Shaw Festival Review: Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Shaw Festival Review: Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Mrs. Warren’s Profession A play by George Bernard Shaw Directed by Eda Holmes Designed by Patrick Clark Starring: Jennifer Dzialoszynski (Vivie Warren), Nicole Underhay (Mrs. Warren), Gray Powell (Mr. Praed), Thom Marriott (Sir George Crofts), Wade Bogart-O’Brien (Frank Gardner), Shawn Wright (Reverend Samuel Gardner) One has to hand it to Eda Holmes. This year she has directed two major productions at Shaw both of which deal with the “woman question.” How do you handle a problem like—well, in Wilde’s case, a shameless woman like “Mrs. Arbuthnot,” who has a baby out of wedlock or in this current Shavian instance, someone like Mrs. Warren? Mrs. Warren’s Profession is one of Shaw’s first and most notorious plays. Shaw’s justification of his protagonist’s position as former prostitute and current brothel keeper led to it being banned in London for over 30 years. Holmes brilliantly brings the play up-to-date by staging it as a revival of Mrs. Warren’s Profession’s initial production in London at the Men’s Lyric Club in 1902. A production in a club was outside of the Lord Chamberlain’s purview as a censor, which was how Shaw was able to get the play to part of the public (we could call them the one percent) within a decade of when it was written. By placing the play back at the Lyric, the actors get to take selfies and talk directly to the audience, explaining that they’re now temporarily invited into their club. Women, they explain, are only allowed in certain rooms at the club and if they wish to smoke, they can only do so outdoors, accompanied by a man, who...
Shaw Festival Review: A Woman of No Importance

Shaw Festival Review: A Woman of No Importance

A Woman of No Importance A play by Oscar Wilde Directed by Eda Holmes Designed by Michael Gianfrancesco Starring: Martin Happer (Lord Illingworth), Wade Bogart-O’Brien (Gerald Arbuthnot), Fiona Byrne (Mrs. Aruthnot), Fiona Reid (Lady Hunstanton), Diana Donnelly (Mrs. Allonby), Julia Course (Hester Worsley), Mary Haney (Lady Pontefract), Jim Mezon (Sir John Pontefract) Oscar Wilde only wrote four comedies in the late Victorian era and they’re all worth reviving today. Clearly in agreement with that assessment, Jackie Maxwell, the artistic director of the Shaw festival, has already included Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere’s Fan and An Ideal Husband in her programme over the years. Now, with A Woman of No Importance, the quartet is complete, just as Ms. Maxwell is finishing off her final season at the festival. Maxwell’s long-time associate Shaw director Eda Holmes has helmed this production, which features a fine ensemble performance led by the inimitable Fiona Reid (though she doesn’t have the major role), elegant design by Michael Gianfrancesco and an interesting temporal concept, moving the tale from late Victoriana to England in the early 1950s. A Woman of No Importance is an odd play for Wilde. Much of it takes place at a dinner party thrown by Lady Hunstanton (Fiona Reid) in which people drink, eat, play pool and flirt outrageously. Like all of his works, it features great aphorisms but when a plot eventually emerges about half way through the proceedings, it suddenly shifts to melodrama. Before getting into that most un-Wilde-like of all genres, let’s relish some of the aphorisms. During the very funny parts of the play, the elegant...
Weiner

Weiner

Weiner Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg, directors Starring: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Laurence O’ Donnell, Sydney Leathers  Documentary Feature Anthony Weiner is a great subject for a documentary. The former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives and New York City Councilor had apparently thrown away a brilliant political career when he was caught sexting with multiple women in 2011. Two years later, with the full-hearted support of his wife Huma Abedin, Weiner decided to revive his career by running for mayor of New York. At that point, Josh Kriegman, a former Weiner political aide, his filmmaking partner Elyse Steinberg, were allowed unprecedented access by Weiner to make a doc about his home life and campaign. At first, all went well. Audiences in New York took to Weiner, accepting his apology and embracing his opinions about how to better the city. Huma, a quiet but brilliantly effective woman, who is one of Hilary Clinton’s main political insiders, made rare public statements endorsing her man. At one point, in the Democratic mayoral primary Weiner was neck and neck with Bill de Blasio, who eventually was the winning candidate in the ensuing election. What happened to Weiner was extraordinary. He was caught in yet another sexting scandal, this time involving a part-time porn actress named Sydney Leathers. Rather than resigning from the campaign, Weiner insisted on fighting on, bringing his marriage and integrity into microscopic scrutiny and huge media attention. Weiner became the subject, once again, of jokes on all the late night shows from Colbert to Leno. He was harassed everywhere he went, including—memorably—a Brooklyn deli where he engaged...
The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon Nicolas Winding Refn, director & co-script w/Mary Laws & Polly Stenham Starring: Elle Fanning (Jesse), Jena Malone (Ruby) Karl Giusman (Dean), Bella Heathcote (Gigi), Abbey Lee (Sarah), Christina Hendricks (Roberta), Keanu Reeves (Hank) Is being an auteur a justification for creating horror films? Some would say yes and cite David Cronenberg and George Romero as two excellent filmmakers who shook us up with films like The Fly and Night of the Living Dead but did it artistically. If they can do it, should there be any reservations when Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn does the same? The Neon Demon is a deliberately provocative film about the modeling industry in Hollywood. Refn, whose previous films include Bronson, Drive and the Pusher trilogy, is clearly a filmmaker with a vision and a number of directorial signatures. His films are violent, pictorial and, at their best, absolutely compelling. But he’s also been accused of being a manipulative misogynist, incapable of writing and directing a film about women. His response to those accusations is this film. Set in Los Angeles, The Neon Demon stars Elle Fanning as Jesse, a 16-year-old virgin, who comes to Southern California to make it in the big time as a model. She quickly gets picked up by an agent, is immediately featured in hot film shoots and has a make up artist named Ruby (Jena Malone) come on to her as a friend and mentor. But things aren’t all great for Jesse. Two of Ruby’s friends, Sarah and Gigi, are models and jealous of her success. Jesse’s motel manager, Hank (Keanu Reeves) is an angry...
Elora Festival 2016 – A Celebration in Song!

Elora Festival 2016 – A Celebration in Song!

24 Performances – 5 Intimate Venues – 1 World-Class Festival! Each summer for the past 37 years the beautiful community of Elora plays host to one of Ontario’s signature music festivals – The Elora Festival. Home base to the sights and sounds of the most beautiful music in the world, this summer from July 8th to 24th don’t miss out on experiencing the joys of seeing and hearing this incredible lineup of international headliners. Here are just a few you can look forward to this year: Anagnoson and Kinton – July 9th “…an outstanding two-piano recital with formidable precision and panache.” — The New York Times Celebrating their 40th anniversary, the internationally acclaimed Canadian piano duo, Anagnoson and Kinton, is joined by the Elora Festival Singers for an exciting program of works for piano and voice. Starlight Jazz Series: Elizabeth Shepherd & Kevin Breit – July 9th “Stunning… original and exciting”—Seattle Post Soul-jazz innovator Elizabeth Shepherd comes from Montreal to join with one of the world’s greatest guitarists, Kevin Breit (Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones). Come see their Mixtape Session in our new Starlight Series setting — the Grand River Raceway Tent across from the Gambrel Barn. Special menu and drinks available. Annex String Quartet – July 10th “One of the things I loved most when I first heard them was their passionate interpretations.” — David Harrington, Kronos Quartet Have a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon of music from the Roaring Twenties with the dynamic Annex String Quartet and soprano, Sarah Jane Pelzer. Add a picnic lunch from The Desert Rose Café to complete the “20s garden party” theme. The Glory of Bach – July 10th...
Tempest Storm

Tempest Storm

Tempest Storm Nimisha Mukerji, director and co-script w/Kaitlyn Regehr Full length documentary  Starring: Tempest Storm, Harvey Robbins, Herb Jeffries One of the biggest stars of the 1950s American underworld scene, with its nightclubs,  jazz musicians, comics and strippers, was the “classy” and marvelously endowed performer, Tempest Storm. Possibly the most renowned stripper of the period, she had affairs with Elvis and John F. Kennedy, and starred in a notorious erotic “art” film called Teaserama with the equally acclaimed Bettie Page. The Southern redhead caused considerable controversy in the late ‘50s when she married the “Black buckaroo” Herb Jeffries, a handsome African-American singer and actor. And a decade and a half later, Ms. Storm astonished a generation of rock’n’rollers by being the opening act for the James Gang when they played Carnegie Hall. There’s no doubt that Tempest Storm is worthy of a documentary feature. Nimisha Mukerji, the Canadian director of 65_Red Roses, about a young woman fighting cystic fibrosis, has focused on the tragic tale behind Tempest Storm’s bawdy triumphs. Now in her early 80s and no longer able to perform after injuring her hip while  stripping a few years ago, Storm is an auburn lioness in winter, ready for a doc portrait. Mukerji has come through, offering in Tempest Storm a sympathetic feature biography of a beautiful woman who had to fight a series of abusive men in order to become a star. But while she includes a few reminisces from Storm’s exciting past and a considerable amount of archival footage, Mukerji’s doc concentrates on the octogenarian performer trying to connect to her long lost family. As the...