Sunday, July 19, 2009

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Les Miserable Old Guys

On the surface, the only thing elderly neighbours Charlie and Eddie have in common is a backyard fence.

Something of a rake in his younger years, Charlie is a gentle soul who stops to smell the roses. Eddie is a grouch with a garbage problem.

But don’t worry, this comedy from Toronto playwright-actor Rex Deverell is not another odd couple. Charlie (Deverell) and Eddie’s (Winnipeg stage veteran Harry Nelken) relationship is based only on proximity, a missing shovel and buried resentments that surface during a chance over-the-fence conversation.

A long-held secret is exposed amid the comic-poignant bluster that follows. Nelken gets the lion’s share of the laughs as Eddie rails against local gossips, recalls the happiest moment of his miserable life and continually gripes about those darn dogs and his purloined shovel.

But Deverell gets the last, best laugh with a silent punchline. The expression on Charlie’s face in the final moment of the play is a sublime revelation.

— Pat St. Germain

Les Miserable Old Guys

Last Updated: 18th July 2009, 5:26pm
You'd better be sure to plan carefully to see this gem.
There was a full house of very appreciative patrons on just the second afternoon of the Fringe. Only one of these old guys is miserable; and, man, Ed has curmudgeon down to an art form! His more mellow neighbour, Charlie, tells him that Ed's late wife Alma thought him "the unhappiest man in the world!"
Charlie finds magical moments in the mundane while Ed lives "a life of pure irritation and annoyance." This contrast of temperaments between two men who have lived next door to each other almost their whole lives is absolutely hilarious! It is not a comedy throughout, as a secret emerges that causes the two old men to expose their hearts to each other in a deeply touching way. Plus a surprise ending! Superb theatre.
Lisa Campbell
The Jenny Review)

4.5 stars from 107.1 FM.

Les Miserable Old Guys (Venue 2) by Rex Deverell

Brilliant! Admittedly I had incredibly high expectations and was concerned that because of this it would end up being like Spiderman 3.... dead to me. But Rex Deverell and Harry Nelken took the entire room (which was ironically packed with seniors) from gut-wrenching laughter to somber silent reflection and back again. It was played to perfection, and the one word review is worth repeating twice.. brilliant!

Possible objectional words/phrases: 4

Who should see this show?

If you like the movie Grumpy Old Men, you'll love Les Miserable Old Guys.

Les Miserable Old Guys

Venue 2, MTC Up the Alley

They may be miserable, but not for long.

Charlie (Rex Deverell) and Eddie (Harry Nelken) are two lonely, aging seniors who seem to share just about everything — from shovels and coffee to Eddie’s deceased wife Elma. Separated by an incredibly short fence, eternal optimist Charlie is the only one to provide comfort and companionship to pessimist Eddie as he tries to come to terms with Elma’s death.

This wonderfully written play by Deverell explores the depth of human relationships. Directed by Stefanie Wiens, Deverell and Nelken give flawless performances that make you think about how you’re going to be at that age. But don’t worry — Les Miserable Old Guys also provides more than enough laughs to keep you from being miserable.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll even shorten your fence to talk to your neighbour afterward.

The Winnipeg Sun Rating: 4 out of 5

CBC Review:

Meet Eddie and Charlie: a latter day odd couple doing a little yard work in their respective gardens.

Eddie hates music, the neighbourhood dogs, and – one suspects – kittens and rainbows. He’s mercurial, stubborn and delights in the misfortunes of others.

Charlie, on the other hand, is a man with music in his soul. An utter romantic, he stops and listens to the birds, whereas Eddie can only fixate on the rotting pile of compost and his missing shovel.

Wisely, Charlie points out that on this particular day Eddie’s problem isn’t an AWOL garden implement, but Alma.

A fence, it soon turns out, isn’t the only thing separating these men. Each had a special relationship to Eddie’s late wife. Eddie took Alma for granted while Charlie, a bachelor, loved her from afar. Eddie eventually accuses Charlie of having an affair with Alma.

As the two attempt the negotiate this rough patch of jealousy and suspicion it becomes clear that they are bound together in grief: a couple of "frenemies" whose interactions run the gamut from tender and thoughtful to caustic, cantankerous and laugh-out-loud funny.

Rex Deverell’s script is clever and nuanced with a Corner Gas kind of folksiness. The actors deliver solid performances donning these characters like a pair of comfortable well-worn shoes.

Despite this strong command of the craft, the show still feels a little longish… probably because it is more fun to play a miserable old guy than to watch one for 45 minutes.

3 Stars

Reviewed by: Katie Nicholson

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rita's Latest Show !!!



Canadian Documentary Premiere on OMNI.1

Portuguese language version – Saturday, March 21st at 10PM ET
English language version – Sunday, March 22nd at 8:30PM ET

Toronto, ON (March 9, 2009) - Rogers OMNI is proud to present the world television premiere of the thought-provoking docu-drama Not A Drop to help mark International Day For the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The 60 minute documentary launches to Portuguese speaking audiences on OMNI.1, Saturday, March 21st at 10:00p.m. English language viewers are invited to tune to OMNI.1 on Sunday, March 22nd at 8:30 p.m.

From veteran broadcaster Rita Shelton Deverell, Not A Drop is set in a fictionalized University Diversity Journalism Class and based on real events. Dramatic scenes for Not A Drop were shot on the Centennial@Wallace soundstage.

“OMNI is pleased to air Not a Drop in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,” says Madeline Ziniak, national vice president of OMNI. “Rita’s production brings to light a serious clash between environmental and native community issues, set against a backdrop of perspectives drawn from her experience in Aboriginal and faith-based television and work with grassroots community organizations.”

When students of diverse backgrounds -- Japanese-Chinese (Hiromi Okuyama); Caucasian (Alexandra Pope), and Afro-Canadian (Jeremy McDonald) -- claim they are already “diverse enough,” their professor, a Black, former U.S. southerner (played by Stefanie Samuels) and an Aboriginal Activist (Pamela Matthews of One Dead Indian) take up the challenge and assign the class to report on the Walpole Island First Nation, located in what the locals in Windsor, Sarnia, and Detroit call “Chemical Valley.”

“"The people of the Walpole Island First Nation feel they represent all those communities who have not yet been able to say ‘No’ to the toxic living conditions some industries create,” says Rita Deverell, producer/director of Not a Drop. “My message with Not a Drop is that while we as journalists can be serious whistle blowers, taking action isn’t always part of the story – and I am deeply grateful to OMNI for their support in helping focus attention on this particular story, in hopes that real life action will be taken.”

The result of Not a Drop is that its characters – as well as its viewers – are provided with a first-hand learning experience about the deeply troubling issues of so-called “disposable peoples” in North America.

Not A Drop was exclusively funded through OMNI's Independent Producers Initiative, a $32.5 million independent production fund that to date has supported over 200 new documentary programmes. Interested producers can access funding criteria at OMNI Television’s web site .
About Rogers OMNI
Rogers OMNI is a free, over-the-air multilingual/multicultural television system made up of five regional broadcasters serving nine major markets across Canada: in BC (Vancouver and Victoria); Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton), and in Ontario (Ottawa-Gatineau, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area) via flagship stations OMNI.1 and OMNI.2. All Rogers OMNI stations share the collective mandate to reflect Canada’s diversity through the airing of inclusive and accessible programming, and are part of Rogers Media Inc., a division of Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX: RCI and NYSE: RCI) which is a diversified Canadian communications and media company. In addition to specializing in Canadian multilingual/multicultural programming, OMNI carries well-known American and International series and films – including a station-wide schedule of East Asian Super Cinema and South Asian Bollywood Freetime Movies.

About Rita Shelton Deverell
Producer/Director of Not a Drop, Rita Shelton Deverell is the first Storyteller-in-Residence at the School of Communications, Media and Design at Centennial College. She’s a veteran broadcaster (CBC, Vision TV & APTN), theatre artist, Journalism Professor, who has been honoured for her work with the Order of Canada. Other honours she has received include: Maclean's Honour Roll of Outstanding Canadians; Canadian Black Achievement Award; Media Watch's Dodi Robb Award and inductee, Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

To secure a screening copy of Not A Drop, photos for print or to interview anyone associated with its production please contact:

OMNI Media Contact:
Sandy Zwyer – Programme Information Coordinator, 416-260-3590
Koreen Ott – Director, Marketing and Public Relations, 416-764-3250