Archives

PREVIEWS & REVIEWS

CONFESSIONS & OBSESSIONS
2019-2020

PREVIEWS

A new Ellen Chorley play is the centrepiece of the upcoming Northern Light season
Liz Nicholls – 12 Night
See full preview here

Northern Light explores bloodlust and other deep, dark secrets in 2019/20
Liane Faulder – Edmonton Journal
See full preview here



A WOMAN'S BODY
2018-2019

THE CARDIAC SHADOW

PREVIEWS

Having programmed the cardiac shadow 18 months ago, before issues of the border wall shut down the United States government and children died in immigrant detention centres, Northern Light Theatre’s timing is once again all too relevant with this show. Trevor comments, “I think we’re in a perilous time in terms of our own political world and society. I think we’re slipping down a slippery slope if we think that things like the Holocaust are so long ago and they don’t happen anymore, you only need to open up a paper. A lot of people have suggested to me that maybe we need trigger warnings for this show, but… this play is a warning. If we forget what happened, we will repeat it. There is nothing graphic or violent that people require trigger warnings for, but I think the ideas that are present and the history that hangs over this actual true life situation that happened is profoundly disturbing, espeically when it’s juxtaposed with the emotional hard work that is done by these women to get through this trial experiment that they’re involved in.”
Jenna Marynowski After The House Lights
See full preview here

“We were the thermometers of these men. The mercury was in our veins, rising and falling with every heartbeat. Our bodies measured the temperature of death.” 

“You could have actors just stand and deliver, of course,” Schmidt says of the production possibilities he considered. “But I didn’t want the man onstage; it’s not about him…. I think the women have to be bodies. I wanted to see them as real women (not film images). And I wanted to see them move….” He’s dressed his live cast in flesh-coloured costumes: “it’s the idea of columns of flesh; they all appear to just be skin.”

Stashko plays Anna (to Anna’s voice-over, actor Rachel Bowron) who escapes the extreme duress of imprisonment to her thought haven, memories of music. The play, Stashko thinks, is not about the graphic detail of torture, and “more about resilience…. How do you get through it? how do you muster that? what do you cling to at your lowest moments?”

“You could have actors just stand and deliver, of course,” Schmidt says of the production possibilities he considered. “But I didn’t want the man onstage; it’s not about him…. I think the women have to be bodies. I wanted to see them as real women (not film images). And I wanted to see them move….” He’s dressed his live cast in flesh-coloured costumes: “it’s the idea of columns of flesh; they all appear to just be skin.”

Stashko plays Anna (to Anna’s voice-over, actor Rachel Bowron) who escapes the extreme duress of imprisonment to her thought haven, memories of music. The play, Stashko thinks, is not about the graphic detail of torture, and “more about resilience…. How do you get through it? how do you muster that? what do you cling to at your lowest moments?”
Liz Nicholls –12 Night
See full preview here

REVIEWS

The heart of humanity beats on in Northern Light Theatre production of Cardiac Shadow : Co-production with Good Women Dance Collective brings beauty to darkness

Co-productions are increasingly a fact of theatre life. Bringing two companies together to produce a show can save money and potentially increase the audience by appealing to fans of both.

Of course, that’s the practical perspective. From an artistic perspective, a co-production can fuse two worlds in a way that gives each of them a new lens through which to see the work. So it is with the latest Northern Light Theatre production, Cardiac Shadow.

The 10-minute monologues are set to dance by members of Good Women Dance Collective. Dressed in flesh-coloured costumes, Kate Stashko, Ainsley Hillyard, Alida Kendell and Alison Kause skillfully interpret the words, bringing them to life without physically overwhelming their meaning.

This is what happens in the show. But how it feels is something else.

There is poetry in the combination of voiceovers, illustrated by the flesh-and-bones of the dancers. Sometimes it soothes, at other times, it is jarring. (Alison Kause as Sarah does terrifying things with her face.)

The evening begins with a 12-minute, black-and-white film created by Katrina Beatty of Loud Whisper Productions (the multimedia, film and projection designer for the show). In it, a male narrator (the doctor in the hideous experiments) talks about his daughter, a little blonde girl who is playing in the snow with a suitcase full of items seemingly collected from concentration camp inhabitants, including eyeglasses, and a prayer shawl. The doctor (voiced by Vance Avery) shares tender tales about his beloved daughter, and details of the scientific experiments in the same monologue, with chilling effect.

The set, designed by the show’s director, Trevor Schmidt, encapsulates both the horror of the situation, and the alternate universe created by the women. Though the four dancers must step through a glittering barbed-wire fence to make their way onto the set, the set itself is warm and rich (thanks to lighting by Beth Dart) and features a back wall from which stringed instruments and wooden spoons hang from lengths of twine like a curtain.

It is the final moments of the show that have the greatest impact. I won’t spoil it with a description, because it must be seen to be appreciated. Somehow, through the darkness, light persists.
Liane Faulter – The Edmonton Journal
See full review here

The Cardiac Shadow: Human spirit soars above Nazi atrocity in harrowing play

The Good Women Dance Collective – Ainsley Hillyard, Alison Kause, Alida Kendell and Kate Stashko – is a quartet of physically powerful, electric talents. They arrive dressed in simple flesh coloured shifts and movingly act out the dreams that sustain them during their ordeal.

There is a fine line between dancing a story and merely miming its actions. The latter tends to use words as narration and the dancers as props. These dancers advance the story line, maintaining its own truthfulness and use their innate capacity for body language to offer an honest level of emotion not found in speech.

In The Cardiac Shadow Trevor Schmidt has created a true immersive multimedia experience. The intimate space in the Studio Theatre draws you right into the action. For the sound design Schmidt has turned to the busiest of local musical wizards, Dave Clarke. Clarke has devised an aural universe that includes voices weaving in and out of the music, sometimes echoing back earlier phrases and thoughts. Katrina Beatty of Loud Whisper Production provides the evocative film and projections.

In this production, action does not speak louder than words. The two co-exist in this mixed company (17 of them) of committed artists producing, from a deeply personal place, an overarching story of the human spirit soaring above inconceivable torment. The ending comes as something of an unexpected metaphysical miracle. The final moments will stay with you for some time.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here

Horrifying history in the cardiac shadow

Though the subject matter is dark and heavy, the shows production elements bring a poetic beauty to the telling of the story. The movement work has a dream-like quality to it, which matches the pace of the voice acting and really does make one feel as though we are watching the inner goings on of the women’s minds. Dave Clarke’s sound design is a constant score to the 60-minute piece and adds an emotional layer to the show that is not conveyed by the mostly stoic expressions on the dancers’ faces as they are meant to be imagining themselves removed from their physical bodies. Katrina Beatty’s video and projections set the place and walk the fine line of humanizing not the doctor, but the victims of the Holocaust, by bringing to life the rings, menorah, clothes, hair and other belongings stripped of those who entered the concentration camps. Trevor Schmidt’s set design firmly places the audience in the role of the observer – the outsider looking in on the experiment. This set up doesn’t just show us the events of the Holocaust, it places us into the shoes of the ordinary people who stood by until it was too late.

Which brings me back to the idea of why? Why now? Why this play? It shows humanity at our most horrible without any need for gruesome images or descriptions because it takes advantage of the most intricate theatre of all – the theatre of the mind. So, why see it? And the simple answer is that the resonance this play has today, where racial tensions and an idea of ‘us versus them’ seems to be constantly on the rise and where we’re giving more and more of ourselves over to the government and (even more terrifying) corporations, it’s important to remember lessons history should have taught us. Specifically, the lessons that will help us recognize what the consequences can be when steps which seem little or innocuous or even necessary at the time quickly go out of hand. It ensures that every time we step out into that bracing -30 January weather, we remember the story of the four nameless women and countless anonymous men who were the victims of these experiments during the Holocaust.
Jenna Marynowski – After The House Lights
See full review here

The Cardiac Shadow: where the soul goes under extreme duress. A review.

The Cardiac Shadow, which began as a series of monologues by the American writer Clay McLeod Chapman, isn’t a re-enactment of torture, or an invitation to be appalled, or even a cautionary tale. Not exactly. In the conception of Northern Light director Trevor Schmidt, it’s an elegantly artful little chamber piece. And the chamber in question is the mind, or more precisely the memory vault where the human mind can travel and warm itself when the present is too terrible to bear.

 “Multi-disciplinary” is an oft-tortured term in the arts. Here’s a production that experiments with using dance, theatre, music, and film in an original amalgam — as an homage to imagination under unthinkable circumstances.
Liz Nicholls - 12thnight.ca
See full review here

The Cardiac Shadow Brings The Heart Of Humanity To Life In A Remarkable Multi-Disciplinary Production


Both visually mesmerizing and profoundly chilling, The Cardiac Shadow by Clay McLeod Chapman, provides viewers with an innovative approach to Holocaust narration. This merging of lyrical modern movement, and five separative monologues, is an avant-garde representation of four women’s experiences enduring medical experimentation after being taken from Ravensbruck, a women’s concentration camp ninety miles from Berlin that operated from 1939 to 1945. 

The modern minimalism of The Cardiac Shadow’s production team is nothing short of masterful brilliance.

With International Holocaust Remembrance Day being observed on January 27 by the global community, Chapman’s The Cardiac Shadow is a timely semi-fictional representation of an immensely depraved and dark chapter of unethical scientific research. It is a remarkable work of avant-garde theatre.  
By Regan Treewater-Lipes - Edmonton Jewish News
See full review here


ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES

PREVIEWS

I’m not interested in a play that shows the world as we want it to be,” says Schmidt, 49, who has spent 17 years at the helm of the vibrant non-profit. “I’m interested in plays about the way things are, so we can change it.
Liane Faulder – The Edmonton Journal
See full preview here

"Frankly, I’ve always been more interested in women’s stories than men’s," says Trevor Schmidt, his dander up on a break last week from rehearsals for Origin of the Species
Liz Nicholls –12 Night
See full preview here

Rod speaks to artistic director Trevor Schmidt and actor Kristin Johnson from the Northern Light Theatre Company about the upcoming all-female season.
CBC Radio
Listen

Lavery cleverly wrote the script with multiple layers.  “It starts out as a comedy and then you get a punch in the gut, and it’s where the vulnerability, sorrow and resonance comes through”
Anna Borowiecki – St. Albert Gazette
See full preview here

REVIEWS

Winner of 2 awards — Best Duo and Most Ingenios Set!
Colin MacLean - Gig City
See full review here

Origin of the Species is about time and evolution and the question if on the cosmic calendar, humankind will make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve or if we will destroy ourselves in the process. Under Molly’s tutelage, Victoria evolves from the earliest of hominids to a modern-day woman, sending her out into the world at 4 minutes to midnight to save humankind, armed with the English language, imagination, love, a knowledge of history, and a love of learning. Are these the tools that will save humankind? Playwright Bryony Lavery leaves the audience to fill in the answers.
Jenna Marnowski - After The House Lights
See full review here

The first thing you notice on entering the intimate Northern Light Theatre space is Trevor Schmidt's remarkable set. It's an eccentric collection – all sorts of objects, gadgets, small sculptures, bottles, knick-knacks, doodads and doohickeys. And clocks. Many clocks…This whole plot is playful and whimsical and requires a large suspension of belief. You go along with it, propelled by Schmidt's hugely sympathetic and subtle direction (and Elise Jason's amazing pinpoint lighting) – and the skill of the actors. There's a growing fascination on the part of the audience with the process of discovery. The two performers take full advantage of the comic and philosophical elements of the story, while remaining grounded enough to generate a sense of believability. Johnston is particularly able to carry us through the trajectory of the cavewoman's early inarticulate and confused reactions to her transformation to woman of our times. A real chemistry develops as the two alter their shifting and growing dynamic.
Colin MacLean - Gig City
See full review here

In four million years, the He/Him/ His-centric view of human history has made false claims stick. Man didn’t invent fire, for example; it was Woman, taking a cue from volcanoes. Contrary to popular wisdom Man doesn’t have exclusive proprietorship over the invention (and lethal use) of weaponry…
Liz Nicholls – 12th Night
See full review here

And Kristin Johnston as Victoria gives a performance worthy of a Sterling Award. From the moment she steps on stage, all eyes hang on every movement and sound she makes.
Anna Borowiecki – St. Albert Gazette
See full review here

This afternoon I took in Origin of the Species presented by Northern Light Theatre. I got there early and lucked out catching the Director's Circle pre-show chat. Director Trevor Schmidt talked about several of his choices in costumes and casting and in play selection. There were also questions from the group and it made for a nice introduction to the work before seeing the play…

The show made me think of the idea that all the cultural rules of the world are made-up, and that it's not always easy to definitively say which are best or right. As we live in a world with many conflicting cultures, it is often only courtesy and a willingness to be open that allows for civility and exchange of ideas.
Kristen Finlay – Finster Finds
See full review here



THE VIRGIN, THE WHORE AND SOMETHING IN BETWEEN
2017-2018

THE TESTAMENT OF MARY

PREVIEWS

The thing with stories is that there’s always another side. And usually, one side is more often heard or believed because of a power imbalance. In Colm Tóibín‘s The Testament of Mary, an untold side of the story of Jesus – from the point of view of his mother – is put on centre stage.
Jenna Marynowski - After the House Lights
See full preview here

The star of the famous story gets top billing and a lot of press. And he always has, being the Son of God and starting a world-wide religion and all. But you don’t hear from his mom in any of the usual “impeccable sources.”   

Mary was there, after all, as her son Jesus acquired divinity, became The Son, and suffered an agonizing death. In the play opening  Northern Light Theatre’s 42nd season Friday — adapted for stage by the Irish author Colm Toíbín from his own Booker Prize-nominated novella — we’ll meet a mother with a point of view and a grievance. And we’ll hear Mary’s own spirited and highly skeptical version of the events that led to the crucifixion and the resurrection.
Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
See full preview here

REVIEWS

The Testament of Mary takes place against a set with stunning black and red aesthetics designed by Director, Costume and Set Designer Trevor Schmidt. Walking into the PCL Studio Theatre, you are confronted with lights strung across the stage, separating the audience from the playing space. The lights are reminiscent of a barbed wire fence and are positioned so closely to the audience that it feels confrontational.  Serving primarily as Mary’s safehouse, the three red panels positioned at an angle undergo a chilling transformation late in the play that I can’t describe (although, it made my stomach drop) – you just have to see it.
Jenna Marynowski - After the House Lights
See full review here

Mary, as we meet her in Toíbín’s play is not the gentle beneficent Piéta central to Catholic tradition, a departure which has certainly generated controversy amongst the faithful. Nor is Mary, as we meet her in Schmidt’s production, a natural firebrand radical. Turner has a quieter kind of intensity, acid-tinged around the edges of what seems to be natural reserve. She conjures a kind of human-scale resistance fighter, living with terrible memories. In a universal story of extraordinary, contagious belief Mary is a skeptic.  She regards the apostles who come to interview her — she’s a prize first-hand witness for the gospels they’re writing — as guards not guardians. They’re cultists, in her view; they’re creating stories, mythologies, a new religion, and they have an agenda. What they need from her is compliance…In her watchful, quietly fierce performance Turner makes us see the human cost of great earth-changing events.
Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
See full review here

Schmidt is certainly the director for this show. In a bold move, he sets his performer behind a net of small lights, which could have distanced the audience from the emotions on display – but surprisingly doesn’t, keeping Mary present but removed at the same time. The set is spare but vaguely Eastern. Adam Tsuyoshi Turnbull’s lighting is a big assist as the performer moves between areas of precise lighting. At times the lights go down as the actress approaches closely to the audience to address us intimately in the semi-darkness.

The play has been protested in the streets elsewhere – and someone ripped down all of Northern Light’s posters in Edmonton – but I can’t see why. The story of the Christ is spun in many directions already in the Bible and elsewhere. This is a valid, intelligent and moving variation. This is not the venerated, serene Mary of your youth who was seen as providing an intercession with her divine son but a real person, whose suffering forces us to rethink the Greatest Story Ever Told.
Colin MacLean, Gigcity.ca
See full review here

Saw Testament of Mary at Northern Light Theatre last night. It is a strikingly beautiful play to watch, particularly because of how Trevor Schmidt's Set and Costumes are lit by Adam Tsuyoshi Turnbull's lighting. This is not the cool, mild Mary portrayed in the New Testament but one that simmers beneath the surface so perhaps it is also appropriate that Holly Turner, who plays Mary fiercely and intelligently, is dressed in warm reds instead of the cool blues we often associate with the Virgin Mother. It's a fascinating imagining of Mary'In The Testament of Mary, we meet a Mary whose son (she can't use his name) died years ago and, in the small house where she's more a prisoner than a guest, she relives the years and hours before his death over and over again. The thing is she knows he is her son – not the son of God. She knows if he did raise Lazarus from the dead (which she deeply feels it was not his place to do), it was not as someone who was truly living. She believes additional jugs of wine were found at the wedding in Cana, not that her son turned water into wine.

You can see why The Testament of Mary can be considered controversial.

It is personal, emotional, resistance to what happened to her son (who she refuses to name) and to how she feels used in the narrative that is being constructed around his miracles, death and resurrection.
Kristen Finlay, Finster Finds
See full review here


DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME

PREVIEWS

Death. Blood. Dark mysteries laced with eerie hints of the supernatural. A smudgy frontier between waking and dreaming, the ambiguous nature of reality, black comedy of the shivery sort…. This is Cat Walsh's native habitat as a playwright.

Naturally, she's attracted to the Church — as you'll see in Do This In Memory Of Me, the new Walsh premiering tonight in English and Friday in French, a joint commission by Northern Light Theatre and L'UniThéâtre.

Her protagonist, 12-year-old Geneviève, is desperate to be an altar server. And altar servers are a boys-only elite, even though, hey, it's 1963, it's Montreal, and the old rule-bound world is rotating on its axis, starting to fling off ancient proscriptions.
Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
See full preview here

REVIEWS

Do This in Memory of Me is a poignant look at the time of life when children become aware that adults actually don’t have all the answers… Do This in Memory of Me is a particularly special piece because of its bilingual performance schedule made possible by translator Manon Beaudoin....”
Liane Faulder - Edmonton Journal
See full review here

As a plucky, curious, quick-thinker of a kid, Nicole St. Martin is winsome. As the breezy Martin, never seen without a hockey stick in hand, Jodoin is very funny. And Dooley turns in detailed performances on the obverse sides of the paternal coin: the sad, struggling father and the change-resistant old Father. Geneviève’s dad is a particularly touching portrait of a man who can feel his credibility, and authority, slipping away.  Life is mysterious. The great big world, with its connections to the invisible, is full of proof of that. What you lose in certainty, you gain in possibility. And the crazy beauty of that thought is where the play and this playful production come together.”
Liz Nicholls - 12th Night

See full review here

Director Trevor Schmidt’s set is a bench and a very large drape that covers the entire back end of the theatre with a couple of doors on either side. Not much of a set is the feeling but never underestimate Schmidt when it comes to set design. The drape turns into a huge screen on which the director, and multimedia designer Matt Schuurman, project an amazing series of animated and often comic images that take you from outer space to the bottom of a local pond. There is also a chilling visit from some death-masked nuns who snake across the sky, clattering as they pass.  It is hard not to immediately notice Darrin Hagen’s music and sound design. Enveloping and macabre, it promises much to come....

It is pleasant, often droll entertainment put together by some real theatrical pros. St. Martin is a winning adolescent and the actor plays her with spirit and verve. Jodoin is sparky and lively (and, yes, as Genevieve observes, “annoying”) as the hockey-mad Martin. Dooley is a local treasure. His father is a solid, sad man who can’t understand why his life, the simple kind of life his family has always lived, is now falling apart. Hisintimate scenes with St. Martin are wonderful in their poignancy and affection. And his aged cleric, Father Paul, in this fine actor’s hands, is a character familiar to anyone who has spent much time in Quebec. He’s forever caught in 2000 years of church misogyny....You may come away not quite sure what the play is trying to say but the journey has indeed been sweet but with an edge.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here


SLUT

REVIEWS

S.L.U.T. The funniest set design of the season — and the only one (to my knowledge) that actually engages in smart-ass repartee with the character onstage — Matilda, a wide-eyed Candide in the field of social attitudes apparently, discovers it in the course of the play in which she channels all the characters in her story. Matilda’s stage partner, the light-up SLUT sign, steps brazenly up to it and undermines her confidence.  Slut, which premiered at the Toronto Fringe in 2000, long before the #MeToo reveals of our time, is amusing in its premise and refreshing in its insights.
Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
See full preview here

Matilda – played with a surprising innocence and an effervescent spirit by Michelle Todd – is a young lady given to the pleasures of the flesh… The ingenious use of the impudent SLUT sign is a hilarious (and often ironic) commentary on her efforts to explain her behaviour. Each assignation she breathlessly outlines causes the sign to flash with the simple commentary: SLUT…Todd, with her rebellious afro punctuated by some jaunty white flowers and contagious exuberance, is marvelous throughout. Playing all the characters, switching accents and attitudes instantaneously and with a complete lack of cynicism or shame, she is an excellent spokesperson for the idea that sex is, indeed, ‘a gift from a beneficent universe’
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here

Trevor Schmidt’s set design of big block letters reading SLUT lit up by flashing light bulbs might be my favourite set design of the season, if for no other reason than how it confronts the audience – it’s clear this play leaves no room to hide. I also really enjoyed the contrast of the Slut set design with the set design of Northern Light Theatre’s season opener The Testament of Mary, which used light and string to separate the audience from the performer. As NLT’s season has progressed, there is less and less for the characters – and the audience – to hide behind. Beth Dart’s lighting design complements Trevor’s set design perfectly, adding directionality and depth to the set and in some sense acting as a stand-in for the characters that Mathilda portrays...SLUT comes at a time when the struggle over who has power over a woman’s body has never been louder....Michelle Todd plays an interesting mix of the ingénue and the vamp. She’s sweet, a little naïve, and has a problem with wanting people to like her. But, she’s also proud of her sexuality and doesn’t hesitate to lash out and yell when she feels her point isn’t getting across. Michelle marries these two archetypes into a character who you want nothing more than to be her best friend (and bail her out of jail!). In doing so, Michelle perfectly embodies the tightrope the modern woman must walk: don’t be too sexual or you’ll be labelled a whore; don’t be too virginal or you’ll be labelled a prude.
Jenna Marnowski - After The House Lights

See full review here



SECRETS, ANXIETY, AND UNTIMELY DEATH
2016-2017

SISTER SISTER

As per Schmidt’s striking design they seem to have grown up in a vertical Astroturf tube — with hanging balloon lights and two childhood portraits, one smiling, one frowning. And the bilious lighting by Adam Tsuyoshi Turnbull is witty too…This stylish and judiciously calibrated production shapes the experience of the play as declension from very stylized clown performances into characters, with (some) dimensions and individuality. As the sister who was shackled to their mother on the shortest chain — who now, amusingly, works as a “relay communication expert” at a call centre — Lambert puts her considerable command of refinements in comic timing to very good use. And Rombough, as the more brittle and panicky sister, flails around her at high speed. Their chemistry is what makes Sister Sister work.
Liz Nicholls - Edmonton Journal
See full review here

Northern Light Theatre is often way out there on the edge.  Under the adventurous guidance of its artistic director Trevor Schmidt, it has become Edmonton’s most challenging theatre company – constantly probing human relationships and demanding intelligence, commitment and an open mind.  It hasn’t always worked but mostly it has- winning awards and giving us memorable evenings.  Schmidt must spend many hours pouring over alt-theatre plays from all over the world each year and his productions are carefully chosen to feed his theatre’s unique vision… What an acting duel these two fine actresses give us – dipping, with probing intensity, into the primal forces that shape a family – even one as askew as this.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here

When it comes to Northern Light Theatre’s mandate of dark and provocative productions that challenge audiences, Sister Sister delivers and satisfies.

Beyond the powerful delivery of the actresses, the stage production deserves major credit for setting the dark mood. Floor lighting bathes every nook of the carpet and wall textures in spooky light. The gently shifting glare of the overhead lights illuminate everything from the fur on Dirdra’s jacket, to the flares of Janice’s bell-bottoms. No iota of space on the minimalist but effective set goes unused. The design effectively rips the audience back to the late 20th century, when CRT TVs anchored living rooms, square plastic rimmed glasses framed faces sporting bob cuts, and lace doilies decorated the top of every chesterfield…With characters that are at once horrifying and demanding of sympathy, Sister Sister challenges the audience to see elements of their own relationships that may appear within the show, however scary that may be. It’s not a comfortable experience, but it’s one well worth having.
Kevin Pennyfeather – VUE Weekly
See full review here 


ANXIETY

The novelty of being embedded in a theatrical experience up close in unconventional spaces is carried to unnerving lengths here. In nearly every case, the 10-minute duration of the installations seems longer than it is; you’re relieved to escape
Liz Nicholls – Edmonton Journal
See full review here

With companies are from Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Regina, Edmonton and Victoria, the troupes were to create something with a live performance or an instillation to be staged with a maximum of two actors – a short play, an experience, an immersive event that would be presented in a series of different locations…

The cast is large and the small rooms may be primitive but it all works well and the sense of dread and disquiet is ably maintained. Local playwright Cat Walsh has provided the connective tissue which includes some kind of thing (primal animal? Jason? The demon Pazuzu? Runaway computer?) that generates a lot of smoke, loud noise and bright light while threatening to break down the door and attack us all. Thank goodness it didn’t. At least, it didn’t on the night we were there. Talk about anxiety.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here


BONNIE & CLYDE, THE TWO PERSON, SIX GUN MUSICAL

Ride or Die - Vue Weekly Cover

There is much to love in Bonnie & Clyde: the Two Person, Six-Gun Musical, which closes out Northern Light Theatre’s 2016/2017 season. After incubating for about a decade in the mind of Director Trevor Schmidt …We know how it’s going to end, but the beauty of the play is in watching the tragic formation and growth of a relationship we know is doomed from the start. The play positions the two characters as damaged people who don’t just want but need each other to go on.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here

Schmidt’s playful stagecraft conjures getaway cars from headlights, bucolic escapades from picnic blankets, narrow escapes into the blue shadowy glow behind the slats where we see them as silhouettes. They can run but they cannot hide. Tsuyoshi Turnbull’s lighting, which plays in a palette ranging from historical sepia to historical inevitability blue, is a veritable storyteller in itself...  The co-stars of the Northern Light production, Amanda Neufeld and Matthew Lindholm, are appealing, powerhouse performers, who know exactly what to do with the power ballads that are Bonnie & Clyde’s version of soliloquies…So, can you tell a behind-the-history story, with two actors and a roster of power ballads that all sound pretty much interchangeable? Well, yes you can — if the actors have pipes and charisma and the director is savvy. Be impressed by the pipes, the charisma, the savvy that have gone into this production. 
Liz Nicholls -12night.ca
See full review here

Both Lindholm and the clarion-voiced Amanda Neufeld are dynamic performers who create two real people and don’t seem inhibited by the iconic stature of the characters they play…  Schmidt’s ingenious and effective set has B & C’s car built above Nicholas Samoil’s expressive upright piano.  To the left and right are two small areas that fill in for the businesses the two stuck up.  On a high screen above, well chosen ‘30’s headlines spell the story that unfolds below them.  At times the lovers act out scenes and songs.  At others they approach the mics and sign directly into them as in a concert.  At one point when the two unleash a series of gun fuelled robberies, Schmidt dramatically stages them in a electrifying tableau.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here



A Celebration of 40 Years
2015-2016

THE GOOD BRIDE

The story of the heroine, trapped in a gingham prison without even a cellphone for comfort, is a complex funny/sad affair, horrifying and touching. Not least because it introduces to the Edmonton theatre scene Arielle Rombough, a luminous young actor who makes something both scary and funny of Maranatha’s fateful journey of self-discovery.  The Good Bridge is built on questions of belief, straining at the gussets. And speaking of belief, Rombough’s tour de force comic performance is believable at every turn. The momentum of coming-of-age is the way belief gradually gives way to the question of authority.
Liz Nicholls - Edmonton Journal
See full review here

Rosemary Rowe’s The Good Bride is among the most sharp, funny scripts about faith you’re likely to find: as a critique of a belief system it’s skillful, aimed not at the believer but the power and gender dynamics it justifies, and of a teenager’s uncertainty in the face of adulthood’s mysteries
Paul Blinov – Vue Weekly
See full review here

Northern Light Theatre is often way out there on the edge.  Under the adventurous guidance of its artistic director Trevor Schmidt, it has become Edmonton’s most challenging theatre company – constantly probing human relationships and demanding intelligence, commitment and an open mind.  It hasn’t always worked, but mostly it has – winning awards and giving us some memorable evenings.  Schmidt must spend many hours pouring over alt0theatre plays from all over the world each year and his productions are carefully chosen to feed his theatre’s unique vision.  What an acting duel these two fine actresses give us – dipping, with probing intensity, into the primal forces that shape a family – even one as askew as this.  Not to forget that the production is billed as a dark comedy, director and cast manage to find some solid nuggets of humour in the midst of all that pain and angst.
Colin MacLean – Gig City
See full review here

It’s interesting to come across a play that is as perfectly balanced as Rosemary Rowe’s The Good Bride, presented by Northern Light Theatre and playing at the PCL Studio until October 24. Not that I really expect to see soapbox-type shows in Edmonton, but most plays on a particular topic end up coming down on one side or the other as the play reaches its closing. Not so with The Good Bride, and that’s what makes this show so interesting.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here


FLORA & FAWNA’S FIELD TRIP! WITH FLEURETTE

But the NaturElle girls are nothing if not dexterous and sneaky. They start with the sight gag of themselves, and they arrive at something that’s good-natured, funny and heartwarming. And, amazingly, they do it via audience participation, and the old joke of guileless amateurs struggling valiantly to be pros onstage, remember their cues, and overcome panic as things inevitably go wrong.
Liz Nicholls – Edmonton Journal
See full review here

Flora and Fawna are not like other little girls (neither is Fleurette – who speaks French) and at the end of this engaging 60 minutes there is a serious and quite touching plea for understanding and acceptance.  Fleurette comes forward and tells a poignant sotry of how the “mean girls” pulled a trick and abandoned the three of them in the forests.  So they went out and created their own club that includes everyone – especially those who are “different”.
Colin MacLean – Edmonton Sun
See full review here

Fawna and Flora say some of the raunchiest things soaked in innuendo, but because Hagen and Schmidt have convinced us they are children we assume they don’t actually know how risque they’re being.  Of course the joke is on us because you just have to look at Hagen’s withering looks or Schmidt’s mischievous grin to know how easily they are manipulating us. The true genius of Flora & Fawna’s Field Trip is that it can have you howling and guffawing and then, on the turn of a dime, bring a lump to your throat when Fawna bares her soul about her tragic family life.
Louis B. Hobson – Calgary Herald
See full review here


THE PASSION OF NARCISSE MONDOUX

It’s a tricky thing to animate, without mocking, this kind of dated comic material, designed expressly to elicit charming performances and not much else. Schmidt’s production — he’s both director and designer — goes for light and playfully tweaked in its acknowledgment of comedy clichés…The theatrical forces that Schmidt’s production assembles are considerable, his own contributions included.
Liz Nicholls - Edmonton Journal
See full review here

If there’s something to be gained in blowing the dust off the script like this, it’s that ultimately, this production makes The Passion of Narcisse Mondoux as much a redemption of a small-minded love-fool as it is a sunset-years romance. He blusters out his ideas while she sits, listening, then neatly undercuts them with rational precision, bringing him around to a new way of thinking. “It’s more than I deserve,” he offers late in the play, and, honestly, by modern standards, he’s probably right. But it’s to the credit of this co-production between Northern Light Theatre and L’Uni that the change feels earned, the source material elevated by the production’s approach.
Paul Blinov – Vue Weekly
See full review here


WISH

There’s a line early on in the play that stuck with me throughout, which is based on Peter Goldsworthy’s book of the same name and adapted for the stage by Humphrey Bower: ‘the needs of the individual outweigh the needs of the species’. And a lightbulb came on in my brain: that’s exactly the opposite of how we treat animals. We use and exploit animals for our benefit, without regard for the effect on the individual. Science (like Spock) is all about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few. And Wish is not about the needs of the many – it’s about two beings and the universal desire for love and connection. In many ways, Wish is at the uncomfortable intersection of the heart and the brain – emotions and reason.

In Wish, we see the title character feel both emotional and physical pain. We see her love. We see her remember. We see her communicate. And so, when J.J. rejects her advances and Wish asks why she and J.J. can’t have sex, she’s not just asking J.J., she’s asking the entire audience and in that moment, where the line between human and animal is blurred, it’s difficult to find the right answer. ‘Because you’re a gorilla’ seems too simple and begs the a flurry of questions. What is a gorilla? What are the things that separate them different than humans? Can animals give consent? How can we agree on some laws that protect animals while allowing experimentation on them (within certain parameters, but the experiments cited in the play and the information I found after the show still sound like torture to me)? The play is certainly not advocating for bestiality, but it’s putting it in sharp relief against the other ways we use and treat animals. And that’s an uncomfortable position to be in.  It’s guaranteed Wish will leave you with a lot of questions, and though it’s an uncomfortable play to watch and react to, it’s a must-see as Edmonton’s theatre season starts winding down.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here

In Trevor Schmidt’s production, on an eerily dark stage — bare save for a knotted rope and a swinging tire — virtuoso performances from Christopher Schulz and the eloquently physical dancer/choreographer Ainsley Hillyard include the graceful sign language choreography of their hands.  There is nothing easy about the actor assignments here. Schulz plays every human in Wish, in a fluent language that is both verbal and signed. And he individualizes them all, even his mom and dad with their odd voices, without glamorizing our misfit hero. The magnetic Hillyard is remarkable to watch as she conjures the ape — curious, playful, powerful, sensually alert. The word soulful does not go amiss.
Liz Nicholls - Edmonton Journal
See full review here



Boy/Girl//Girl/Boy
2014-2015

SPACE//SPACE                 

"I don't know how you find these scripts, but if you made a deal with the devil, keep dealing with him. NLT is so innovative. I love that with each show you can take what you want from it. They aren't super preachy with a message, but not so Avant Gard that you are lost and saying WTF."
NLT Patron

Seldom does a play come along that is so passionately, thoroughly, unapologetically weird. That single word sums up the first (and possibly second) impression of Northern Light Theatre’s season opener, Jason Craig’s gender-bending space odyssey Space // Space…There’s a deep and enduring sense of foreboding that permeates every second of this play, a vague but inescapable dread that is inevitably confirmed in a bracing reveal.
Mel Priestley – VUE Weekly
See full review here

I don’t get it. But as in so many of Northern Light’s productions, take this play to a bar afterward, and discuss.
Liz Nicholls – Edmonton Journal
See full review here

Northern Light Theatre has a reputation as a little company that does big things. Among Edmonton’s theatre companies, they’re one of the ones that’s dedicated to performing the challenging and controversial pieces that bigger theatres can’t or won’t put on their stages… I was quite affected by the ads and television shows from the 50s or 60s Penryn and Lumos would watch as part of a way to keep themselves occupied, and how that related to the changing relations between the two brothers as Penryn’s body becomes more and more feminine… The juxtaposition between the sibling interaction and the videos made me reflect on the development of a society. Regardless of how we raise our children  – who are blank slates for us to impress ideas on – they’re subject to all the media that has accumulated throughout the ages with these predetermined ideas of how individuals should interact and relate to one another. In the case of Space//Space, the topic of exploration happens to be gender relations, but this could be relations between any individuals who are somehow “different” from one another.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here


THE PINK UNICORN

...any outline of the story in a short review can't possibly give you the richness and depth of Edie's play, Trevor Schmidt's sympathetic production and Lambert's compelling performance… Her Trisha thinks of herself as "dumb," and sometimes she can't find the right words but in the final moments the words are there and the actress will bring tears to your eyes. Five stars
Colin MacLean - Edmonton Sun
See full review here

This is a play for every parent and child.  If my son were a couple years older I would take him. In fact, I think everyone with a child 15+ should think about taking them to it. It's for the parent who couldn't understand their child as they grew and the child who didn't realize what their parent was going through.  And I don't just mean parents of gay or gender queer children, it's for every parent because your children are going to be who they are and you can't control that, but you can accept them regardless of what they turn out to be. 

I highly recommend.
Finster Finds Blog
See full review here

...in The Pink Unicorn, and much to her chagrin, Trisha Lee finds herself on the dividing edge of LGBTQ issues when her daughter cuts off her hair, comes out as genderqueer and attempts to form a GSA at the high school. Mother ends up stuck between the church-going crowd she’s always happily been a part of and her daughter’s explorations of a spectrum she didn’t even know existed, much less understands.
Paul Blinov – VUE Weekly
See full review here

I love everything about Elise Forier Edie's script and the way one-woman powerhouse Louise Lambert performed it.
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here

It is an impressive solo performance of a good script, it is a story of contemporary queer lives that has a happy ending, it is a celebration of family love and personal growth that are not in contradiction, it is enjoyable for people who are familiar with LGBTQ issues and those who are not, and it is a valuable discussion-starter that has had me thinking ever since.
Ephemeral Pleasures Blog

See full review here


CHRISTINA/PHILIPPE

“It was, as I said, fascinating. If one of the goals of theatre is to provoke discussion, this one certainly does.”
Kristen Finlay - Finster Finds Blog
See full review here

“It’s safe to say that Northern Light Theatre’s production of Christina~Philippe really opened my mind in a huge way to the ways gender is ingrained and internalized. There’s a lot of theatre on in Edmonton right now, but it’s a show that everyone should take the time to see.”
Jenna Marynowski - After The House Lights Blog
See full review here

Christina / Philippe is capable of splitting into comment and conversation about itself when need be, as well as drawing on supplemental content: we hear myriad interview excerpts of people discussing gender, from epiphanies they had about their own identity to moments when they realized how rigidly (and falsely) the world categorizes it…Christina / Philippe stands as one of the most curious theatrical exercises you could see, and a deft overview of a vital conversation. It doesn’t aim to find a definitive answer to how we define gender, or why; instead, it lets you contextualize the question, in doing so showing how rich and varied the answers can be.
Paul Blinov – VUE Weekly
See full review here

In Schmidt’s Northern Light season finale, we see the two (Schmidt as Philippe and Hansen as Christina), dressed exquisitely, and set into an Adam Tsuyoshi Turnbull set that looks like a jewelled open music box, overhung with a chandelier.   He embodies the stereotype feminine traits; he’s evasive, vulnerable, easily wounded. She’s a stereotype male, which is to say, aggressive, bold, decisive.  Against these classic poses, a fascinating soundscape of recorded interview clips plays: comments about gender identity and roles from a variety of contemporary sources, including transgender people and cross-dressers, talking about their experiences growing up.  It’s an intriguing experiment in how to mine a flat play to make something more contemporary, more theatrical and more dimensional.
Liz Nicholls – Edmonton Journal
See full review here

SUBSCRIBE TO
OUR E-NEWS!

SUBSCRIBE

SUPPORT
LOCAL THEATRE

DONATE DIRECTLY
TO NLT

OR

Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!