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REVIEWS ROUND-UP

The 6th undercurrents festival opened with two sold-out performances. undercurrents runs until February 20th.

The reviews are coming in. This round-up was last updated Friday, February 19 at 1:00pm.

See excerpts below and follow the links provided to the original text.


GETTING TO ROOM TEMPERATURE

Getting to Room Temperature Photo: Jacqui Jensen-Roy

Written & directed by Arthur Milner
Performed by Robert Bockstael

This world premiere sold out on opening night. Closing night (February 20th) may sell out in advance. Two more performances, February 13th and 19th, are more than half sold already.

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Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen: “The provocative one-man show… targets our sense of right and wrong. Milner, through the accessible voice of Bockstael, wraps his questions in warm anecdotes about his family, sprinkles the show with humour, and lovingly depicts his vital, opinionated mother.”

Wes Babcock, New Ottawa Critics: Bockstael controlled the mood of the audience throughout the performance with aplomb, drawing us through humour into the serious emotional business of death and back out the other side.” 

Jennifer Cavanagh, Apartment 613: “The weighty material flows through Robert Bockstael’s seemingly effortless delivery weaving a believable humor with poignant remembrances and effective arguments.”


MOUTHPIECE

Mouthpiece Photo: Brooke Wedlock

Created by Amy Nostbakken & Norah Sadava

Award-winning Mouthpiece gave its Ottawa premiere on Wednesday night and has roused what seems to be the loudest response from critics and audiences alike.

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Ian Huffam, New Ottawa Critics: “Mouthpiece a masterpiece… impeccable… one of the strongest performances I’ve seen in Ottawa.”

Jared Davidson, Apartment 613“The writing is energetic… it makes for what is clearly an extremely demanding play to perform. The degree to which they are deliberate in their motions and tone draws attention to the excellent directing and the enormous talent of these two performers… It is performed absolutely beautifully… Mouthpiece is not to be missed.” 

Curtis Perry, Espace Musique“What Nostbakken and Sadava have created and performed is a sophisticated, nuanced, complex portrait of the woman’s voice… Kept me rapt and engaged… Near the end, one particular segment of physical theatre left me deeply affected. I can’t spoil it… Mouthpiece is the kind of theatre that differentiates art from entertainment with shocking clarity.”

Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen: “…by turns wrenchingly beautiful and painful… The show is funny, shrewd, constantly evolving… Remarkable sound design… This show says important things.”

Brendan McNally, Ottawa Tonite:  “…a pulsing, energetic and physical piece of theatre that is thoroughly absorbing and entertaining…”

Wes Babcock, New Ottawa Critics: “Mouthpiece is a wonderful embodiment of the contradictory multitude of voices that speak through our society and inside our own heads; it makes for a transcendent experience that hits you straight in the guts on every level of meaning.”

Joseph Hutt, On Stage Ottawa: “Mouthpiece was the highlight of undercurrents… Impeccable timing and physicality… Incredible synchronicity… If you don’t see anything else, see this!”


LISTEN TO ME

Listen to Me Photo: Brie McFarlane

Created by Stephanie Henderson
Directed by Stephanie Henderson & Catherine Ballachey

There are only eight tickets available per performance of this interactive 30 minute show. We like to think it would be selling out, anyways! Wednesday and Thursday night performances both sold out.

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Wes Babcock, New Ottawa Critics: “Listen to Me is an odd show… By its very nature, no two people will have the same experience… But this show is not improv… It’s hard to know which parts of my interactions with near-total strangers were real, and which were planned.”

Ian Huffam, New Ottawa Critics: “…the spectator must become an active participant rather than sit back and let the performer’s art wash over them. A daunting definition, but the interactive Listen to Me cleverly uses an entirely different paradigm of performance—speed dating—in order to give a tight framework in which participants/performers still have great freedom. Or do they?”

Joseph Hutt, On Stage Ottawa: “Listen to Me… is one of the more unique and personally interactive performances of the festival, so if you’re eager to buy one of the eight available tickets per performance, just be sure that you’re comfortable with some one-on-one face time with the participating actors.”

Diane Lachappelle, Apartment 613: “The challenge in reviewing such a play is that it is so personal… so in a way, you’re kind of reviewing yourself. Frankly, I bombed…. It was an interesting exercise and overall, I enjoyed it… This night may have been a little skewed as I would have gone out with any of the adorable, articulate, freshly scrubbed actors, which I doubt happens at real speed dating.”


Monstrous, or,
The Miscegenation Advantage

Monstrous Photo: Chris Snow

Written & performed by Sarah Waisvisz
Directed by Eleanor Crowder

The second world premiere of undercurrents’ opening weekend. Monstrous is a show we’ve been waiting for an so curious about since Sarah Waisvisz gave a reading of the script-in-progress at the 2015 undercurrents festival.

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Wes Babcock, New Ottawa Critics: “This show is all foray… while its politics can’t be faulted, disputed, or dismissed…”

Jennifer Cavanagh, Apartment 613: Waisvisz dynamic energy… Waivisz’s multilingual talents and her choice of French-language music serve this production well emphasizing the international scope… gives an authenticity to this self-reflective production… remarkable silhouetted shadow-play on evocative projections…” 

Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen:  “All this is a far cry from her very good show about the long reach of transnational hatred ILoveOrangeAndHateThePort which was part of 2014’s Extremely Short New Play Festival. This time out, she’s simply too conscious of herself…”

Joseph Hutt, On Stage Ottawa: “I love this style, with its emphasis on the craft of storytelling… it reminded me a lot of a 2015 Ottawa Fringe Festival show, I Think My Boyfriend Should Have an Accent… After the fact, it didn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that Waisvisz’s dramaturg was Emily Pearlman, the creator of that memorable Fringe performance.”

Ian Huffam, New Ottawa Critics: “This show raises issues instead of questions and because of this it becomes impossible to provide answers… What is clear is how personal the project is to creator/playwright Sarah Waisvisz.”

Kat Fournier, Capital Critics’ Circle: “Social provocation… Given the subject matter, if the play disorients its audience, it is arguably intentional… In fact, Waisvisz goes so far as to point the lens back at the audience, anticipating their apathy to her story. It’s a call to action; Monstrous urges its audience to recognize this apathy as a remnant of a colonial history.”


Forstner & FIllister

Forstner & Fillister Photo: Barbara Havrot

Created & performed by Will Somers & David Benedict Brown
Directed by Melanie Karin Brown

Comedy duo Forstner & Fillister blew the dust off their 2014 Fresh Meat: DIY Theatre Fest runaway hit, Forstner & Fillister Present: Forstner & Fillister In: Forstner & Fillister.

The undercurrents reviews say this show has only gotten better.

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Jared Davidson, Apartment 613: “The title of this play is Forstner and Fillister Present: Forstner and Fillister in: Forstner and Fillister. If that makes you laugh, you will like this play. If the use of punctuation concerns you, you’ll probably still like this play. This is a play that it’s hard not to like… It’s a joy to watch.”

Joseph Hutt, On Stage Ottawa: “Just try and keep a straight face… [they will] have anyone laughing by the end of it.”


Moonlodge


Moonlodge Photo courtesy of National Arts Centre English Theatre

Created by Margo Kane
Performed by Paula-Jean Prudat
Directed by Corey Payette

Performance at the NAC 4th Stage

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Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen: Prudat gives us a rich, captivating Agnes. Armed with only a suitcase, a drum, and serious acting chops… Prudat infuses Kane’s mix of storytelling, dance and ritual with her own brand of verve.”

Barbara Popel, Apartment 613: “Although a work-in-progress, there is much to recommend Moonlodge… looks promising.”


PARTICLE

Particle Photo: Stéphanie Godin

Created by Kristina Watt & Martha Ross
Performed by Kristina Watt
Directed by Martha Ross

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Wes Babcock, New Ottawa Critics: “Kristina Watt was captivating… If you can embrace confusion as a device by which you can explore your own understanding of theatre… you won’t be disappointed.” 

Brian Carroll, Apartment 613: “Particle has a pedigree… The audience certainly found many reasons to laugh: academic malapropisms, silly disguises, stilted movements, out-of-sync multimedia. But the darker side of the show didn’t always connect with the audience.”

Kat Fournier, Capital Critics’ Circle: “…cleverly conceptualized, metatheatrical production… There’s a complex balance between what’s real and what’s not that Particle manages to capture, a credit to director Martha Ross.”

Ian Huffam, New Ottawa Critics: “Every now and then, I see a show that completely baffles me… Interesting and intense in its theatricality…”


A MAN WALKS INTO A BAR

Written by Rachel Blair
Performed by Rachel Blair & Blue Bigwood-Mallin
Directed by David Matheson

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A Man Walks Into A Bar Photo: Tanja Tiziana

Wes Babcock, New Ottawa Critics: “Excellent… The performers are solid… Really poignant… A powerful meta-drama… the show embodies an excellent examination of the cultural discourse of our moment, and is one of the best at undercurrents.”

Diane Lachapelle, Apartment 613: “Strong writing and outstanding performances… My reaction was visceral and it was apparent that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.”

Joseph Hutt, On Stage Ottawa: “Wonderful performances from both actors… This deservedly ranks quite high in my to-watch rating, both for how well the actors embrace their roles and for the ideas being brought forth.”

Kat Fournier, Capital Critics’ Circle: A Man Walks Into A Bar does a lot of things right… Wields humour like a weapon… Palpable chemistry on stage. A worthwhile trip to the theatre for this affecting production.”

Brendan McNally, Ottawa Tonite: “A brilliant and poignant piece of theatre…”

Maja Stefanovska, Capital Critics’ Circle: “Well-written, funny, and well-performed… Blair has great comedic timing and her delivery is spot on and her acting range is impressive… This is a must-see production…”


MACBETH MUET

Macbeth Muet Photo: La Fille du Laitier

Created by Jon Lachlan-Stewart & Marie Hélène Bélanger
Performed by Jeremy Francoeur & Clara Prévost
Production Design by

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Joseph Hutt, On Stage Ottawa: “Without using a single word from the original script, the silent actors… present a visceral re-imagining of Macbeth… Inventive prop active… You may also want to be aware that there is a splash zone in this performance. With the amount of fake blood and broken eggs involved in this performance—and trust me when I say it’s more than you’re probably expecting… I highly recommend…”

Brian Carroll, Apartment 613: “This is the silliest production of Macbeth I’ve ever seen. And it is well-crafted silliness.”