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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Overview: The 2010 Theatre Season

by Anna Fuerstenberg (Theatre Critic for Rover: Montreal Arts Uncovered)

I confess that I was away in Ecuador for two months and missed some terrific plays in the 2010 season. Yet even a cursory glance at some of the plays I did get to see and/or review warms the cockles of my weak heart.

I missed The Mid Life Crisis of Dionysus, and I can only hope that some day it will be re-mounted.

There was a great joy in seeing A Line In the Sand at the Segal Studio and Tableau d’Hote inspired me with their professionalism, the directing was really superb and the acting was extraordinary.

I liked Anderson’s Inkwell and my seven year old companion was enchanted.

Mission Drive seemed to need a few more drafts and a public reading or two.

Harvey was a yawn and a half and even R.H. Thompson whom I admire, was “texting” in this performance whose direction was uninspired.

I did catch The Comedy of Errors but it failed to captivate me; particularly disconcerting were actors concentrating too hard on their iambs to deliver great performances.

The Holy Mothers were disgustingly interesting, and The Madonna Painter was neither interesting nor clear in its intent. Beautifully directed and performed, it just had no point that I could make out other than that the costume designer did not like the very few female characters in the play. 

This Fall gave us the indomitable People Power, a popular theatre piece that really worked in connecting the generations in the Philippine community while arousing the spirits of its audience. I am hoping that Reefer Madness will be up again soon, because the tiny bit of it that I caught was fabulous.  

Medea left us breathless for more from Scapegoat Carnivale; and The Flood Thereafter demonstrated that allegory is alive and beautifully suited to the stage.

Gordon was a magnificent coup for SideMart Theatre Grocery; a flawless productioin by a beloved Canadian playwright.

Henry the Fifth was a marriage of Stomp and Stratford that gave Montreal the kind of Shakespeare for which it was thirsting.

For Arts Sake was a delightful romp through the visual arts, and my five and seven year old guests were delighted.

Possible Worlds was a worthwhile attempt at drama by Uncalled For, and saved by Liz Valdez, a truly gifted director.

Champs de Mars was terribly neglected and a truly intelligent and moving glimpse into the ever increasing cost of foreign wars to Canadians. The acting was magnificent and the direction crisp and intelligent. The tragic part of this production was that in November people had had enough of war and stayed away.

Dark Owl was given deft and professional direction and remarkable performances but again it was a risk to call something “dark” as the days grew depressingly short.

The View from the Bridge lacked  vision and Raisin in the Sun was directed with a heavy and not very practiced hand.

The message of this year has been that the independent small companies, while not providing a living wage for their participants are providing this city with a kind of theatrical Naissance.It has never been this good in the English theatre community, and this is amazing.

The small companies, from Porte Parole which continues to do docu-drama that can knock your socks off to The Other Theatre which managed to translate and transmogrify the Scottish play and brilliantly
rebirth it in Haiti, have given this city a rich and wonderful year.

With Don Quixote, the Centaur Theatre has proved that experimental epics using the magic of commedia can be mounted and loved by this city.

I feel privileged to be in this place at this time, and to be present at the birth of a truly fantastic theatre community.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the props for Dionysus: unfortunately, I can pretty much guarantee that it will never be remounted, for the same reason that almost nothing is remounted (or tours): money. We had a cast of 15, and even with our own space we couldn't break even.

    I (obviously) agree that it's the small and independent companies that are the driving forces of English theatre in Montreal -- my eternal question is, when are the institutions going to step up and give those companies the big spaces in the regular season? Centaur in particular could learn its own lesson from the WildSide: put it in the subscription season and subscribers will come.


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