Culture & Conversation

The power of presence

This is a well-directed well-acted and beautifully written play. The performance is extraordinary. Sehar Bhojani portrays the lives of three women each of a different generation of Hindu women in a single family. Her ability to evoke tears and laughter is the mark of a fine actor with great skill. Lib Spry directed this with terrific sensitivity and insight. She managed to present the more horrific scenes without the prurience of violence and was nonetheless able to evoke the horrors of war and death brilliantly. Spry was able to work the enormous number of transitions in a smooth and effortless manner.

Caught in the undertow

Lisa Moore returns with a novel that makes good on the accolades she received for February, her 2009 title. Caught opens with a prisoner on the run, David Slaney, a would-be smuggler who escapes from prison on the eve of his 25th birthday. Slaney had been four years into a sentence for spearheading one of the biggest pot-smuggling cases in Canadian history, but now that he’s out, he and his buddy Hearn plan to do it all over again. This time, they won’t get caught.

Haute voltige

En général, un spectacle de cirque met l’accent sur les acrobaties et les prouesses artistiques plutôt que sur l’histoire. Bien sûr, il y a une histoire, mais elle est souvent vite oubliée ou alors ses fils conducteurs se détachent pour ne plus se rattacher. Ce n’est pas le cas du Murmure du Coquelicot, la nouvelle coproduction du Théâtre du Nouveau Monde et de la troupe Les 7 doigts de la main.

Pop MTL 2013

What’s poppin’ at Pop Montreal

It’s easy to get overwhelmed around Pop Montreal time, as “checking out” who is playing is always a massive feat. Yet I took it on this year – for you, dear readers – sifting through the innumerable names to get a little listing together.

Ce que femme veut

Le concept de « pièce à l’intérieure d’une pièce » peut être maladroit entre les mains d’un dramaturge peu expérimenté. Mais lorsque les transitions se font organiquement et que les lignes se brouillent, comme c’est le cas pour La Vénus au vison, de David Ives, les spectateurs s’investissent dans la pièce — dans les deux pièces — et les résultats sont spectaculaires.

An enchanted evening – almost

To mark 50 years to the day that Place des Arts opened, Opéra de Montréal presented a crowd-pleaser, the melodic, exotic and – by opera standards – short Lakmé. No less then Pauline Marois was in attendance (and was that Justin Trudeau I fleetingly glimpsed in the premium seats?). Before the curtain rose to reveal the set-and-costume designer’s stunning eye-candy, a speech was presented by cast member Florie Valiquette, dressed in extravagant late-Victorian finery. So the scene was set for something remarkable, but while the performances were often very pleasing, the evening never really fired vocally.

Worth the journey

For their intricate designs, Afghani rugs are considered among the most distinctive of oriental carpets. Often, they are as red as the poppies that have fuelled both the country’s economy and the rivers of blood in its history. Whatever the pattern, rugs from Afghanistan are prized for their weave. And that is also true of the novels by Khaled Hosseini, the bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. He’s a master weaver of tales.

Blokes du pays

“Those who ignores the lessons of the pasta are doomed to repeat it.” This Saturday, satirical musical duo Bowser and Blue celebrate three-and-a-half decades of laughing at life in la belle province. Featuring special guest David Pryde, their Anniversary Special Concert this Saturday, September 21 at Théâtre Symposia will revisit highlights from their long career. They’ll also present a host of new songs, many of whose focus is Quebec’s new climate. Will there be a song about the charter this Saturday? What, ya think?

Bill why oh why

Last Tuesday at the deep end of the Bain St. Michel (Infinitheatre) pool, celebrated poets Carolyn Marie Souaid and Endre Farkas hosted an evening celebrating Quebec English-language poets with the launch of their combined editing efforts, Language Matters: Interviews with 22 Quebec Poets. About 60 people attended the launch, including many of the poets who were interviewed for the book.

Stuck in the attic

The phrase “the woman upstairs” is Nora Eldridge’s personal shorthand for a sort of forgotten woman, the well-behaved spinster who suppresses her rage at everything she has been denied or has lost, through her own timidity or others’ low expectations of her. It seems a bit of an old-fashioned stereotype; the woman upstairs is stuck mopping the kitchen floor, never mind worrying about the glass ceiling.

Bubby is funny

Veteran Just for Laughs comics Mike Ward and Deanne Smith travel to the depths of Cote-St-Luc to sit down for an intimate “Evening” with my Bubby Sophie. She jokes, she sings, she tries to force feed them a variety of different foods. Learn why kosher chickens are better than non-kosher chickens.

A space odyssey

For the past four years, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to teach a horror film class at Concordia University. Aside from being a geek dream come true, it has allowed me to introduce inquiring minds to a range of brilliant scary movies. I have always punctuated the class with Alien (1979). It amazes me how that film has aged so beautifully. The effects (pre-CGI, it must be noted) remain entirely effective, and its commentary about the fusion of corporate and military interests has become horrifically prophetic. It’s a joy to watch it on the big screen, an opportunity the course provides.