Tag Archives: Albion Rooms

Undercurrents – Raising the Bar

http://www.undercurrentsfestival.ca 12-21 February 2015

Attendance at Undercurrents opening night was testament to Ottawa’s writing and performing talents where a boisterous and enthusiastic crowd filled the house for a trio of outstanding acts. As the festival grows year on year now extending over two weekends with more than 30 performances and an international act to boot the bar (sic)is set  high in both theatrical standards and as a shining example of how to run a event.

Pat Gauthier in the Studio

Pat Gauthier in the Studio

Undercurrents delivers quality theatre in a convivial roughly-polished atmosphere proving it’s the sum of the parts that create a success. Planning to stay for only the first play it was the attention brought to the overall experience that drew me in to buy tickets and contribute to the Pay-What-You-Can (PWYC) act in the Studio (ahem bar) sandwiched between the two pay shows.

Remarks throughout the night from Festival Director Patrick Gauthier provided a welcoming, personal note to the proceedings. Gauthier’s vision and genuine enthusiasm alongside his personable approach is energising theatre in this city.

First up was Thunk!Theatre who set sail in Far & Near & Here on a serendipitous journey of self discovery with a first date thrown in for good measure. Plastic bottles haphazardly litter the set and the opening is rather choppy until Ned (Geoff McBride) and Ted (Karen Balcome) row in to each other’s lives via a notebook left in a cafe and a series of long-distance postcards. Meeting at a GPS point, Here, halfway between their respective homes of Near and Far both are at sea in more ways than one. The discarded bottles and office chairs are not only rowboats nor simply a metaphor for plastic choked oceans but as these two strangers are forced to face personal dissatisfaction head on the play moves from purposefully whimsy to become a pensive thought-provoking piece.

Air by Tottering Biped Theatre was a one-man physical performance with Trevor Copp nothing short of astonishing as he wordlessly encapsulates life after death, a stag hunt, and a man who reaches for and climbs to the stars. These brief performances set to well chosen soundtracks carried the audience easily with physical performances delivering beauty, humour and humanity.  Expecting little at the outset this act proved to be the gem of opening night.

Love + Hate by The Peptides delivers song-filled vignettes tackling the big issues of the day from corporate corruption through the polarizing effects of love and hate. The vocals of this 9-piece are fantastic, clearly a crowd pleaser, as evidenced by the packed house but the theatricality of the performances left me cold; the vocals far outstripping the Thespian routine. A straight-up concert strikes me as a more tempting proposition though I seemed to be in the minority on the night.

A glimpse of the generous spread

A glimpse of the generous spread

The curation of this event is fantastic. Across-the-road local class act resto-bar The Albion Rooms was enlisted to cater opening night and Chef Stephen La Salle outdid himself with a fantastically generous and creative spread. Most dates includes a PWYC option allowing the uninitiated to dip a toe in fringe with satisfying acts in the bar (ahem Studio). On Wednesday Feb 18th they’ve organised a free beer tasting with Dominion City sandwiched between SPIN at 19:00 and Marathon at 21:00 taking theatre accessibility to a whole new level. Ottawa’s theatres can frequently be staid seemingly forgetting that pretension is no marker of success or enjoyment.   Not so at Undercurrents where the delivery of the experience is equal to the quality of the selected pieces. Gauthier and co deliver an experience where the NAC season-ticket holder will feel as comfortable as a Sens fan. Neither precious nor pretentious Undercurrents gets it right delivering professional quality theatre alongside a proper night out.

ArtsCourt, 2 Daly Ave, Ottawa, ON
http://www.undercurrentsfestival.ca

12-21 February 2015

Wknd Roundup: Fire up your Fun

It’s here and it’s in your neighbourhood. The Ottawa Fringe Festival opens Thursday evening with most venues in and around Sandy Hill from the Arts Court headquarters through St Alban’s on King Eddy. As well as a cavalcade of new shows there is also Free Programming with concerts on the Downtown Rideau stage in Waller Park,  the Courtyard for lounging and local fave Albion Rooms is getting in on the fun with 8 dishes for 8$ each from 8PM-Midnight exclusively for Fringe go’ers.

FringeAs championed by Jian Gomeshi Fringe showcases some of our countries greatest artistic talents, the shows are plentiful and the prices are knock-down cheap – support the artists, support local and get your 10days of Fringe on!

Though with the free concerts, great eats and tremendous shows you’re schedule will be packed for the next 10days there is always time for more right?

Love jazz then check out all the great events going on at the Ottawa Jazz Festival on from 20-30June. Our favourite aspect is the unpredictable Late Night Jamming sessions and we are thrilled that this year they’ve relocated The Albion Rooms. Pop in around 10:30PM and be amazed.

The World Cup rages on and this afternoon is England vs Uruguay. No better place to watch it that at Our England House head-quartered at The Lunenburg Pub on Waller St.  3PM

Thursday night 6PM at Patro – 40 Cobourg St – a public meeting to discuss cycling infrastructure on St Patrick St. The Mayor issued a letter yesterday via Citizens for Safe Cycling proposing that cyclist accept “Super Sharrows”, sidewalk riding and a 3 block (between Cobourg & Beausoleil) ped-cycling mini-path as a solution. We hope this mish-mash “solution” is challenged and attendees advocate for a true solution. We suggest slowing traffic speeds, thus enabling narrowing of car-lanes and addition of permanent protected bike lanes.

Grab your swim kits kids, local Sandy Hill wading pools open this Friday! UPDATE: City website is out of date and Patro wading pool is NOT OPEN Both the brand spanking new pool by the Patro – 40 Cobourg – and the pool in Strathcona Park open June 20th whereas July 2nd is the date for the pool by the Sandy Hill Community Centre.  Happy splashing!

Having advocated for cycling infrastructure on Thursday reward yourself with a Bike Rave and a party at Bank St’s beguiling Glow Fair.

Yep it’s Ottawa’ 1st Bike Rave Friday night 7:30PM starting at 200 Lees Bike Coop.  The bike rave is a critical mass-style group ride with portable music that includes dance party stops and ends at the Bank Street GlowFair Party. Costumes and glow sticks are highly encouraged.

Summer Solstice 8locksSaturday from 7PM it is the Summer Solstice Cycle Soiree at 8 Locks Flat (191 Colonel By – the beach resto along the canal between Corktown Bridge and Laurier St). In conjunction with Citizens for Safe Cycling there are prizes every 15mins and a free gift for all cyclists at 8:55PM.  Thanks for supporting cycling through the cold depths of winter 8Locks and thanks for having the best licensed bike-friendly sunset views in Ottawa!