by Irena Wandschneider
Theatre & Company
- "Einstein’s Gift" by Vern Thiessen -
It is being played downtown Kitchener – as we speak, right
now, April 10 to 26 at 7:30 nightly – and although I have not seen it I
would expect it to be as good as any other production of Theatre & Company.
And I am not paid or bribed to say so: I have seen three
plays staged at the current premises by the current producers’ team, "Lettice
and Lovage", " An Ideal Husband" and very recently " Crossing Delancey".
Each play was very different, nothing repetitive, nothing borrowed, each
time actors actually offering their craft of high quality and the director
doing his job with appreciation for the period and characters. Each time the
décor, background music, costumes, props are carefully selected and
consciously used. The actors utilize speech patterns and individual accents
to enrich the characters, small details of stage design creating the world
the audience is being transported to, whether it is some country manor
presented to tourists, premises of the dilapidated rooming house, a drawing
room in a stylish English country house, apartment in New York City or a
bookstore – all of the above prepared with care and attention to details,
researched and reconstructed for our benefit.
I am impressed with the professionalism and care given to
the productions of the Theatre & Company. Each and every show I have been to
was exceptional. "Einstein’s Gift" is written by a Canadian playwright and
was staged for the first time in Edmonton. This is the Ontario premier.
It is Albert Einstein’s account of his fellow scientist,
Nobel Laureate and friend Fritz Haber, who - seeing his humanitarian
research being used in the war - begins to recognize consequences and
implications of his actions. There are some worthy quotations such as "I was
under the impression we were using science to help people" and "You cannot
simultaneously prevent and prepare for war, it defies all possible logic."
It seems to be particularly relevant in what we are experiencing today on
the international scene.
Tickets are $19 - $29, rush seats for students and seniors
$10. You can get tickets on line at
http://www.theatreandcompany.org/ or calling box office 519-571-0928.
There is also information on the next season 2003-2004 available. It is
worth to keep track of what is being presented in downtown Kitchener.
Stratford Festival – Summer of 2003
Stratford is only a short drive from the Kitchener/Waterloo
area and from Toronto less than a 2 hours drive. It is possible to go either
for an evening performance or, so much better, make it a weekend outing.
There is quite a variety of accommodation available in the area, also a
number of good restaurants, in Stratford itself or in the vicinity, such as
in New Hamburg. And this summer program is really special.
There is the usual program of Shakespeare and classics, less
heavy this year and offering "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Love’s Labour
Lost". Aside of that there is a very interesting combination of plays
somehow linked together "Anthony and Cleopatra", "Pericles" "Troilus and
Cressida", then "Agamemnon" by Aeschylus and "Electra" by Giradoux. Quite a
selection of ancient Greek and Roman history as presented by Sir William,
complemented by Aeschylus and the modern French approach of Giraudoux. Old
family feuds, old sins with long shadows presented by one of the best
repertory theatres in North America. After seeing "Elizabeth Rex" and "
Medea" in recent seasons, there will again be something special to be seen
and enjoyed in those plays of antiquity.
Then there are several more recent plays – challenging in
many ways, out of the ordinary. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", for one, Noel
Coward’s "Present Laughter" featuring Brian Bedford (are we lucky to have
him!) and two (I repeat T-W-O) plays by Sartre "No Exit" and "The Flies". I
have reviewed "No Exit" staged by Waterloo Little Theatre in the winter of
2002. It is a complex play, by now a classic of existentialism and difficult
to present. "The Flies" is in a way a modern play written during the Nazi
occupation of France telling the ancient story of Orestes homecoming. Again
a connection with several plays based on motifs from Antiquity.
To provide the audience with entertainment – just pure joy
and laughter – there are "The King and I" and "Gigi". Both musicals have
great catching melodies and eternal charm – for those who have seen the
movies and for those who have not. Suitable for any age and for those with
less exposure to classic theatre, for all to enjoy before or after a
leisurely meal and walk along the lake.
For more information on performance schedules and tickets
or call 1-800-567-1600
Shaw Festival – Niagara-on-the-Lake
There are two of Shaw’s plays this summer at the Festival,
"Misalliance" and "Widower’ House". The first one has been staged before and
is a frequent occurrence to the summer theatres, not too strenuous, the
second one more challenging and less performed. It is one of Shaw’s satires
on society, disclosure of its dirty back-stage sources of livelihood,
questioning the comfortable order of the universe. From the same era "Three
Sisters" by Chekhov , "Diana of Dobson’s" by Cicely Hamilton and a bit later
"Happy End" by Bertold Brecht with music by Kurt Weill. Last year "The Three
penny Opera" was done at the Stratford Festival and much enjoyed by the
audience. There are some connecting motifs at Niagara-on-the-Lake as well –
"Afterplay", a very recent creation by Brian Friel is exploring "what if?"
alternative outcomes of "Three Sisters" and "Uncle Vanya". It is to be a
small jewel in one-act lunchtime performances for a price of a lunch itself.
Possibly as a gesture to Queen’s Elizabeth’s half a century
anniversary, there are two plays referring to British monarchy "The
Coronation Voyage" by Michel Marc Bouchard in 1995 and "The Royal Family" by
George Kaufman and Edna Faber, written in 1927. The first one takes place on
the deck of Empress of France, an ocean liner making the trip
from Montreal to London for the coronation of Elizabeth II. The second is a
Broadway crazy play celebrating a family madness and comic bedlam.
Again, we are offered a good mix of delightful comedies,
thoughtful plays, and an opportunity to spend an evening or a weekend in a
not-too-distant Niagara-on-the-Lake. No need to mention gourmet food, lovely
B&B’s or hotels and the proximity to Niagara Falls.
For more information, dates, schedules, and tickets please
see www.shawfest.com or call
Looking forward to finally warm days, after a long and heavy
winter, I remain yours truly