White Rabbit Red Rabbit
(May 13, 2013) The Charlebois Post
Freedom and Manipulation – An Interactive Message in a Bottle (Jim Murchison)
(May 10, 2013) Capital Critics Circle
White Rabbit Red Rabbity by Nassim Soleimanpour. Where Is The Red Rabbit?? (Alvina Ruprecht)
(May 7, 2013) CBC Radio One – All in a Day
Company of Fools’ 18 actors and mystery script (Alan Neal interviews AL Connors & Catriona Leger)
(May 4, 2013) The Ottawa Citizen
Week Ahead, May 5 to 11
(May 2, 2013) The Ottawa Citizen
Best bets May 2-9: Theatre (Patrick Langston)
Torchlight Shakespeare Festival: The Merry Wives of Windsor
(April 26, 2013) The Millstone
Company of Fools presents a Torchlight Shakespeare Festival
The Ottawa Theatre Challenge
(April 4, 2013) Ottawa West EMC News
Gladstone Thespians Wins Theatre Challenge (Steph Willems)
(April 1, 2013) Ottawa Citizen
Caroline Phillips: And the Rubber Chicken goes to… (Caroline Phillips)
(March 31, 2013) 580 CFRA News Talk Radio
Gladstone Theatre wins Ottawa Theatre Challenge (Alison Sandor)
(March 26th, 2013) Ottawa Citizen
The Ottawa Theatre Challenge: companies will create and stage a play in 48 hours (Janik Shannon)
(March 21, 2013) Nepean/Barrhaven/Ottawa South EMC News
Fools hold annual theatre challenge (Michelle Nash)
(August 4th, 2012) Production Ottawa
Review: Henry V (Allan Mackey)
(July 31st, 2012) tiffanywlepack
Fools in the Park (Tiffany Lepack)
(July 27th, 2012) Ottawa Life Magazine
Shakespeare in Ottawa’s Great Outdoors (Julie Cormier-Doiron)
(July 16th, 2012) Dating a Montrealer
A Little Shakespeare, A Little Captain Hook
(July 6th, 2012) Ottawa Citizen
Frugal Fun (Karen Turner)
(July 4th, 2012) Ottawa Citizen
A little too much foolery (Patrick Langston)
(July 3rd, 2012) Capital Critics Corner
Henry V (Patrick Langston, Alvina Ruprecht)
(July 3rd, 2012) 2Bmag Online
The Fools in Henry V in Ottawa Parks (Jeremy Dias)
(July 2nd, 2012) Production Ottawa
A Company of Fools presents Henry V (Reena Belford)
(June 30th, 2012) Production Ottawa
Four Reasons You Can’t Spend Your Summer Indoors (Reena Belford)
(June 29th, 2012) Ottawa Citizen
Week Ahead for Canada Day Week
(June 21st, 2012) EMC Stittsville/Richmond
Henry V at Grove (John Curry)
(June 27th, 2012) Ottawa Citizen
Best Best June 28 – July 6 (Patrick Langston)
(June 28th, 2012) EMC Ottawa West
Fools to perform gender-bending version of Henry V (Michelle Nash)
A Midwinter’s Dream Tale
(Dec. 1, 2011) OTTAWA Citizen
Fun with Shakespeare: The Fools stumble into a hilarious winter wonderland- Patrick Langston
(Dec.1 2011) Ottawa Tonight
A Very Serious Conversation with Director AL Connors
(Dec. 4, 2011) Apartment 613
So much Theatre by Andrew Snowdon
(Dec. 7, 2011) Ottawa Magazine
Antony and Cleopatra
( July14, 2011) EMC News- Janice Thiessen
(July 5, 2011) OTTAWA Citizen- Patrick Langston
David and Cleopatra
(July 4, 2011) The WIG- by Dan Lalande
Theatre according to actor-writer-director-producer-translator-Fool David Whiteley
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
July 2-August 2, 2010
(June 29, 2010) The Examiner – Dan Lalande
(July 24, 2010) Your Ottawa Region- John Curry
Shakespeare under the pines
A Company of Fools presentation at Alexander Grove
(July 26, 2010) THE BIG BEAT -Peter Simpson
A Company of Fools have fun in city parks
Shakespeare’s Danish Play
Fools’ effort has its flaws but their Danish Play is good fun
By Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen, January 30, 2010
Are plays about dysfunctional actors in hopeless productions this season’s unstated theme at The Gladstone?
In September we had Noises Off, the British farce about a misfiring theatre company mired in an ever-worsening production. December saw the hilarious The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol, about a community theatre gang so inept that, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, it was a wonder they still knew how to breathe. Now, we have Shakespeare’s Danish Play, a reasonably successful show by A Company of Fools about a five-member troupe and a doomed production of Hamlet.
The show, done up in clown style complete with round, red noses, features Scott Florence as the preening Pommes Frites and his hapless but loveable sidekick ‘Restes played by Margo MacDonald. Pomme’s efforts to get a production of Hamlet moving are subverted time and again by ‘Restes’ apparently endless talent for bungling and the jealousies, aspirations to diva status and general cluelessness that infect the other three company members: stage manager and wanna-be actor Steve (Al Connors), the mute Vivi (Cari Leslie), and the ever-upstaging Shidgit (Alix Sideris).
Over everything hangs a curse which brings mayhem every time the word Hamlet is spoken. The joke is a based on a theatrical superstition that saying Macbeth inside a theatre guarantees disaster.
We never do get the complete play about the Dane who couldn’t make up his mind. Instead, there are chunks scattered amid the tangents of off-topic foolery, topical allusions and audience interaction that compose the show.
Some of those chunks are very funny, including a rousing take on Polonius’ advice to Laertes about being neither a borrower nor a lender. It references the musical version of Hamlet seen on an episode of 1960s television sitcom Gilligan’s Island, just one of several allusions to the 1960s and ’70s woven through the show.
Other chunks, like ‘Restes’ plainspoken delivery of Hamlet’s soliloquy “To be or not to be,” are surprisingly moving (Lynn Cox’s fine lighting helps foster the hush that falls over the audience in this scene).
The problem is that much of this never coheres, despite the efforts of the cast and director Andy Massingham. The show began life as a fringe piece, and it has the feel of something that’s been stretched too thin, never finding a centre in its transformation to an overly long, two-hour production (writing is credited collectively to the company). Even the set, a clever if under-used composition of risers, fabric and visual jokes by the usually grounded Ivo Valentik, lacks focus.
Perhaps if the show had adhered more closely to Shakespeare’s storyline, there would have been amid the gravy more of the meat we expect in a Fools’ production.
Shakespeare’s Danish Play doesn’t sparkle as brightly as did A Midwinter’s Dream Tale, the Fools’ show a year ago at The Gladstone. Still, it makes a decent diversion on a chilly winter night.
Shakespeare’s Danish Play continues at The Gladstone until Feb. 27. Tickets and information: 613-233-4523, thegladstone.ca.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Alvina Ruprecht on CBC Radio One – Ottawa Morning (Aired February 1, 2010)
KATHLEEN. Ottawa’s only professional Shakespearian theatre, The Company of Fools, is back with THE DANISH PLAY, but why don’t they just come out and say HAMLET??? Therein lies the mystery!
Alvina has seen their shenanigans at THE GLADSTONE THEATRE and is here to tell all. Good Morning Alvina. Let’s talk about THE DANISH PLAY, why are they so coy about the real title?
ALVINA: Well that is part of their intention this time. To mix things up, to critique Shakespeare and all theatre in general, using Hamlet as a pretext. First of all, we know that for actors, it is very bad luck to pronounce the name Macbeth… so theatre, people always say THE SCOTTISH PLAY.
KATHLEEN: but is there a similar curse associated with HAMLET?
ALVINA: Of course not, the company of Fools has created their own curse and shifted it on to Hamlet giving them a whole lot of mysterious things to play with on stage. Of course there is the ghost of Hamlets father in that play so they do have a starting point but then, they spend a lot of time discussing curses, and hauntings, and playing with noises, and voices and strange sound effects. They make the cursed ghost one of the main characters as he rattles furniture, makes smoke puff out from behind the flats, makes green and ghastly lighting effects. The horrid thing rumbles and roars and generally appears to terrify the actors, who are clowns. So it’s actually very funny.
KATHLEEN: But what happens to the Hamlet story in all these stage effects?
ALVINA: Not much really. They do a rip roaring 15 minute résumé of the plot, they take on 4 or 5 famous soliloquies from the play…(to be or not to be… or the Ophelia’s mad scene and drowning, the famous mousetrap scene, the death of Polonius, Yorrick’s skull discovered in the cemetery, but very quickly, Hamlet gets pushed aside.
KATHLEEN: And what have they done instead?
ALVINA: This is a real clown show. The actors are clown characters who perform Shakespeare on Ivo Valentik’s circus arena set, so its theatre within theatre. There are 6 of them. And each clown has his or her own personality. Cari Leslie is an agile mime and can’t talk, Scott Florence is the r prim and authoritarian clown who still sounds like Peter Sellers imitating inspector Cluzot. Margo MacDonald is the the sword fighting victimized clown with the big sad eyes. And Alix Sideris is a spry young thing who appears to be a kind of little lizard who flits about and makes emotional noises and Al Connors is the big daddy clown… they are all brilliant clowns… but the clowning comes first.
KATHLEEN: And did that disappoint you?
ALVINA : Yes it has a bit. They always did very clever parodies of the play, of the dialogue, of the story line and the characters. But the language based parody is almost all gone. this is pure clown routine with verbal and physical gags. I admit, some of it is very funny especially when they critique the theatre… for example the scene where Alix Sideris does Ophelia’s mad scene and then she drowns herself, by turning the scene into an athletic duo in a bath tub, with water bubbling up everywhere: tragedy becomes playful. That’s not an easy thing to pull off. The physical choreography was impeccable-with the clowns doing musical hall numbers, symmetrical dancing, lip synch of popular songs, lots of interaction with the audience. And the final sword fight scene again has clown Margo Macdonald battling the ghost and it all ends, as it does in the play, with a great heap of dead bodies. The Fools not only make fun of the Macbeth curse, but they also spoof the audience, directors, actors and the Shakespearean convention that has everyone dying on stage. They even spoof those who don’t like Kenneth Branagh’s films of Shakespeare, because in their own way, the Fools are carrying on the work of Kenneth Branagh – by bringing Shakespeare into popular culture.
KATHLEEN: It sounds like they have a huge agenda here. Did it really work?
ALVINA: It depends what you are expecting. I was expecting wittier playing with the text. What they really did was work on all their own obsessions and their deep seated need to do this kind of thing. They bring back some clown characters we have already seen and who have worked very well… and it’s still full of references to classic American film comics. Also, We see Scott Florence as the Big boss of the group, who makes fun of himself by appearing to spoil all their fun. They are still hung up on Ice cream which must have some deep hidden meaning for them. It almost turns into a psycho drama where no one really gets cured, they just harness their obsession and turn them into theatre. Which is essentially what they are all about. They are making a statement against traditional interpretations of theatre but I don’t think they have ever gone so far. so in one sense they are perhaps breaking new ground. We have to wait and see. Some of this might be due to Andy Massingham. We know him as an actor but this is his first time directing the Fools and he has let them go wild.
KATHLEEN But it is really so chaotic?
ALVINA. No not at all, it is perfectly orchestrated chaos and its good fun as long as you realize that Hamlet gets lost in the shuffle.
KATHLEEN. Shakespeare’s Danish Play is at THE GLADSTONE until February 27.
2009 Torchlight Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing
Theatre: Much Ado About Nothing
By Patrick Langston, The Ottawa Citizen
July 4, 2009
OTTAWA — A Company of Fools can do so much with so little that the troupe’s very existence sometimes feels like a slap across the fleshy cheeks of excess. The Fools’ buoyant production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is a case in point.
The wily romantic comedy about love and treachery, this summer’s offering in the Fool’s annual Torchlight Shakespeare series, opened Friday in Strathcona Park. It will tour Ottawa parks over the next several weeks. And while Much Ado About Nothing is in part a celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary (we’d do well to get out and support the Fools, whose blend of irreverence and serious theatre chops slaps a grin on po-faced Ottawa), the show’s hardly a blow-out party.
Just four actors play all 20 characters. Well, four actors and some homespun, nearly life-sized puppets with plastic flower pots for heads. A simple fabric backdrop and citronella candles in a semi-circle define the stage, although the Fools, who always urge their park audiences to cozy up close to the playing area, sometimes wind up among the spectators. There are also costumes and a few simple props.
This being an outdoor show, potential distractions abound: the noise of nearby traffic; joggers and other passers-by, some of whom usually stop to catch a few minutes of the show; and, on Friday, showers.
Under director Richard Gelinas, the Fools take all this, and us, and transform it into Messina, Sicily where the play is set. In true Fools fashion, the company’s occasional asides and mugging to the audience simultaneously remind us that we are sprawled on lawn chairs smack-dab in the middle of Ottawa, a confusion of illusion and reality that always delights. The plot is too serpentine to even attempt in a review: let’s just say it involves deception, rich people with too much time on their hands, ample opportunity for Fools-style physical comedy, and an unexpected snatch of Pachelbel’s Canon.
The cast is perfectly balanced. Emmanuelle Zeesman plays a wild west-styled Don Pedro and a blushing Hero among other roles, while Al Connors is Hero’s slightly dim betrothed, Claudio, an apron-flapping maidservant and more. Scott Florence’s roles include Benedick, a formerly dyed-in-the-wool bachelor who falls in love with the flinty-tongued Beatrice, played by Margo MacDonald AKA the scheming Don John. The actors also cart around the puppets, treating their presence with both irony and engagement.
There were a few rough edges Friday night, a delayed entrance or two, which we’ll chalk up to it being opening night. We’ll also chalk up another fine Fools production.
Much Ado About Nothing plays Ottawa parks until Aug. 10. For information, visit www.fools.ca.
A Midwinter’s Dream Tale
Play a Bit of Mid-winter Fun at the Bard’s Expense
Theatre Review by Patrick Langston
Ottawa Citizen, February 5th, 2009
Tim Supple’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the NAC in November was inspired, eloquent and magical. Ah, but it didn’t have two characters, one named ‘Restes and the other Pomme Frites, with red plastic noses, now did it? Nor a Titania who, in a flush of anger at a mischief-making sprite, exclaims, “Don’t Puck with me!”
No, for those and countless other irreverent departures from Shakespeare’s original text, not to mention borrowings from the playwright’s The Winter’s Tale, we turn to A Company of Fools and their splendidly funny A Midwinter’s Dream Tale at The Gladstone.
This show is a first for the company that’s never met a Shakespeare play it couldn’t spoof at the very moment it’s honouring the man. A celebration of the Fools’ twentieth season, this original co-production with Gladstone Productions is bigger (a cast of 13), more elaborate (including an ethereal set by Ivo Valentik depicting the Athenian forest) and in a finer setting (the glitzy Gladstone) than anything the company has ever done.
Directed by Al Connors, it’s also the company’s most assured and probably funniest work to date. Broad physical comedy, relentless pillorying of the foppish fairy king Oberon (Kris Joseph, who brings a joyful presence to everything he does), a deliciously spineless Puck (Jesse Buck), fine original music and choreography by Emmanuelle Zeesman, who also plays the tempestuous Queen Titania, terrific lighting and costumes by David Magladry and Louise Hayden respectively: the show brims with good things.
Those things include Pommes Frites and ‘Restes. Played by Scott Florence and Margo MacDonald — who are reprising characters they first created for an earlier Fools show, Shakespeare’s Danish Play — the two clowns find themselves caught up in Oberon and Titania’s marital strife and all that that can entail in a fairy world where magic potions are real and common sense a distant dream.
At once part of the action and alien to it, the supercilious Pommes Frites and slightly dense ‘Restes wind up caring for Titania’s baby, whom Pommes Frites names Rum Raisin after licking the baby to see what flavour it is. They encounter a band of fairies played by guest actors, some of them theatre students. They perform short skits to the utter indifference of the royal court. And – thanks to Florence and MacDonald’s performance skills — they create a little bubble of mutually dependent existence at once endearing, fractious and ridiculously funny.
This being a blend of Shakespearean romantic comedy and A Company of Fools, all comes right in the end. The only thing remaining is for audiences to flood The Gladstone for a revitalizing dose of mid-winter fun.
A Midwinter’s Dream Tale continues at The Gladstone until Feb. 21. Tickets & times, 613-233-4523 or www.thegladstone.ca
The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet
RICHARD III in Bouffon
Eric’s Best Bets, ERIC LONGLEY, CTV News
OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT THE FOOLS
Secret Shakespeare Experiment #3:
Ottawa Citizen, June 12, 2007
Scott Florence interviewed by Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project: Marissa McHugh, July 2003