Broadcast text reviews of: The Dog and the Angel and Bed & Breakfast

by Lynn on December 19, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

The following reviews were broadcast Friday, December 18, 2014; CIUT FRIDAY MORNING, 89.5FM The Dog and the Angel at the Evergreen Brick Works, Bayview Ave above Pottery Road until Dec. 30, and Bed & Breakfast at Tarragon Extra Space until Dec. 20, 2014.

The host was Phil Taylor.

It’s theatre fix time with Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer. What festive treats do you have for us this week?

T’is the season for family fare and I have two shows for families with children. First is The Dog and the Angel, produced by Theatre Columbus, written by Martha Ross. It plays at the Evergreen Brick Works on Bayview Ave.

It’s about a very sick dog, a lost and mangled angel tree ornament, and a couple who find the love they lost. And the second one, is Bed & Breakfast, a gentle piece, written and performed by Puppetmongers, who are brother and sister, David and Ann Powell. It’s about a prince who falls in love with a bug loving housemaid and wants to marry her.

Let’s talk about The Dog and the Angel. Tell us the story.

Martha Ross has written the script. She is one of the co-founders of Theatre Columbus, that is producing this show. It’s about a family at Christmastime that has its problems.

Rozel, wants to decorate the tree but can’t find the ornamental angel. Her husband Barker is feeling a bit guilty about that. Some of it broke and Augie the dog ate some of it and Barker just threw it away. He never owned up to it to Rozel. Rozel is furious at him and wants to go to the dump to find it.

Their daughter Isabel is fretting because Augie seems to be so sick he’s in a coma. She wants to take the dog to the vet. Her mother is more intent on decorating the tree, singing carols, finding the angel and THEN going to the vet’s. There is also a Shakespeare spouting grandfather named Sampson. And his smiling, scatter-brained wife, Claire.

There are other interesting characters like a philosophy spouting man who lives in the dump; a renegade named One-eyed Jack, and a man-sized squirrel that skitters and twitters in an around the audience at high speed.

So with all this these characters are frustrated with each other.

And it plays at the Everygreen Brick Works on Bayview Avenue?

Fantastic place to be at night. The show is produced by Theatre Columbus that has done their last two Christmas shows at the Brick Works. The place works a treat the way director Jennifer Brewin uses it. We are led around the area by a guide holding a pole on the top of which is an illuminated acorn. Unlike other years, the playing area this year is rather flat when we go outside—when I saw it it was raining slightly. That added to the adventure of it all.

We also go into the historic Brick Works and watch scenes from in there. Along our journey we heard one of the choirs singing hymns—terrific effect. Kudos to Glenn Davidson who did the set and lighting. A character jumps out from behind a huge metal door that hides a mini dump.

At another area inside the space is an illuminated mountain of garbage bags and strategically located props, a violin, and the philosophical guy who lives in the dump.

He reminds Rozel that she used to play the violin and urges her to find the music in it. In between all this Isabel has Augie in a little wagon and she pulls it along trying to find the vet.

Is this a story for this time of year?

I think it is because Martha Ross has written about characters who have lost their way and are reminded how to find it again. Rozel gave up the violin when she got married.

Barker meets a guy who has traveled the world and for a second Barker is envious but ultimately realizes that he loves Rozel. And he urges to play again. Samson and Claire always loved each other and now it’s deeper.

And Isabel and Augie?

Well this time of year is about having faith….I leave it at that. But I did have a concern. I was a bit uncomfortable that Rozel was obsessing on that angel tree ornament when her daughter was so upset about Augie. And Augie was obviously so sick.

I thought that emphasis in the story, on Rozel who had a set list of what she wanted to do before she took the dog to the vet, just made me squirm a bit. Perhaps it’s the point, but I think more balance could have been used in the story-telling.

In any case, it’s a quietly magical experience to go to the Brick Works and watch a Theatre Columbus show with this lively cast. And there is hot chocolate and marshmallows to boot.

And Bed and Breakfast at Tarragon Extra Space.

This is created and performed by Puppetmongers—who are David and Ann Powell—brother and sister. This is their company’s 40th anniversary. They write and perform the shows, manipulate the puppets and create the sets.

Bed & Breakfast combines fairytales such as “The Princess and the Pea” and as they say in their press information, large references to Downton Abbey. Prince Cuthbert is fascinated with insects. He has fallen in love with Amy, a housemaid in the palace—Poshingham Palace. She also loves bugs. They have a lot in common.

He proposes to Amy in front of his mother the Queen, who is outraged and fires Amy. The Queen also sends Cuthbert away for a year to forget Amy. He thinks about her everyday on his travels knowing she would find it all fascinating.

A year later a mysterious, poised woman comes to the house. The queen is sure she is a princess and right for Cuthbert, so the queen puts her to the test. We know who it is.

How do Ann and David Powell tell their story—is it straight puppetry?

They tell the story by using a cleverly created doll’s house, the size of a palace. The front of it slides to the side revealing the inside of the house. The puppets are miniature and yet intricate and both David and Ann Powell are narrators, characters, as well as the puppeteers. It’s a very short run that ends on the weekend with public performances.

I was booked so I saw the show with a school group that were quiet but also got the jokes. And they were really impressed when Cuthbert ‘flew’ home over head, in a plane that zoomed in on a wire and crashed into the wings.

At the end, kids are invited to come up and look at the set and ask any questions they want of the two creators. Bed & Breakfast is a sweet, delicate little show with lots of charm.

Thanks Lynn. That’s Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer. You can read Lynn’s blog at twitter @slotkinletter.

The Dog and the Angel plays at the Evergreen Brick Works, on Bayview above Pottery Road until Dec. 30.

Bed & Breakfast plays at the Tarragon Extra Space until Dec. 20.

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