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Both, Geraint and Nigel are currently on stage in Stratford, Ontario, and received excellent reviews.

Geraint Wyn Davies plays Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare and Sir Peter Teazle in The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

A collection of reviews is available here for Twelfth Night and The School for Scandal. The Globe and Mail wrote about School for Scandal that Ger gives one of his most charmingly permeable performances ever.

(Some links are wrong, but if you type the play's name into the newspaper's search box, you'll get there)

Nigel Bennett plays Kadmos in what has been called a jawdropping production of Bakkhai by Euripides and Ted in the novel mystery thriller The Virgin Trial by Kate Hennig. The character he portraits in the latter has been described as deliciously devious...

A collection of reviews is available here for Bakkhai and The Virgin Trial.

Other FK alumni currently appearing at the Stratford Festival are Lucy Peacock (The Human Factor) in Twelfth Night and Bakkhai and Joseph Ziegler (The Code) in Timon of Athens and The School for Scandal.
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Stage:

Geraint Wyn Davies is currently on stage in Liv Stein at the Bluma Apple Theatre, Toronto. The German play by Nino Haratischwili about a world-class concert pianist who gives up her career after her son's death had its English-language premiere last week, runs through Feb 12.

Nigel Bennett is currently on stage in The Audience at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto. The play about the Queen and her prime ministers runs through Feb 26. Nigel plays PM Harold Wilson.

Screen:

Nigel can currently be seen in 3D in the movie xXx3 - The Return of Xander Cage.
I've seen it last night, in 3D, but only in German. It's a brief appearance, but it's nice to see him on the big screen.
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I saw my first 3D movie this week. So far, I've avoided 3D because I wasn't sure if it would work with my eyes and if my stomach would agree with it.

However, Doctor Strange didn't leave me a choice. The 2D version was available only in the German dubbed version, and I definitely wanted to see it in English because of Benedict Cumberbatch's wonderful voice. So I went last night, put my contact lenses in and got one of these glasses.

I loved the movie. The 3D technique is fascinating, but also distracting. It took some time getting used to. Some things just looked computer-generated which of course they were, but in 2D it's not that obvious. And sometimes I was close to getting sick.

Overall, I still prefer 2D. However, there are a couple of upcoming movies that I wish to see, so I might watch the 3D version again if no 2D is available.

Upcoming movies I want to see are:
Fantastic Beasts
Rogue One
xXx (Nigel Bennett has a part in this one. Might be thrilling to see him in 3D :))
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Geraint Wyn Davies

Geraint is currently appearing at the Stratford Festival in "Breath of Kings: Rebellion" and "Breath of Kings: Redemption". The 2 plays are a new destillation of Shakespeare's 4 history plays "Richard II", Henry IV - Part 1", Henry IV - Part 2", and "Henry V". Geraint plays Sir John Falstaff, Captain Fluellen, and the Old Gardener.

Here's a trailer:


Both plays run through September 24.

Nigel Bennett

Nigel stars in the comedy/farce "Something Fishy" at the Lighthouse Festival Theatre.
June 29-July 16, 2016 Lighthouse Fesival Theatre, Port Dover, ON
July 20-24, 2016 Showboat Festival Theatre, Port Colborne, ON

Here's a nice article about him.

Joseph Ziegler

Joseph Ziegler appears in 3 plays at the Stratford Festival, Ontario:
- Macbeth (by William Shakespeare): Duncan
- All My Sons (by Arthur Miller): Joe Keller
- John Gabriel Borkman (by Henrik Ibsen): Vilhalm Foldal

Lucy Peacock

Lucy Peacock appears in 2 plays at the Stratford Festival, Ontario:
- All My Sons (by Arthur Miller): Kate Keller
- John Gabriel Borkman (by Henrik Ibsen): Gunhild Borkman
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Great start into 2016: Nigel Bennett has been nominated for the ACTRA Award in the category Outstanding Performance for his superb portrayal as Chief Constable Giles in the Murdoch Mysteries episode What Lies Buried.
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Nigel Bennett appears again in tonight's season 9 premiere of Murdoch Mysteries.
Here's a nice preview.
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Nigel has a brief appearance in The Strain (season 2, episode 2). He plays an antique dealer in a flashback to 1965 Vienna and speaks with a perfect German accent which made me smile and wonder if that is what my English sounds like. :)
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Nigel Bennett appears in Season 3, Episode 9 of Orphan Black, which aired last Saturday.
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With opening week coming up, it's about time to announce the FK-relevant highlights of this year's season in Stratford.

Geraint Wyn Davies:

Geraint plays Claudius and the Ghost in Hamlet by William Shakespeare (May 1 - October 11, 2015, Festival Theatre).

In Friedrich Dürrenmatt's comedy The Physicists Geraint plays Johann Wilhelm Möbius (May 12 - September 27, 2015, Tom Patterson Theatre).

Nigel Bennett:

Nigel appears as Sir Charles Marlow, sr. in the 18th century comedy She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith (May 16 - October 10, 2015, Avon Theatre).

In the classic Greek drama Oedipus Rex by Sophocles Nigel plays Teiresias and the Shepherd (June 30 - September 18, 2015, Tom Patterson Theatre).

Others:

Joseph Ziegler (Patrick Delehanty, The Code) plays Mr. Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, Mr. Richard Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer and Henry in The Last Wife.

Lucy Peacock (Peggy Bolger, Human Factor) plays Mrs. Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank and Mrs. Hardcastle in She Stoops to Conquer.
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Nigel has a guest role in this week's episode of Saving Hope.
Here's a preview.

I've never watched this show and I didn't know that Daniel Gillies is a regular. I liked him as Elija in Vampire Diaries.
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Nigel Bennett will be returning as Chief Constable Giles in the next episode of Murdoch Mysteries, airing Monday at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Check out the sneak peek:
Preview

Update: This episode was brilliant!!! Excellent writing and superb acting.

CBC offers an interesting Behind the scenes video. Might also be useful for FK flashbacks as it shows the historic Toronto of 1902.
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The Last Confession
Directed by Jonathan Church
Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto (seen on May 8 and 9, 2014)

The Last Confession, written by Roger Crane, explores the mystery surrounding the sudden death of Pope John Paul I who was found dead only 33 days after his election in 1978.

Toronto was the first station of an international tour that continues in Los Angeles and Australia. The Royal Alexandra Theatre is a beautiful cozy theatre that opened in 1907. The moment you entered the auditorium, the scent of incense gives the impression that you are in a church.

The play begins with the confession of an ailing Cardinal Benelli (David Suchet) who feels responsible for the premature death of Pope John Paul I. The story unfolds in a series of flashbacks, starting during the papacy of Paul VI. Cardinal Luciani (Richard O’Callaghan) from Venice arrives in Rome and seeks an audience with the Pope in order to talk to him about Bishop Marcinkus’ sale of the Catholic Bank of Venice. However, the Pope wouldn’t meet him, so Luciani turns to his friend Archbishop Benelli for intervention. Benelli promises to talk to Cardinal Villot (Nigel Bennett) and Marcinkus (Stuart Milligan).

Cardinal Villot is the Vatican’s Secretary of State. In the play he is described as a tall thin man, looking every inch the cardinal. When I read that, Nigel’s image came instantly to mind, and he is perfect for that role! He wore an amaranth red-trimmed black cassock with pellegrina and fascia and a pectoral cross. In his first scene it becomes quite clear that this is a man who believes his word is law and who does not tolerate any other opinion than that of the conservative Catholic Church. Aware that Benelli may oppose his views, Villot suggests to Pope Paul VI (Donald Douglas) that Benelli should be removed from Rome. Accordingly, Pope VI sends Benelli to Florence, but appoints him to be Cardinal so that he may have a say in the next conclave when it come to the election of a new Pope who, so Paul VI hopes, will not be controlled by the Curia.

When Pope Paul VI passes away, the cardinals, including Benelli, gather for the conclave. Benelli promotes the election of Luciani, a humble man who does not want a position of such power. Yet Benelli manages to convince enough cardinals to support Luciani. Cardinal Villot is the one reading out the votes and this was very well done. While the stage was dark, Nigel’s voice reverberated from speakers around the auditorium giving you the impression you were in the middle of it all. Very nice.

Luciani accepts the vote and calls himself John Paul I. The Cardinals Villot, Felici (John O’May) and Baggio (Kevin Colson) believe that the new Pope can be easily controlled by the Curia. However they are proven very wrong. Although the papal clothes are far too big for John Paul’s small frame, the Pope carries out his agenda with an inner strength that surprises all. It starts with his wish to change the coronation ceremony. He does not want to be crowned and he wants to enter St. Paul’s Church on foot. His ideas about birth control are very liberal. In his demeanor he reminded me very much of the present Pope Frances, which gave the play an interesting current touch. Cardinal Villot opposes his suggestions instantly, stating that the coronation is a century-old tradition that cannot be altered on a whim. Yet, he has no choice but to comply.

Cardinal Benelli had expected to be appointed Secretary of State in Villot’s stead. But when this does not happen, he leaves Rome. Back to the present, Benelli regrets this choice, feeling that he has abandoned John Paul when he needed him most.

When John Paul wants to push his own ideas, Villot announces that he will bury him in enough paperwork that he won’t have the time for any reforms.

After the intermission, the second act starts in John Paul’s study. He finds out from his secretary that his predecessor Pope Paul VI always received summaries while entire reports pile up on his own desk. After sending Bishop Marcinkus home to Chicago, he informs the Cardinals Baggio, Felici and Villot that he intends to remove them as well. On the next morning, Benelli receives a phone call from Villot that the Pope has been found dead in his bed, only 33 days after his election.

When Benelli arrives in Rome, he learns that no autopsy has been conducted and that there are conflicting reports about the time the body was found and by whom as well as about the position he was found in. It turns out that Villot had removed all personal effects, including the papers the Pope had been working on, which apparently concerned the removal of the Cardinals in power.

Benelli insists on an investigation, but the other cardinals convince him that it might not bear well in the public eye when the conclave is postponed because of rumours that the Pope may have been murdered. Yet it is agreed upon an informal investigation.

When Benelli questions the physician, it turns out that the Pope had been in excellent health showing no risk factors of the heart attack that was presumably the cause of death. Also the way the body was found was not consistent with a heart attack. The next candidate to be interrogated is Cardinal Villot. There’s a tremor in his hand that increases in intensity the more agitated he becomes by Benelli’s questions. During the cross-examination he admits that to save the Church, the Pope had to die. When Benelli confronts him stating that he drove him too hard day and night, Villot suddenly jumps up and bursts out that he killed the Pope. The theatre went utterly silent for several seconds. That was a striking performance!

Benelli wants to question further people, but Felici convinces him to lay off. He says what Benelli really wants is to remove Villot, Marcinkus, Felici and others, and that he can only accomplish that if he becomes the next Pope. However, he would never become Pope if he puts off the conclave to continue the investigation. Benelli sees the point and decides that he wants to become the next Pope.

During the conclave there is a deadlock. Benelli needs only 5 more votes, but none of Felici’s supporters would shift. Finally Benelli gives up and tells his supporters to vote for Woytila, who then becomes the next Pope John Paul II. This was an interesting turn in the play. During the conclave Woytila remained in the shadows. When he is announced to be the next Pope, he steps into the light and it turns out that he is the Confessor (Philip Craig).

Back in the present, Benelli is disappointed that John Paul II did not reopen the investigation. John Paul II claims it was necessary to protect the Church from greater damage. Benelli wants to publish his Confession, but John Paul II asks him not to. When Benelli is alone, he has a final inner conflict, then he lights a match and burns the confession before passing away.

Overall, this is a very complex play, and it helps to have some background knowledge on the topic in order to keep better track of what’s going on and who is who, especially in the beginning. Although the characters in the play really existed, the dialogues are fiction. Yet to this day, there are rumours about foul play surrounding the early demise of Pope John Paul I. The play purposefully leaves it open what really happened, so everybody can draw their own conclusions.

David Suchet was the star of this production. He had already played the role during the first run in England 2007. In North America he is apparently well known for his role as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. However, since that series never aired in Germany, I had never heard of him before. He was very good in the role of the ambitious Benelli.

Richard O’Callaghan’s friendly Pope John Paul I was a wonderful counterpoint to the strict cardinals surrounding him.

Nigel Bennett gave an outstanding performance. His quarrels with Benelli were very powerful, and due to his height it was quite impressive when he towered over Benelli.

Toronto was the nearest venue for me to catch this play. Although it was still 6,000 km, the experience was well worth the flight.
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Last week's plotline was continued in episode 6 and Nigel had another, even briefer appearance. :)
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Nigel Bennett had a brief appearance in last week's episode of Rookie Blue (season 5, episode 5), the Canadian police series set in Toronto (sounds familiar?). Nigel played a psychiatrist who was called in as a witness. The officer who questioned him was played by Ben Bass who is a regular in the series. :)
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The previous Uncle-Unlimited.org featuring updates on Nigel's career has found a temporary new home at Uncle Unlimited. The previous site has been experiencing technical difficulties and is no longer available.

Nigel is currently on stage in Toronto. The Last Confession, written by Roger Crane, explores the mystery sorrounding the sudden death of Pope John Paul I who was found dead only 33 days after his election in 1978. Nigel plays Cardinal Villot, the secretary of state.

The play runs at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto until June 1, 2014.

Then the production goes on a world tour visiting Los Angeles and Australia.

Tour dates:

June 10-29, 2014: Los Angeles (Ahmanson Theater)
August 2-16, 2014: Perth (His Majesty's Theatre)
August 20-24, 2014: Brisbane (Lyric Theatre QPAC)
August 27-31, 2014: Adelaide (Her Majesty's Theatre)
September 3-14, 2014: Melbourne (Comedy Theatre)
September 24-October 5, 2014: Sydney (Theatre Royal)

In an excellent review, The Toronto Star gave the production 4 out of 4 stars and wrote "The less saintly crew are led by Nigel Bennett, who does a splendidly forceful job as the close-minded Cardinal Villot, holding his own with [David] Suchet in a wonderful climactic scene where they pull out all the stops in a battle between good and evil."

Read the full review here.

The world tour is the reason why Nigel is not appearing in the 2014 season of the Stratford Festival. There we have Geraint Wyn Davies playing Antony in Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" (August 3-September 20) and the Cook in Bertold Brecht's "Mother Courage and her Children" (May 15-September 21).

Source: Mirvish.com, Chichester Festival Theatre
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It's been a while since my last post. So it's about time that I share my impressions on this year's season in Stratford, Ontario. I've seen 4 plays in total: The Thrill, The Three Musketeers, Mary Stuart and Measure for Measure. Let's start with a review of The Thrill which I had the pleasure of seeing twice. When someone in the B&B I stayed in heard that I was going to see it twice, he asked if I enjoy stomping my foot with a pole. Well, all I can say is, although it was not a light topic, it was well worth seeing it twice. Of course, the wonderful cast contributed a lot to that effect.

"The Thrill" is a new play written by Judith Thompson. It was commissioned by the Stratford Festival and had its world premiere at the Studio Theatre during the 2013 season. The cast included Lucy Peacock as Elora, Nigel Bennett as Julian, Patricia Collins as Hanna and Robert Persichini as Frances. They were all brilliant!

Set in Charleston, "The Thrill" focuses on Elora, played by Lucy Peacock, who is confined to a wheelchair since her birth because she is suffering from a degenerative muscle disease. However, this handicap doesn't stop her from enjoying life to the fullest within her limitations. Elora has become a successful lawyer. Her best friend and confidant is Frances, her gay caregiver, played by Robert Persichini.

When Elora reads about the upcoming visit of activist Julian, she becomes very upset. In her view he is the impersonated devil because he advocates giving parents a choice to decide the fate of their children when they are born with an incurable disease. He is on a tour promoting his book "Wheelbarrow" in which he describes the fate of his sister who died in childhood after years of suffering from a painful disease. Elora regards him as a threat to her existence because she wouldn't be alive had her parents acted according to Julian's view. She plans to interrupt Julian's book-reading at the university with a protest of her own.

In the next scene we learn that Julian, played by Nigel Bennett, is not the devil as he was described by Elora. He is caring deeply for his mother Hanna, played by Patricia Collins, who is suffering from dementia.

In the lecture hall, when Julian is talking about his sister and explains his views, Elora runs him over with her wheelchair. In the next scene he visits her at home bringing a cake as a gift. Much to her surprise he apologizes and asks her to join him in a panel discussion. She refuses at first but when Frances asks her which scarf she intends to wear it's clear that she would accept the challenge.

During the debate Julian and Elora both point out their views. Later they meet in a restaurant. She is fashionably late. She convinces him to join her in her campaign to get "her" people out of nursing homes which she calls "gulag" and enable them to receive appropriate homecare. He is clearly struck by her beauty and her spirit and she by his charisma. He admires her eyes and her hair and asks for permission to kiss her which she allows. Passions rise and his hand finds his way under her skirt. The following passionate scene was very effective. The lights went down and only their silhouettes were visible in front of a screen. Her accelerated breathing implied what was going on. Then it went completely dark and it was intermission.

After the intermission 6 months had passed. Julian and Elora have stayed in contact via skype while he went on a world tour to promote his book. However, Elora's state has deteriorated during this time and she's now on a feeding tube. Hanna has also taken a turn to the worse, leaving Julian no choice but to send her to a nursing home in order to prevent her from harming herself at home. Elora is angry at him because he made hardly any progress with their mutual project and her time is running out. She asks sarcastically if anyone bought his book in Sansibar. She feels used by him as if he had merely studied her to gain material for a new book, but Frances assures her that Julian's feelings for her are honest.

Meanwhile Hanna has passed away. She comes on stage with a walking frame and talks in a chilling monologue about her ordinary life.

When Julian visits Elora again she asks him to kiss her deeply until she suffocates. He refuses at first but she begs him to do for her what he couldn't do for his sister. Finally he gives in and, kneeling in front of her, initiates the "kiss of death". After a while she begins to struggle, but he continues. After what seems a gripping eternity, he lets go, saying he can't do it. Elora recovers and thanks him for not making her the exception. He wants to stay with her, but she refuses, telling him that Frances will stay with her until the end and see her out. In the final scene she's with Frances alone on the stage. Music is heard through the window. For a while she moves with her wheelchair in tune to the sounds. Then she asks Frances to pour a little bit of wine into her feeding tube.

"The Thrill" is certainly one of those plays that stay with you long after the performance is over. It touches topics which everyone is reluctant to talk about. What I liked in particular about the play is the balance of conflicting emotions. While there was a lot of drama the dialogues were interlaced with lots of humour, prompting the audience to laugh which felt like a relief from all the pent up emotions.

And the cast was exceptional. Lucy Peacock gave a stunning portrayal of a strong-willed woman confined to a wheelchair. The joy for life she exudes in the first scene is clearly palpable. Her labouring breathing after an asthma attack was as believable as the posture of her limbs that wouldn't always respond the way she wished. Nigel Bennett gave a very emotional performance as Julian. He was the loving, caring and patient son in the scenes with his mother. He conveyed despair when he talked about the fate of his sister, and he was utterly charming in the scenes with Elora. Since his character was of Irish origin, he used an Irish accent throughout the play. I certainly wish he would get more major roles in Stratford.
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This week was the first opening week at the Stratford Festival. A compilation of the reviews for all plays is provided by the Festival here. GWD received a lot of praise for his roles as Duke Vincentio in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and as the Earl of Leicester in Schiller's Mary Stuart.

In particular I liked this phrase from the Toronto Star: Geraint Wyn Davies has the ability to charm one moment, then go for the throat in the next and that quality is on splendid display here. Couldn't help but finding this very inspiring for the story I'm currently writing for [community profile] fkficfest. :) A precise description of how I like Nick best. :)

Production photos of Measure for Measure and Mary Stuart are offered here (Nigel is seen in one, too) and here, respectively.

A video of Mary Stuart with GWD in it (although he doesn't say anything in this scene) is available here.

The third FK-related play The Thrill featuring Nigel Bennett opens in August.
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Time of Death is a thriller that will air in Canada in 2013 on The Movie Network.

Following the death of CEO Robert Loring (Nigel Bennett) at precisely 10:44 pm, the FBI sends in Jordan Price (Kathleen Robertson) one of their best and brightest to solve the case. As other key executives are murdered at exactly the same time, Jordan finds herself investigating the past in order to solve the case. She quickly discovers the ultimate cover up and is under the gun to solve the mystery before the next victim is killed.

Of course, it's a bit unfortunate that he gets killed in the beginning, but he appears in the trailer which is available on the Incendo website.
Go to "Productions", then "Movies", then "Time of Death" and "View Trailer".
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Blue/Orange is a play written by Joe Penhall which I had the pleasure of seeing performed in Kingston, Ontario earlier this year. It's about a patient of African origin (Christopher, played by Ayinde Blake) who has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and who claims to be the son of an African dictator. His physician Dr. Bruce Flaherty (played by William Matthews) wants to keep him in the psychiatric hospital, but Dr. Flaherty's supervisor, senior consultant Dr. Robert Smith (played brilliantly by Nigel Bennett) insists that Christopher be released because of a bed shortage, and also because he feels the young man is neither a health risk to himself nor to others. What begins as a professional debate between the two doctors evolves into a thrilling Darwinian struggle for power.

Directed by Alan Dilworth, the entire play is set in the narrow consultation room which makes it very intimate and intense, especially in a small venue like the Baby Grand Theatre in Kingston with its 80-seat auditorium. The first act begins with Bruce and Christopher facing each other in the consultation room. Bruce reminds him why coffee is not good for him. Later Dr. Smith joins them, entering with a coffee mug. We learn that Bruce had asked him to sit in on the session in order to back up his assessment of the patient. Dr. Smith hands the coffee over to Christopher and lights a cigarette. He also passes on several to Christopher, thus undermining all that Bruce has accomplished. In the first act Dr. Smith wears a cardigan which gives him an air of the good natured doctor who cares about his patient. As the play continues we learn that Dr. Smith is currently writing a book, a continuation of his thesis. He believes that people are biased and treat Christopher as a result of his skin colour. The book is almost finished except for one chapter, for which he is looking for something special, and Christopher's case would just provide the kind of research he requires.

Act 2 begins with Dr. Smith and Christopher alone in the consultation room. Dr. Smith has discarded his cardigan. The light is dimmed and this scene is very intimate as we listen in on the conversation. It starts with a monologue which is wonderfully delivered by Nigel. In fact, it contains a quote from Last Knight: "Life is a gift". It becomes apparent that Christopher's case is exactly what Dr. Smith is looking for. He wants to take over the case and monitor Christopher from outside the hospital.

In the third act, Dr. Smith is wearing a posh suit jacket with his name tag attached to it and a bow-tie. The tag showed a cute photo from Nigel's website. He's all his authoritative self that he does so well. We learn that there has been a board meeting to which Bruce was oblivious. A complaint has been filed against Bruce by Christopher for influencing him, and Bruce is basically fired from the hospital.

Ayinde Blake portrayed the young patient very well, believably switching from eager to get home to completely out of sorts. William Matthews was appropriately soft in line with the character he played. And Nigel was brilliant, playing the role of Dr. Smith with smug superiority. There was one scene in which he suddenly shouts at Bruce, causing the entire theatre to fall silent at his outburst. It was a delight to see him in a leading role again.
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In the context of his upcoming stage performance in "Blue/Orange" in Kingston, Ontario, the local newspaper posted a very nice article about Nigel Bennett.

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