Ottawa Theatre Review: Ottawa Little Theatre Presents: Love From a Stranger

On Wednesday, October 25th, I had the opportunity to attend opening night of Ottawa Little Theatre’s production of Love from a Stranger, written by Frank Vosper. Love from a Stranger is based on Agatha Christie’s short story Philomel Cottage and her play The Stranger. In the story, the main character: Cecily Harrington, is swept off her feet by a sweet new man, Bruce Lovell – but is Lovell exactly what he seems?

Photo: Chelsea Fowler

The Venue:

The Ottawa Little Theatre offers paid parking on-site, and still had spaces despite the theater being quite full. There are also multiple public paid lots in the area. If you go in the front doors, there are a set of stairs leading up into the lobby area. The bar is straight ahead on the left, with the doors to the theatre on your right. If you choose the side entrance, it is accessible for wheelchairs and allows you to go straight into the theatre seating-area.

The Ambience:

Decorated with posters showcasing over 100 years of entertainment, the lobby set the tone for an evening of Agatha Christie entertainment. Speakeasy style music filtered throughout the bar area, and we grabbed drinks from the charismatic bartender, Ian. The theatre offers a small selection of red and white wine, bar rail, and a couple of popular beer from Kitchissippi Brewing for $6 each. Coffee, tea, pop, and water can all be purchased for $2. What I particularly liked is that guests were able to pre-order and pre-pay for drinks for intermission! When guests exit the seating area, there is a separate bar where pre-ordered drinks are placed, along with a paper with their name on it. Avoiding the lineup for drinks gave us the opportunity to discuss the show at one of the small high-top tables scattered about the lobby.

The Show:

The play itself is quintessential Agatha Christie: mystery, suspense, and murder; as the audience, you yourself are playing the detective. Interspersed with some hilarious bits from the haughty character Auntie Loo-Loo, portrayed by Ann Scholberg, the plot starts off a little slow but picks up quickly. Viewers will need to pay close attention to the dialogue as this play is more dry humour than physical, and lots of subtle hints are laid along the way. It will keep you guessing until the very end!

Photo: Maria Vartanova

Standout Performances:

Standout performances were given by Erin Chappel and Dan DeMarbre. Erin, who portrayed the snarky and quick-witted Mavis Wilson, was spectacular. Her delivery and comedic timing had me in anticipation every time she appeared on stage. This is Erin’s Ottawa Little Theatre debut and I certainly hope to see more performances from her in the future.

Dan DeMarbre, who portrayed all-American love interest Bruce Lovell, is also very deserving of a shout-out. His character development of Lovell was realistic and gripping, his descent into madness visceral enough to make the audience uncomfortable – in the best way.

Photo: Maria Vartanova

A special mention to Glynis Ellens for the costume design – I especially loved all of Cecily’s beautiful dresses.

Love From a Stranger is running from October 25th through until November 11th. Please check the website for show times and to buy tickets!

Review by: Chelsea Fowler

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