Not too long ago, I found myself in a goddam terrible misery of a mood, on class day no less. I almost didn’t go. But I did, and things were much better after that. Later, I told this story to a friend of mine (a famous actress of some consequence, it should be noted), and she told me, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘the day you really don’t want to go to class? That’s the day you HAVE to go to class.’
It seemed a sensible policy, and I figured it applied to going to the theatre, too. So today, when after a perfectly fine morning of Ada’s and browsing, I found myself drifting into one of those rotten goddam moods, I forced myself onto the bus and down, down to Ottawa U, where the Drama Guild was putting on their 3rd show of the season at good old Academic Hall. I trusted that this, too, would cheer my silly spirits. And fuck me, but I was right.
The show goes by the mouthful of a title RIVAGE A L’ABANDON, MEDEE-MATERIAU, PAYSAGES AVEC ARGONAUTES. We shall henceforth refer to it simply as MEDEE-MATERIAU, because I ain’t getting paid by the word over here. A tryptych of a play scribed by Heiner Muller and translated by Jean Jourdheuil and Heinz Schwarzinger, directed here by Fanny Gilbert-Collet, the play lasts barely an hour, but makes a hell of an impression in that time. As soon as you enter, you see that the sprawling industrial-style set has begun taking over, breaking right into the seating area. The fog/haze is in full effect, and some backlit fellow is smoking away up on a riser halfway back. It’s an awesome effect, at least I sure thunk so.
When things get going, our smoking man, Sean Sonier (who is solid throughout), starts things off with a seated intro into a microphone (which gets used to nice effect throughout the show) before the ladies make their *ahem* rather stunning debut. I won’t lie here. It’s fairly smokin’. The ‘ladies’ in question, are Gabrielle Lalonde, Katelin Richards (both PIRATE JENNY’S CIRCUS alumni, and yes, that is reason for excitement) and Andrea Pelegri Kristic (whose non-Pirate Jennyness I will certainly not hold against her), and all 3 shine brightly in MEDEE. They all, in fact, take their turns at playing the central character of Medee (or Medea), in their own styles.
Now, I’ve admitted before that my French is somewhat less than passable as actual French, and this is a bilingual show, so I can’t say I completely caught EVERYthing. And I’m sure I missed some important subtleties in the text, blah blah blah. But, as I’d hoped going in, the visuals and the pure theatrics of the show helped me right along in that respect. It’s visually a delightful kick in the brain as our leading ladies trade off roles, railing against their lover Jason and some seriously tortured feelings towards her newborn children. At one point each of the characters takes to the foremost stage, jutting right into the regular seating, like they were walking the plank almost (or do I just have Pirate Jenny on the brain..?). Lalonde, Richards and Pelegri Kristic all bring their own brand of kickass to the role, and impress handily.
It’s a gorgeously choreographed, daring, and seriously arty looking production the Ottawa U gang have pulled off, and it is SO worth a look. It certainly made ME feel better about things in general, which isn’t to say it’s a happy-go-lucky piece or anything like that, it’s just….GOOD. Hats off to the director and cast, and for sure set designer Benoit Poirier. The show runs for 2 more days until Saturday night, so get on out there if you can. And even if your French is as poor as mine, there IS some English in there to tide you over. Not that being confused ever killed anybody. Probably does some good, in the end. Peace, love and soul, you lot,
The Visitor (and Winston)