[Ken is an Ottawa-based freelance actor/director with 35 years experience and offers his theatre reviews as an unbiased professional appraisal. www.kengodmere.com]
* Opening Night, Thursday May 26, 2011 *
In 2007, Daniel MacIvor, actor and playwright (The Soldier Dreams, Cul-de-Sac, House, and Monster) announced that he “would no longer be doing solo shows”. Two years later when his life imploded, the award-winning playwright approached collaborator Daniel Brooks to do “one more”. With Brooks’ condition that the stories in this one be true, MacIvor set himself to question truth and real characters in his exploration of true feelings and fears and joys. The result – This is What Happens Next – is layered, complex, and at times, obscure.
In his most autobiographical piece to date, MacIvor began by discussing at length, his arrival, what he’s going to be talking about, and why he’s telling us a story — a story about people telling stories. Is it theatre? Is it meta-theatre? It felt more like “MacIvor in concert”. A CBC Comics Special. It was definitely an interesting look at the life and into the mind of the writer. But I suppose I arrived at the restaurant expecting a meal. What I got was a description of the chef, the menu and the complex preparations, a few juicy samples and then a glass of port to wrap things up. The set and lighting were also in the style of those character-based standup routines of, say, Cathy Jones or Sandra Shamas. Sharp and quick, but static and spotlight-y. Co-creator and dramaturg, Daniel Brooks also directed the piece and he kept things brisk. But with MacIvor’s own mile-a-minute rants and the recurring self-commentary breaks, that briskness made it difficult for us to get right in and stay onboard. Even the ending (that “glass of port”) was an odd fit of instant theatricality and sentimentality in their world of bare bluster.
On stage this evening, MacIvor’s writing was stronger than his performance. The writer’s sense of the human script (what characters say, what they don’t say, and what they change in the middle of saying) was absolutely brilliant. While the actor’s fluid comfort, consistent connection and confidence only landed near pretty good. I do understand firsthand how it can be most difficult in that kind of autobiographical exposure. Where all the elements did align and light up the night was during the fully-felt character monologues of the female lawyer and the drunken ex-husband. Daniel MacIvor hit deep and high and broad.
I don’t know if it was the project, the script or the performance that had me feeling as though we walked through some very long hallways with lots and lots of doors. And only a few were opened.
MY ASSESSMENT: | Brilliant | Clear | Murky | Flawed | – a tricky locket.
This is What Happens Next runs through June 12, 2011.
A Necessary Angel Production
Created by Daniel MacIvor and Daniel Brooks
Written and Performed by Daniel MacIvor
Directed and Dramaturged by Daniel Brooks
At the Great Canadian Theatre Company
Tickets available at the GCTC Box Office
This production is also part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival
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Prolific Canadian performers Daniel MacIvor and Daniel Brooks have returned to the Canadian theatre scene with their first co-creation in five years, This Is What Happens Next. This solo performance piece — written and performed by MacIvor, directed and dramaturged by Brooks, and a production of Toronto’s Necessary Angel theatre — will be playing at the Great Canadian Theatre Company as part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. Ottawa Tonite got the chance to chat with the artists about the partnership, the performance, and the motivation for the production.
This Is What Happens Next opens on Thursday, May 26 and runs until June 12 at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, 1233 Wellington St. West. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.gctc.ca. For more information about the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, visit www.magneticnorthfestival.ca.
Video courtesy Kevin Burton