tag team chekhov
What happens when you blend Chekhov's Shorts and Chekhov Longs? You get a theatrical payoff that's just right. Theatre Smith-Gilmour and Factory Theatre have brought back the award-winning pair of productions based on Chekhov's short fiction in rep and the shows prove as delightful on second or even third viewing. The actor/creators, adept at story theatre, use props such as bricks, suitcases and chairs, creating rich narratives and full-blooded figures. While everyone contributes to the works' success, standouts are Dean Gilmour's narrator and other figures, and Liisa Repo-Martell as a shy bride in Longs and a delightful dog in Shorts. The shows continue through Sunday (December 15). See listings for details.
The ghosts win in Benjamin Britten's chamber opera The Turn Of The Screw. At least they did in the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble's sold-out studio production, which ran last weekend at Harbourfront Centre. Based on the Henry James novella, the opera makes the two ghosts who haunt a governess's two young charges very real; the source ambiguously suggests they may exist only in her mind. As the supernatural figures, Peter Collins (his best work yet) and Elizabeth McDonald were the most easily understood and best defined characters in the piece. The English text sung by the other performers wasn't always intelligible, though Frédérique Vézina as the governess was dramatically focused under Christopher Newton's nuanced direction, which splendidly captured the work's eerie moments.
If you're a director with some experience, here's a chance to hone your skills to razor sharpness. During next April's World Stage Festival, Canadian Actors' Equity Association and Harbourfront sponsor a master class for directors. Confirmed teachers are the Shaw's former head, Christopher Newton, and Mike Alfreds, founder of England's Shared Experience. Past classes have drawn on the talents of Joseph Chaikin, Katie Mitchell, Deborah Warner and Peter Brook. While preference goes to Equity directors, there are slots for non-Equity participants as well. Deadline is December 31. For more information, call Patricia Joyce at 416-867-9165.