June 18, 2015

This article appeared in the June 18 2015 edition of Mobtréal.com

IN SEARCH OF MRS. PIRANDELLO

Author/Actor MICHAELA DI CESARE has done a PH.D worthy job of discovering fragments of paper in dusty Italian archives to devise a dramatic answer to her puzzlement that the very existence of a wife to Nobel playwright Luigi Pirandello was evidenced only by a lone footnote. To this end, she has assembled four other fine local actors to join her role as the Searcher (and sometimes the wife). NADIA VERRUCCI plays the wife, Antonietta Portulano and DAVIDE CHIAZZESE, whose ancestors emigrated to Canada from the same town as Luigi, the man himself. MIKE PAYETTE and CHIP CUIPKA interpret six minor roles each, lending their considerable talents as relatives, nuns and officials. Mike, though bearded, is convincing as a dancing nun. Thus, though they be but five they act as a multitude. Seventeen Characters in Search of an Author’s Wife (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist that).

Deftly directed by Christina Cugliandro, this 60 minute show has potential for a successful full scale production

Continues at the Rialto Studio on June 18,19 and 20

A NIGHTMARE FOR OBERON

William SHAKESPEARE, of whose private life is almost as unknown as that of Mrs Pirandello, wrote 37 plays (maybe 40), which included a number of memorable women.

Budding Playwright JULIE FOSTER, a student at Concordia, has chosen three of the most famous to meet at a beautiful flower strewn riverside in a forest glen. The forest is ruled by Oberon, king of the fairies (a different connotation in the 16th century), but effectively managed by Titania, his Queen (MIRIAM CUMMINGS) in full Midsummer’s Night Dream mode. She encounters Ophelia, (SAMANTHA MAGARRY) fresh flown from mad Hamlet as both are visited by mad Lady MacBeth (NADIA VERRUCCI). Ophelia’s naivety contrasts with the world weariness of the two queens as they discuss the world and the failures of their respective men. The conversations are laced, but not intrusively so, with phrases from their respective plays. Ophelia even introduces a Wizard of OZ amazement that she isn’t in Denmark anymore… perhaps in Heaven? You most definitely do not have to be a Shakespearean scholar to enjoy this rich and oft funny dish.

Continues at Rialto Piccolo on June 18,19 and 20

BAR KAPRA the SQUIRREL HUNTER

This neo-Brechtian fable is acted by three of our most popular locals. HOWARD ROSENSTEIN is the shooter of the title and FRANCE ROLLAND is Bat Kapra, who gathers his squirrel kill. JOHANNA NUTTER is Trout, a touchy-feely forest dweller who gets drawn into the Kapra’s disagreements and revenge plans. Terrific acting as might be expected and the squirrels are puppets, no live animals injured in this show. With direction by Alison Darcy, it is well worth seeing despite a sometimes silly script by Joseph Shragge. Although names are not crucial, still… What’s with the Bar and the Bat? Is this an allusion to Mitzvah ceremonies? Or to Bar Kokhba, “son of the star”, who revolted against Rome rule in 35 C.E.? And why name the key character after a fish? Again, not major concerns, but disconcerting.

Continues at La Chapelle on June 18,19

JAMES & JAMESY IN THE DARK

This is the third visit of the acclaimed British duo to Montreal, where their mélange of witty dialogue, mime and surrealistic imagination has won them a local following. James is the taller one, Jamesy the shorter. They bring two shows this year, one, HIGH TEA is very similar to their 2 FOR TEA of 2013, wherein they flood the world with tea. dragooning audience members as sharks, sea captains and even the Queen of England. IN THE DARK has many of these elements, but is best described in their own handouts as “Pixar meets Waiting For Godot in a daring, hilarious…comedy about creation.” To that I might add a little bit of Mr. Bean.

Continues at La Chappele on June 18,19,20 and 21; High Tea on the same days.

Hopegrown Productions — 2015 — Nightmare for Oberon