Theater Critics: Calpurnia targets ‘awake’ culture; Lucy lights up the room

article content


By Audrey Dwyer

announcement 2

article content

An NAC English Theatre/Royal Manitoba Theater Center (Winnipeg)/Black Theater Workshop (Montreal) Co-production

Until May 7, Babs Asper Theater, National Center for the Arts

revised friday

I’ve never seen Calpurnia in its original form, but the reworking of the play now being staged at the National Arts Center is fantastic – it’s insightful, hilarious and completely on target as it explores issues of race, privilege and alliance that have become part of the discourse. public in recent years.

Written by Winnipeg playwright Audrey Dwyer and rewritten over the past two years with director/playwright Sarah Garton Stanley, it is a multi-layered play, starting with the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird and a main character, Julie (played by Emerjade Simms). , who is battling writer’s block while working on a screenplay written from the perspective of the Finch family’s maid, Calpurnia.

announcement 3

article content

The sprawling Rachel Forbes-designed set – with its mid-century modern dining set, elegant kitchen, and movable stage – makes a great approximation of the Forest Hills home where Julie and her brother, Mark (Kwaku Adu-Poku) grew up. . raised by her father, a retired judge (Ray Strachan), after his mother died. Her portrait is hanging on the wall.

In addition to Julie, Mark and her dad, the cast also includes Filipino housekeeper Presy (Rochelle Kives), her brother’s wife Christine (Ellie Ellwand), and an important dinner guest (Arne MacPherson) who turns out to be troublesome, especially at home. eyes of the “awake” members of the younger generation.

In the first act, the family dynamic is showcased in long-winded dialogue that moves a little fast at times, though everyone executes their lines with impressive skill and timing, plus an over-the-top physicality that not only helps define the characters, but also makes it excellent. I use the big stage, with more than a few laughs along the way.

announcement 4

article content

An important family dinner is the focus of the second act, and there’s one big surprise in store that I won’t spoil here. Suffice to say I didn’t expect it, but it’s hilarious, centered around a comedic performance by Simms and a heated debate over who’s oppressing whom.

All in all, it’s a highly recommended program, especially for anyone interested in a greater understanding of the concepts and language of diversity and inclusion and who doesn’t mind a self-deprecating laugh or two.

(Tickets and timetable:

Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld performs onstage in Me, Vivien Leigh and the Roller Rink.
Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld performs onstage in Me, Vivien Leigh and the Roller Rink. Photo by Ottawa Fringe Festival /Flyer

Me, Vivien Leigh and the Roller Rink

By Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld / Roller Queens Collective

Final show, Saturday, 21:00, festival of currents, Court of Arts

Rated Thursday

Another beautiful play I saw last week was a show by a woman from Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld which is part of Undercurrents, an emerging theater festival directed by the Ottawa Fringe.

announcement 5

article content

While people in Ottawa know Lucy as a TV presenter, here we see her creativity and personality shine through. Titled Me, Vivien Leigh and the Roller Rink, it’s a tale of Lucy’s childhood and coming of age in the early ’80s. One of three kids raised in Hamilton by a single mother, there was never much money for things like clothes and makeup, but young Lucy was determined to get out of Steeltown.

She shares her journey with wit and charm, making it seem easy to memorize over an hour of narrative, punctuating it with a lively physical presence, dancing, prancing and, at one point near the end, even wearing skates for a few laps around the corner. around the stage.

No less fun are the great impressions of his Dutch parents and other figures in his life, plus a soundtrack packed with ’80s nuggets from everyone from Teenage Head to Air Supply. Also well selected are the props she wears, not to mention the glorious vintage-style satin jackets that were all the rage in nightclubs at the time.

Despite a lot of emphasis on the message to find your way, it’s an illuminating look at the early years of a minor Ottawa celebrity, delivered with a candor that makes her universally relatable.

(Tickets and information at

announcement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We’ve turned on email notifications—you’ll now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there’s an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Leave a Comment