Excerpts from Reviews of Productions Directed by Jeff Culbert...

HUNTING STUART, by Robertson Davies
Ausable Theatre, Lucan Ontario, June, 2000

"What Stratford has been lacking, but what the tiny Ausable Theatre has in Jeff Culbert, is a director who has insight into the comedy he is directing, knows how to communicate that insight to his cast and knows how to get the cast to communicate that insight to the audience. I very much look forward to their next production."
Christopher Hoile, Stage Door and Theatreworld websites

“Act One cajoles us into a state of amused expectancy. Act Two takes us to dizzying heights of magical fun, never losing sight of Davies' tart social commentary … a rare, wonderful night of theatre”
Patricia Black, Scene Magazine

“A wonderfully witty play … lucid and funny”
Herman Goodden, CBC Radio

ONE-MAN MASQUE, by James Reaney (Jeff Culbert as director/performer)
Tarragon Extra Space, Toronto and Palace Theatre, London
Toronto Masque Theatre and Ausable Theatre, January and March, 2005

"Jeff Culbert reprised his own Ausable Theatre production of this stunningly good fusion of theatre and poetry, which as a text and in performance made the rest of the program feel like appetizers before the main course ... unforgettable."
Robert Everett-Green, Globe and Mail

“a mesmerizing presentation … a spectacular conclusion.”
Kenneth Chisholm, Theatre in London

“His superb work as both director and actor moved the audiences to stand-ups, tears, laughter and exclamations … Jeff's convincing, continuous riot of progressive visual images reminded me of a spiritual Yin and Yang, where the left side and right side of the brain curve in upon each other with startling effects.”
playwright James Reaney

(Brickenden Award nomination for Best Director, 2004)
Talbot Theatre, UWO, London Ontario
UWO English Department, October, 2004

"Rock-solid version of one of the greatest English-language plays benefits immensely from Jeff Culbert's dedicated, intelligent direction and a parade of fine character performances from some of London's best actors."
Christopher Doty, Theatre in London website

“A palpable picture of the poor in Ireland, showing the values that helped them survive, while still revealing their dark side … a moving indictment of destructive social values in 1920s Ireland”
Kenneth Chisholm, Theatre in London

PROBLEM CHILD, by George F. Walker
(Brickenden Award for Best Director, 2003)
McManus Studio Theatre, Grand Theatre, London Ontario - Ausable Theatre, January, 2003

"Tragic, comic, depressing, thought-provoking, poignant, bizarre and all too frighteningly real."
Noel Gallagher, London Free Press

"Culbert's actors have tapped the deep veins of incongruity in their characters' lives ... together they achieve greatness ... Culbert's Ausable Theatre production of this masterpiece is a must-see."
Patricia Black, Scene Magazine (London)

"This Ausable Theatre production is just plain masterful ... both humourous and horrific ... a meaty, memorable production"
Christopher Doty, Theatre in London website

"A triumph ... remarkable depth ... brings tears of both laughter and sorrow ... a terrifyingly heartbreaking achievement." (4.5 stars)
Maggie Wrobel, UWO Gazette

RISK EVERYTHING, by George F. Walker
McManus Studio Theatre, Grand Theatre, London Ontario - Ausable Theatre, November, 2003

"How do you follow up a near perfect first effort? If you're director Jeff Culbert, you do the same thing twice. An absolute gem ... some of the funniest and most touching bits of dialogue in recent dramatic memory ... Ausable has another hit on its hands" (5 stars)
Maggie Wrobel, UWO Gazette

"A funny, savage show ... if anything, more impressive than its predecessor ... direction and acting fire on all cylinders. In the hands of a lesser cast and director, Risk Everything would have been a gamble. But under the assured guidance of director Jeff Culbert and his superb actors their latest offering, along with Problem Child , neatly bookend a stellar year for theatre in London."
Christopher Doty, Theatre in London website

"The Ausable Theatre Company has tapped a vein of dramatic gold. Even though the entire action takes place in a motel room, the emotional range and the action make it feel like an entire world of exploitation and despairingly pervasive and inescapable danger."
Kenneth Chisholm, Theatre in London website

McManus Studio Theatre, Grand Theatre, London Ontario - Ausable Theatre, November, 2003

"Terrific, must-see theatre ... Watching The End of Civilization after viewing the concurrent production Risk Everything is like opening up two years worth of Christmas presents at once. They are both so well produced, directed and acted it's impossible to recommend one over the other ... Culbert's direction keeps hinting at an explosive rage lurking behind the paper-thin walls ... theatre magic.
Christopher Doty, Theatre in London website

BOAT LOAD, by Jayson McDonald
(Innovation Award, Victoria Fringe)
Canadian and US tour
Stars and Hearts, summer, 2008

“McDonald and Culbert don't just turn theatrical convention on its head - they wrestle it to the ground, beat it into submission, and then stand it up remade in their own bizarrely entertaining vision. It's theatre that's remarkably fresh, thoroughly engaging, and too good to be true at only nine bucks.”
CBC Winnipeg

“A pitch-perfect one-man-show heavy on hilarity and heart”
Winnipeg Free Press (5 stars)

“You'll laugh and cry at the same time”
Monday Magazine, Victoria (5 stars)

“Hilarious and touching … Director Jeff Culbert is the lighthouse that guides McDonald's boat, yet Culbert allows his actor to be the one shining.”
Kathy Rumeski, London Free Press

“The show plays out like a finely-tuned symphony.”
Plank magazine, Vancouver “Boat Load is one of the best solo Fringe acts I've seen.”
Victoria Times Colonist

THE DONNELLY TRIAL, by Christopher Doty
Middlesex County Courthouse, London Ontario - Doty Docs, June 2005

“an engrossing, even haunting theatre experience … Heightening the aura of authenticity, director Jeff Culbert and his cast present the story in an honest, straightforward manner, without indulging in unnecessary theatrics. During Wednesday night's sold-out performance, 130 spectators sat transfixed in near-reverent silence … The Donnelly Trial couldn't have drawn a more favourable verdict from its audience.”
Noel Gallagher, London Free Press

“This play is a compelling and mesmerizing recreation of the trial that challenges you to make your own judgement about the crime and its victims … a riveting experience in a thrilling recreation of Canadian history … My own verdict is in and I judge this play a masterful dramatic pleasure for all!!”
Kenneth Chisholm, Theatre in London

NOTHING SACRED, by George F Walker
The Arts Project, London Ontario
New Generation Theatre, February, 2007

"… dynamic, elegant and enjoyable from start to finish … the simple tableaux were gorgeous and evocative … an intelligent script delivered in an accessible fashion.”
Amelia Does, Theatre Nemesis

“With a largely empty stage, the players manage to excite our imagination to fill in all the details of the country estate that we could want … The company trusts its audience. Social change can be hard on anyone, but this play … tells a challenging and compelling story where the greatest change can be within ourselves.”
Kenneth Chisholm, Theatre in London

WORK, by James O'Reilly
(Jeff Culbert as director/performer)
Andrew's Lane Studio, Dublin Ireland and London Fringe Festival
Ausable Theatre, Aug and Sept, 2002

"A riveting performance ... combines brilliant observation and mockery with pathos ... unforgettable" (4 stars)
Helen Meany, Irish Times

"Great humour ... nice vignettes ... Culbert is mesmerizing, an ensemble rolled into one"
The Irish Examiner

"Theatre that's disturbing and hilarious at the same time ... a must-see"
Christopher Doty, Theatre in London website

KING PHOENIX, by Robertson Davies
McManus Studio Theatre, Grand Theatre, London Ontario
Ausable Theatre, September, 2001

“A long-overdue revival … Ausable artistic director Jeff Culbert has led the way in helping renew interest in Davies' dramas … He wrote plays filled with big ideas, passions and jests. Ausable Theatre has staged five of them and King Phoenix is surely the best of the bunch … The master's own touch could not have been better than this one … Culbert and his London alt-theatre crew reveal the script's true promise and ensure the phoenix rises on stage and Davies' words take flight … The production achieves the right Davies mix of myth and magic, wit and wisdom.”
James Reaney, London Free Press

“Ausable has performed a great service in helping to rehabilitate this fascinating work. In "King Phoenix" Davies dramatizes not just any myth but the ur-myth of birth, death and rebirth. The production is humble but imaginative and is directed with a clear understanding of the text by Ausable Artistic Director, Jeff Culbert. He allows the play to build steadily in meaning and emotion to its very moving conclusion. With "King Phoenix" Ausable Theatre shows us yet again how effective and thought-provoking Davies' plays are in performance. No one who wants to understand Davies or the importance of myth should miss the chance to see this play.”
Christopher Hoile, Stage Door and TheatreWorld websites

McManus Studio Theatre, Grand Theatre, London Ontario - Ausable Theatre, November, 2002

“The play succeeds on stage better than many other adaptations of radio dramas because of the non-naturalistic approach of director Jeff Culbert … The stage is bare except for a vestigial staircase to mark entrances and a few party decorations to create atmosphere. Otherwise, everything is conjured up through mime and the clever use of minimal props. Bicycles handlebars and steering wheels are synecdoches for whole vehicles, puppets represent two twin babies and a man with a box on his head is a radio. The inventiveness of the production and performances are a perfect match for the playfulness of the text. Thanks are due to Ausable Theatre for bringing Reaney's words so strikingly to life.”
Christopher Hoile, Stage Door and TheatreWorld websites

“Jeff Culbert's directorial imagination behind these actors' performances was a joy.”
playwright James Reaney

PROBLEM CHILD, by George F Walker
Unfringed Festival, Limerick Ireland
Impact Theatre Company, February 2008

“The mood swings easily between hilarity and tragedy … The performances of all four cast members were outstanding, mixing subtle comic timing with suitable bravado.”
Mary Mearse, The Whipping Post (Cork)

“The action takes place in the upstairs room of a Limerick amusement arcade: the audience is led up a darkened staircase to a candlelit performance space, and the sounds of videogames and shouts from the street below set the scene brilliantly. Jeff Culbert builds on that atmosphere well, directing in a style of cinematic realism that keeps the action zipping along nicely. A darkly humourous blend of sensationalism, strong plotting, and pop-culture references”
Patrick Lonergan, Irish Times

“It was excellent; it was really well performed. Well worth going to see. Myles Breen was fantastic.”
Brenda Donohue, RTE (Irish National Radio)

Problem Child is a joy … Everything happens here: anguish, love, panic, jokes, helplessness, all put into place with stunning performances by the legendary Myles Breen and the incredible Norma Lowney.”
Val O'Connor, Limerick Leader

HER WORSHIP, by Peter Desbarats
(Brickenden Award nomination for Best Director, 2002)
McManus Studio Theatre, Grand Theatre, London Ontario
Ausable Theatre, March 2002

“After months of marketing the sizzle, Her Worship delivers a surprisingly satisfying steak. The "dramatic comedy" wasn't expected to live up to the huge hype that preceded it. Locally, the public's interest was captured by talk of this play that was "completely fictitious" yet "inspired" by the real-life controversies sparked during Dianne Haskett's tenure (1995 to 2000) as London's mayor … Her Worship actually lives up to all its hype.”
Noel Gallagher, London Free Press

NOVEL HOUSE, by Jayson McDonald
Ausable Theatre, Lucan Ontario, August 1999

“Ausable theatre has another success on its hands … a humourous and sad story … an intelligent, funny script that moves along well”
Scott Nixon, Exeter Times Advocate

“Novel House has great sweetness, wacky humour, lyricism and gentle poignancy .. the performances are all excellent”
Patricia Black, Scene Magazine

Various outdoor locations, London Ontario
Doors Open London, October 2007

“A fine show … this year's Stroll is an eerie delight that commemorates the underside of London's past. The play may be reusing many previous stories, but the staging arranged for the whole show is refreshing. For instance, Josh Cottrell tells his character's story on a high platform of a building's fire escape; not only does this help accommodate the audience in the alley's limited space, but the parallel to a gallows is unmistakable. The result is that the familiar story is given a new feeling of authority.”
Kenneth Chisholm, Theatre in London

(from Frights of Spring )
Grosvenor Lodge, London Ontario
Theatre Nemesis, May, 2008

“( Frights of Spring ) is a feast of brilliantly crafted tales of fantasy and horror in a unique venue that is perfect for presenting them … ( My Fighting Spirit ) was perfect to see as a warm up for the others. Tyler Parr takes the show up to a stunning level of physicality worthy of Buster Keaton, and the sequence in which his character is assaulted by the ghost is frightening within the context of the story and amazing without.”
Kenneth Chisholm, Theatre in London

OVERLAID and EROS AT BREAKFAST, by Robertson Davies
Ausable Theatre, Lucan Ontario, June, 1998 "Ausable Theatre is evidence that good theatre can be done well, simply and on a limited budget. What is essential is not the trappings of an extravagant evening but a good script, a lot of talent and most of all an earnest love for dramatizing the 'human condition'."
Sherri Telenko, Id Magazine, Guelph

A JIG FOR THE GYPSY, by Robertson Davies
Ausable Theatre, Lucan Ontario, June 1999. “Robertson Davies sure knows how to write a captivating story, and Ausable Theatre in Lucan does an admirable job of bringing A Jig for the Gypsy to life after its long sleep since 1973 … funny and entertaining”
Helen Stephenson, Middlesex Banner

"The niche it is creating for itself is an enviable one - intelligent plays, well acted and thoughtfully directed ... subtle performances that are among the best that I have seen this summer (and that includes the two big festivals!) ... theatre done simply but with great feeling and understanding.
Christopher Hoile, Stage Door website and Theatreworld websites