The Great War Revisited

Oct 28th, 2018 Books & Literature, Theatre, Welcome Message Rob Reid 8 min read

This book is not about heroes. English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion or power, except War. Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation…


Blyth Festival: Doesn’t get any more Canadian, eh!

Jul 13th, 2018 Theatre Rob Reid 9 min read

When I returned from my initial trip to Blyth this season, I texted my friend with a short quip: “Saw plays about pig farming and curling. How Canadian is that, eh!” Although the text was accurate, it didn’t reflect my true feelings about the festival I’ve been writing about and reviewing since 1984—a year more than half of my life. Although I’ve been retired from newspaper…


The Salesman Forever Travelling

Oct 23rd, 2017 Theatre Rob Reid 4 min read

Norrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm! The one-word welcome is imbedded in the collective memory of a generation of television viewers. It was directed at the sad-sack tippler who planted his sardonic frame on the southeast corner of the square bar around which the hit TV show Cheers was built. Although Norm had a last name — Peterson — he really didn’t need one. Whether or not we recognized it,…


Pigeon King Takes Flight

Aug 24th, 2017 Theatre Rob Reid 2 min read

Who would think that a musical drama about a ponzi scheme would be so entertaining? But that’s exactly what the Blyth Festival has with the world premiere of The Pigeon King. Its most surprising production of the season continues through September 23. The musical drama centres on Arlan Galbraith, the self-proclaimed Pigeon King who was convicted of fraud after bilking hundreds of rural investors in…


Ipperwash Unveiled

Aug 23rd, 2017 Theatre Rob Reid 3 min read

When I was growing up in London, Ontario during the 1950s and ’60s, Ipperwash was an Ontario Provincial Park where I went camping every summer with my best friend and his parents. It was adjacent to Camp Ipperwash, where the Canadian army trained cadets. My parents built a winterized cottage at Ipperwash in the ’70s. Consequently, I thought I knew Ipperwash pretty well. Wrong.  Like…


Living the Berlin Blues

Jul 10th, 2017 Theatre Rob Reid 4 min read

I count myself among Canadians who are collectively blowing out 150 candles in celebration of the sesquicentennial of Confederation. I also count myself among Canadians who want reconciliation with First Nations peoples to continue during this significant anniversary. We cannot wait another 150 years. As a starting point, I would like two national disgraces addressed once and for all. First, we must solve the mystery…


Sweetest Music this Side of Blyth

Jul 10th, 2017 Theatre Rob Reid 6 min read

I’m old enough to remember Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians bringing in the New Year from glitzy New York City. It was an annual ritual in our family every year — as it was for millions of people around the world for half a century, beginning with America’s first nationwide New Year’s Eve radio broadcast in 1929. When I was young, I watched the…

Tom Thomson Statue in Huntsville

Tom As Rock Star

Jun 19th, 2017 Books & Literature, Film & Cinema, Music, Theatre, Tom Thomson, Visual Arts Rob Reid 55 min read

Tom Thomson went missing on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on July 8, 1917. His body was recovered on July 16, 1917. To commemorate the centenary of the death of one of Canada’s great national icons, I am posting a blog each day throughout these days of mystery devoted to aspects of the painter’s life, art and legacy. The fifth instalment, Tom As Rock Star, takes…


Colours in the Key of Tom

Apr 29th, 2017 Music, Theatre, Tom Thomson, Visual Arts Rob Reid 7 min read

Tom Thomson went missing on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on July 8, 1917. His body was recovered on July 16, 1917. To commemorate the centenary of the death of one of Canada’s great national icons, I am posting a blog each day throughout those days of mystery devoted to aspects of the painter’s life, art and legacy. The third instalment in the series is an…


Modern Man in Search of a Soul

Aug 30th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

STRATFORD — The late Robertson Davies once observed that Canada’s two greatest writers were Anton Chekhov and Henrik Ibsen because both reflected a Northern sensibility. Symbolically speaking Davies was right on the mark — or so I believe. How you interpret the Stratford Festival production of John Gabriel Borkman at the Tom Patterson Theatre determines the depth of your appreciation. It’s often stated that Ibsen’s…


More Fun Than an Emollient Exemplum

Aug 25th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

With friends like this, who needs enemas?      — as spoken by Beralde, brother of the hypochondriac Argan STRATFORD — This might come as a shock to those reared on Hollywood film and television, but the penis and pissing, not to mention the rectum and defecating, penetrated comedy long before Animal House and Family Guy. These were common targets of low fun in the…

GilGarratt as RobertDonnelly

Truth is Stranger Than Drama at Blyth

Aug 12th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 10 min read

We must never take words for granted. There’s no such thing as happy endings; something always comes after. — Peg Dunlop BLYTH — The last two of four world premieres at the Blyth Festival have sent me barrelling down memory lane in a literary roadster. If Truth Be Told and The Last Donnelly Standing take me back to when I was introduced to Canadian arts…


Breathing Life into a Trio of Dramatic Kings

Jul 13th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

Four lagging winters and four wanton springs end in a word: such is the breath of kings — Richard II STRATFORD — Graham Abbey is a true child of Stratford. Not only has he been a member of the festival company over 18 seasons, he’s Stratford-bred. This season he adds the credentials of dramatic adapter and associate director to his diverse acting credits. Abbey has edited…


Portrait of Madness, Evil & the Supernatural in a Nightmare World

Jul 8th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

Blood will have blood — Macbeth STRATFORD — Macbeth is the most terrifying Shakespearian tragedy because of its portrait of madness, evil and the supernatural — all of which manifest themselves as reality rather than as metaphor, sign or symbol. Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino has constructed his production — a season highlight continuing through October 23 at the Festival Theatre — on the…


Seeing a World in a Grain of Huron County Sand

Jun 30th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 8 min read

To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour — Auguries of Innocence by William Blake BLYTH — In his sophomore season at the helm of the Blyth Festival, artistic director Gil Garratt is staging a quartet of world premieres that tell stories harvested from…


Send in the Clowns

Jun 23rd, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 3 min read

STRATFORD — I have loved the beautiful heart-aching ballad Send in the Clowns since Judy Collins recorded it in the 1970s. However, I’m not a big fan of A Little Night Music, Steven Sondheim’s romantic romp of mismatched couples in turn-of-the-century Sweden. Inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 cinematic comedy Smiles of a Summer Night, the musical adaptation is too ‘vaudevillian’ for my tastes. And this despite…


American Dream Transformed into Nightmare

Jun 17th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 4 min read

STRATFORD — Had the term ‘American Dream’ not existed it would of had to be invented for Arthur Miller. In Death of a Salesman, Miller’s 1949 Pulitzer Prize-winner, the disillusioned salesman Willy Loman is destroyed by what he perceives as the dream shared by all Americans. Miller began examining the dream transformed into nightmare two years previously with All My Sons. Although his sophomore play was…


In Love with Shakespeare

Jun 15th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 4 min read

I will have poetry in my life                        — Shakespeare in Love STRATFORD — Romeo and Juliet is not one of my favourite Shakespearean plays. But as I was taking in Shakespeare in Love on a recent evening, I found myself yearning for the tragedy about ‘the pair of star-cross’d lovers.’ It’s no surprise that…



May 19th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 6 min read

Before completing my first shift in the newsroom of the Waterloo Region Record, I was off to Niagara-on-the-Lake to review the opening week of the Shaw Festival. It was late May, 1986. I had just been hired as one of three arts reporters at what was then known as the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. It turned out to be the sixth — and last — newspaper for…


Ballad of Spoon River

Nov 16th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 2 min read

If you think small town America was a kinder, gentler place, simpler and more innocent in the early years of the 20th century, think again. Pick up a copy of Spoon River Anthology. Published in book form in 1915, Edgar Lee Masters’ collection of short, free-verse poems pulls the lid off the collective coffin of a small town in the midwest through a series of…


Registry Theatre Launches 15th Anniversary Season

Sep 15th, 2015 Film & Cinema, Music, Theatre Rob Reid 22 min read

It’s never a wise investment for municipalities to throw good public money after bad private profit. Nonetheless, municipal bureaucrats and politicians are often seduced by big, inefficient operators at the expense of small, efficient, community based groups. It’s amazing how readily gullible politicians, aided and abetted by a misguided bureaucracy, parted with $270,000 of taxpayers’ money to underwrite the Big Music Fest. Mark Higgins, the smooth-talking promoter…


Hands Stained in Blood

Jul 29th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 2 min read

STRATFORD — Thanks to Sigmund Freud, most of us know something about Oedipus. But general knowledge does not prepare us for the searing power of the ancient Greek tragedy on which the Vienna psychiatrist based his famous complex. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is as blunt as a fatal whack across the back of your head. Oedipus, king of Thebes, kills his father and marries his mother, fathering two sons…


Rest in Peace Robin

Jul 27th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 6 min read

I’m deeply saddened by the passing of Robin Phillips, at age 73, after prolonged illness. If the Canadian theatre community is not mourning, it should be. The Stratford Festival should be grieving not only for its former artistic director’s death, but for missed opportunities. After covering the festival continuously since 1984 for two newspapers, one of my greatest regrets remains Phillips not being invited back…


Elle Hitting the Boards

Jul 17th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

I became a Douglas Glover fan in 1983 after reading Precious while working at the Brantford Expositor. Brantford is not far from where the writer was born in Simcoe, Ont. — I worked at the Simcoe Reformer before The Expositor. He was raised on a tobacco farm outside of nearby Waterford. Since then I have eagerly anticipated each new novel or, later, work of non-fiction. He has…

Antoni Cimolino, Executive Director

Stratford Stays the Course with Antoni Cimolino

Jul 14th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 3 min read

STRATFORD — Governing bodies can be the bane of arts institutions. I’ve too often seen meddlesome, mischievous boards of directors or governors cause havoc for the institutions they are supposedly appointed or elected to represent. Boards can be especially hellish for artistic directors. Happily this is not the case at Canada’s venerable classical theatre company — the Stratford Festival. In his third full season as creative head, Antoni Cimolino’s term as…


Theatrical Juggernaut Called Drayton Entertainment

Jul 5th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 6 min read

I remember my first trip to Drayton in the green days of summer, 1991. I had never visited the tiny, nondescript, rural crossroads before. I was not on an agricultural assignment, as one might expect. My mission was to review the inaugural production by a new theatrical venture. Yes, that’s right, a new theatre in, of all places, Drayton! Who would’ve thunk it possible? That first…