This week I did something that I don’t usually do.
I went to the theatre for pleasure.
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit facetious. I always go to the theatre for pleasure, but usually I’m also reviewing, so it’s not purely for pleasure. There is a distinct difference between going to the theatre as a regular paying audience member for entertainment and going with a secondary objective in mind. As much as I try to minimize that difference (I believe the kids call this “keeping it real”), it does exist.
What we went to see, and I am compelled to recommend, is l’Opéra de quat’sous. I keep promising myself and the world at large that I will get out to see more French theatre. It has, generally, an aesthetic flavour entirely different to most English-language theatre, and I happen to love it. Honestly, though, I have wanted to see Brecht’s Threepenny Opera so badly that I would have gone whatever language it was in. Then again, I’m happy that I was able to understand it. This is a new, contemporary Québec French translation and it’s entirely appropriate for the material. It seems closer to the spirit of the original than the Blitzstein English version, but that’s based on my very scant knowledge of basic German. In any case, despite clocking in at two hours and thirty minutes with no intermission, it’s a wonderful show. Did I buy a poster? Maybe. I also bought a copy of the chantier dramaturgique, which provides fascinating insight into the process behind the development of this production. I’m excited that director Brigitte Haentjens is succeed Wajdi Mouawad as AD of the NAC French Theatre, not least because she’s such a fan of Henrich Müller. Maybe we’ll get to see Médée-Matériau? A man can dream.
Speaking of shows I desperately want to see, Sock ‘n’ Buskin Theatre is opening their production of Company, directed by Dave Dawson, on March 15. As a bit of a Sondheim fanatic, I’m both looking forward to this and preparing to scrutinize it intensely. Word is, they’ve hit a bit of a snag, and are looking for a number of competent musicians on very short notice. I can only speculate as to the circumstances, but if you are an Ottawa (or Ottawa-convenient) musician, or you know one, you should get in touch with Sock ‘n’ Buskin pronto.
Dave Dawson is just about the busiest man in Ottawa theatre this month. Not only has his production company Black Sheep Theatre brought Bremner Duthie’s ’33 (a Kabarett) (reviewed here) to the Gladstone this month, but also three other productions as part of a “Black Box Set.” These late-night shows (with a curtain time of 10:00 pm), each about an hour long with ultra-short weekend runs, are frequently talked-about darlings of the Fringe circuit. We have Jayson McDonald’s Giant Invisible Robot and Paul Hutcheson’s Third Time Lucky to look forward to in coming weeks, but this weekend (that’s tonight and tomorrow only, folks) you can catch The Last Goddamned Performance Piece. Given the very real risk that my review will not go up before the show closes, and they could easily fit another hundred people in the theatre, I’m taking the time to recommend it. I saw a previous incarnation (and reviewed it) a couple of years ago; it’s improved since then and is right at home on the Gladstone stage. Also written by Jayson McDonald, it’s performed by Ben Meuser and Celine Filion. Go see it. (I still regret the fact that I never got to see either Nancy Kenny or Jodi Morden in the role Filion plays; but one can’t see everything, right?)
Also in attendance at The Last Goddamned Performance piece was 2011 Prix Rideau Award nominee Katie Bunting, which gave me the chance to congratulate her in person. Now I just have to get to everyone else. I’m still working on my detailed reaction and analysis of the nominations that were announced on Monday; I promise to speculate wildly on who might win, at least in the English categories.
Let’s hope it doesn’t get me uninvited from any parties.