Drawn from period letters, trial transcripts and the writings of Victorian England's greatest wit, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde is a docudrama skilfully assembled by Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project).
Staged and Confused's production, directed by Michael Murphy, is neutral in style rather than a period piece: having the actors in street clothes allows us to focus on the text.
On the surface, the series of trials deals with Victorian society's view of homosexuality as the most heinous of acts. But also up for debate is Wilde's idea that art stands powerfully on its own and shouldn't be linked to ideas about morality.
There's no need for the theatre-school exercises at the start and the occasional intrusive song, but this production has some fine moments, with strong work by Martin Chodorek as the Marquess of Queensberry and two of the prosecutors, Tom Tranmer as an emotional Lord Alfred Douglas and Megan Deeks as another prosecutor. Wilde's speeches are more nuanced than Scott Clarkson delivers, but he does bring dignity to the role, especially in the second act.
The Hank Marvin Theatre Company came up with a winner in its premiere production, I Will Not Hatch! Set on a plane that touches down for a number of personal dramas, the sharp little show (if you can call a 10-person production little) had a brief run last week and suggests good things to come from writer/director Maya Rabinovitch.
A look at social fears and how we deal with them, it was darkly, sometimes bizarrely, comic. As the audience entered the theatre, we found the 10 apprehensive characters standing in a child's wading pool. As the show developed, we discovered their various neuroses, ranging from sexual guilt to monsters in the closet, and from 9/11-style terrorists to homophobia.
Using text, music and movement, often to surprising effect, the balanced ensemble provided a good share of laughs and a couple of shivers.
You're in for a different kind of dinner theatre with The Order Of Good Cheer, the latest from Shadowland Theatre. Co-written with Alanis King, the walkabout production on Ward's Island celebrates the 1606 meal shared by the Mi'kmaqs and French settlers in the Annapolis Valley. That event began a friendship between native and European cultures that unfortunately didn't continue.
The audience is always central in a Shadowlands show, and here we're greeted by the French rulers as we arrive by ferry. We later meet Mi'kmaq leader Membertou, his wise grandmother Nukumi and comical cartographer and explorer Samuel de Champlain.
Viewers and cast actually share bread after "paddling" in birchbark canoes and watching the arrival of dishes at a sumptuous feast and a shadow-puppet presentation. Things turn less pleasant as we follow, in a walk that takes us from 1606 to 2006, the degenerating relationship between the two peoples.
Always visually striking (though more illumination later in the evening would help), the show features Brandon Oakes and Lorraine Pelletier as Membertou and Nukumi, Bruno Gaudette as Champlain and Clea Minaker and Noah Kenneally in several well-crafted roles.