Gonna have to try and speed this one along here, folks, I’m writing it on the work computer in between a shift and a show. So forgive me if it seems a little breezy…I’m really not sure what the protocol is for me using this thing, but I’d just as soon not get in dutch for it. Thing is, if I DON’T write this post now, then later tonight I’ll be, like, 2 or 3 posts behind. And how the Hell did THAT happen? When did I suddenly get assailed by looming deadlines? Who the Hell do I think I am, Pat Gauthier?
Now THERE’S an in-joke…wasn’t I supposed to be making this chud accessible to people? Well, whatever, I was also supposed to be in a hurry. So let me tell ya all about how I completely didn’t care about St.Patrick’s Day last nite (that’s EVERY day here at the Visitorium, FYI) and instead lined up at the swanky NAC for the preview performance of Michel Tremblay’s ST.CARMEN OF THE MAIN, translated here by one Linda Gaboriau. I like Preview shows at the NAC, because it means I get to steal the front and centre seats without paying those front and centre seat bucks. So up I went, settled in, had a kind word or two with director Peter Hinton as he arrived for his pre-show speech (which I’m getting to know pretty well by this point), and waited for the curtain to rise. And oh, when it rose…
We were all greeted by easily the most gaudy and marvellous collection of high-heeled pumps (all red) all in a row,worn by some of the most spectacularly attired pimps and pros (ALSO all in red) you could ever hope to see in one place at one time. And can I just say, the sight of the entire cast of VIMY (among others) clad entirely in crimson drag was something that did not get old for me for one second that fine evening. (I found John Doucet the hardest to pick out, personally).
Our red-robed rogues formed a kind of street-style Greek chorus, led by the rather fantastic Robert Persichini and Karen Robinson as Sandra and Rose Beef, respectively. The chorus informs us that something wonderful is happening down on the main drag in Montreal…after six months in the US of A, their beloved Carmen, a country-styled chanteuse, is returning to them. Carmen, aka Laara Sadiq who inhabits the role with some mighty gusto indeed, had supposedly been training in Nashville to polish up her yodelling skills.
But the sparkling Carmen has some other ideas brewing, a virtual firestorm of hope and inspiration that quickly sets her at odds with a host of gloriously shady characters: There’s Gloria, the elder music Queen of the Main who looks down her nose at the young upstart she claims credit for creating (Jackie Richardson, positively stealing half the show in one mighty monologue); Toothpick, a low-rent thug with a personal grudge against Carmen (played by Joey Tremblay with a wonderful sleazy sheen); and cruel manager Maurice, whose views on music, the Main, and just about everything are diametrically opposed to Carmen’s. Jean LeClerc as Maurice is a walking, talking atom-bomb of greasy swagger, who seems to naturally dominate everyone around him. When Carmen squares off against him, it really does feel like David v.Goliath.
ST.CARMEN has an intentionally mythic feel to it, and ya know I loves me a Greek Chorus. Carmen’s backstory is told in whispered fragments and legends by her dresser, the faithful Harelip played with stoic grace by Diane D’Aquila. It’s a tragic story, and it seems Carmen’s efforts to save the poor wretches of the Main is no less an attempt to save herself. I’ll let you find out for yourself how successful she is (or not).
The production is gorgeous to watch, and the actors are pretty much top of the notch. I could have maybe done with a little more music in a play ABOUT a musician, but that’s neither here nor there. Compliments to the NAC gang, it was indeed a fine time on the main drag. And I’d maybe say more, but now I gotta run…off to Algonquin tonite, and maybe I’ll see some of you there. Or you could check out the OTTAWA IMPROV FESTIVAL at Arts Court, too. I caught that after the play last night, and I’ll maybe have something to say about THAT in a bit, too. If I can find the goddamned time, that is. Sheesh. Someone could offer to pay me for this shit ANY old time now…
Peace, Love and Soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)