t know Martin Dockery. For a man who takes every random [...]
Reviewed by Andrew Snowdon
John Collins commands the stage in his role as Ben, the doctor who is heading up the assisted-suicide program. He delivers a heart-stopping monologue early on in the show that left the audience stunned. J.P Chartier and Thea Nikolic are captivating to watch as they fire lines back and forth with expert timing. They bring the struggling marriage of Allison and Patrick to the stage with passion and earnestness, and manage to breathe new life into the difficulties of getting close to another person. Top that off with some flashy audiovisual effects and a great musical score and you’ve got 2020 – a firecracker of a show that is not to be missed!
It’s the images that haunt me now. They sear. They burn. In stark colours: blood red, Fascist black, lab coat white, fur brown. They invade my dreams. Opening tableau: a man tied to a chair, his back to us, dried streaks of blood on his shirt sleeves.
When the mannequins come on stage, I feel the stage at last come alive. The pas de deux of the mannequins is romantic and sweet. Two dancers, Austin Fagan and Joanie Audet, enliven mannequins of opposite gender, animating their gestures with Ronnie Burkett grace. Dating. Popcorn at the movies. Cocktails at the bar. Return to apartment, together. It still brings a smile to my face. Olivia Citter’s pas de quatre with the three men of the company touched my heart with its beauty and passion. I don’t know how it advances the plot… and I don’t care. I close my eyes and I still savour it.
Don’t Make Me Zealous is an irreverent comedy that turns religious critique on its head. When the agnostic, Tom (Brennan Richardson) proposes marriage to his non-practicing Catholic girlfriend, Jackie (Emily Bradley) he had not realized that she would feel obliged to have their wedding in a church. When Jackie forces Tom to give in and meet the priest (David Rowan), how could she have known he would actually find God, and could anyone expect him to find the God he did?
A parody of both Shakespeare and hip-hop, Hip-hop Shakespeare Live Music Videos! is an upbeat, frolicking performance. Featuring only two performers, Melanie Karin and David Benedict Brown, the show soars through numerous hip-hop classics such as Jay Z’s 99 Problems and OutKast’s Mrs. Jackson (to name just a few) while taking the audience through eight Shakespeare hits. Othello, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, they’re all in the bag. Each play is re-created in a short skit which is performed in the style of a music video. There are stabbings, gun shots, silk-body dance moves, clenched fists to the sky and a couple wild splashes of sultry passion. With both actors playing all the characters, the “videos” are tight and deftly crafted. Especially surprising is the way that each song selection ties together the themes of Shakespeare with those of the tracks. It’s almost as if the dilemmas in the tunes mirror those in the plays.
So, I’d bet that about 75% of people didn’t read past the title of this play before they decided to go see it. Which is only natural, really. With a title like Alien Predator: The Musical, you know what you’re getting. And Alien Predator definitely delivers on its promises. The title conjures up images of one or more of the following: Arnold, Predator, guns, bombs, “get to the choppa!,” “you are one ugly so-and-so,” and so on. And all of those things are there, and boy, golly, are they there.
The script provides the entire cast opportunities to make lots of silly jokes while keeping straight faces, drawing out considerable laughter from the audience. There are more special effects and props which I won’t reveal, because they’re so much more fun seen for the first time. There’s a very capable two-piece band providing singing, piano and guitar.
The story is about a young woman, Grace, who wants to find meaning in her life by joining a secret cult. The cult exists, it appears, in an alternate universe where people speak nonsensically and which is entered via a portal in the pedestrian underpass at Rideau and Sussex.
The songs are the genuine article – songs about knitting and keeping the home fires burning for “the boys” fighting overseas during World War II. Knitting socks and mittens for the troops as an integral part of the war effort may sounds corny now, but it was part of the American culture back then. The only song I recognized was the exquisite “We’ll Meet Again”. Gall channels Vera Lynn very effectively; she brought a lump to my throat when she sang.