How to Make a Martyr

An apology.  Last week, after a great night of THIS IS A RECORDING at the Undercurrents festival, I was privileged enough to be invited out to Absinthe with a few Ottawa theatrical luminaries, including Nancy Kenny and Margo Macdonald, among many splendid others.  But Nancy and Margo Mac, they were premiering a new show this week, see?  And I, in my hubris, asked if I could hang around with them and the cast and all after the show, when I saw it on Thursday night.  Because that sounded fun and stuff.  They, all smiles and coolness, said that would be very delightful indeed, or words to that effect.

I saw that show, Evolution Theatre‘s LITTLE MARTYRS, tonight.  And when the house lights came up and the cast took their bows, I got the Hell out of there as fast as I could.  And I’m really, really sorry (not that I think any of the cast were all heartbroken at not getting to hang out with me, I’m not capable of thoughts like that), but, I just…I just couldn’t stay.  Not after that.  Hell, I could barely look you guys in the eye during the applause!

To explain…I’d been seriously looking forward to this show for a while…Evolution is a killer company, Nancy Kenny is a pal, the whole cast seemed awesome (although I was unfamiliar with one of them).  So I was excited to hit Arts Court (a new part of it for me, to boot) and head in for the second show of the run.  A sadly sparse house, probably thanks to the EARNEST debut across town, so I picked a good seat even as I tried to take in the set.  And when I saw the SET…holy Mother.  The set grabs you by the throat and just instantly starts twisting your brain in directions that haven’t even been invented yet.  I don’t know what mad scientist’s lab Pierre Ducharme escaped from, but thank fuck his talents have been channelled to good use.  The set is bafflingly cool in a way MC Escher only had nightmares about.

After drinking in the visuals, and perusing the program to marvel at the list of generous, handsome donors, the show began.  A woman is taking out the garbage.  A young man knocks on her door.  And even though it should seem normal, there’s something terribly, terribly wrong  in the air…

I’m not spoiling anything in pointing out that this play, by playwright Dominick Parenteau-Lebeuf (here translated for the first time into English by Mishka Lavigne) is based on a true crime story of two ten-year old boys who tortured and killed a toddler.  It’s in all the promo material for the show, so I know Evolution is not concerned if you know that going in.  And it’s not a concern…hell, it only adds to the tension.  Of which there is considerably plenty.

Another anecdote from Undercurrents springs to mind…the time Alvina Ruprecht mistook me briefly for Chris Bedford.  Well, after seeing how he directs a show tonite, I’m liable to send her an e-mail of gratitude.  At the risk of sounding film-school trite, this is the closest you’re coming to seeing a David Lynch movie live on stage in this town anytime soon.   And Al Connors..!  That fool knows his sound.  Impressive.

The cast is INSANE.  Matt Miwa, who shares the bulk of the scenes, and who was the only actor here I was previously unfamiliar with, is a revelation.  His tortured Jacob, seeking redemption for his crime through a funhouse mirror of religion and suffering, is wonderful and a little scary to watch.  His counterpart, the always great Brad Long as Ludovic, tries to find HIS salvation through beauty, all while rocking a sweater vest like you only WISH you could.  They both collide around Margaret, a spectacularly damaged young woman who has dark secrets of her own…and to my darlin’ buddy Nancy K, let me assure you, Winston is purring loudly with pride in my lap as I type this.  You are bold and amazing.  You’re still my hero.

Rounding it out are Jody Haucke as Margaret’s Father, loving, supportive, but oddly distant…possibly due to the overpowering and lusty Margo MacDonald, vaporizing the scenery as mother Blanche,  a creature of lust consumed by thoughts of bloody vengeance, for some terrible spectre in the past she can’t let go, and neither can Margaret…

I mentioned David Lynch before, and it wasn’t out of sheer pretension.  It’s just that, years ago, when I rented and watched his movie FIRE WALK WITH ME…when it was over?  I had this feeling all over me, like I’d just been hit with a truck.   I was not exactly numb, but…it’s a feeling I can’t describe, but you all know it (or will).  Shaken, let’s call it.   I felt that tonight.  And I simply couldn’t bring myself to shrug it off, say ‘hey, great show!’ and head out for a drink with these people who had just blown my mind.  I just couldn’t let myself look at them as people again.  Not yet.

…Maybe next week, because as I was writing this post I realized that I am absolutely, definitely seeing this show again before it ends its run.  Shows like this don’t come along that often, folks.  And like it, love it, flee screaming from it…you should see it.  Yes.  Yes, you should.

Peace, love and soul,

The Visitor (and Winston)


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