A few days ago (the 3rd of November, to be relatively precise) I had the experience of catching TARAM at the lovely Nouvelle Scene Theatre, from Theatre du Trillium. I made a hasty post here on the chud praising it in a vague and indistinct way, on account of I was running out the door and just didn’t have time to sit down and hash it out proper. Well, the show run is well over by now, but I still wanted to get something concrete…or, as concrete as the internet allows…down for the record. Because, damn, did that show leave an impression.
As I’ve mentioned twice or thrice by now in these electro-pages, my French skills are barely passable. I had plenty of it in High School, but since then, like many of my peers I’ve let those precious linguistic skills atrophy into near-ruin. Lately, as I’ve caught slightly more Franco-theatre here and there, I’ve felt those lost words creeping back into my head. So I felt confident to head out to Trillium’s latest show, hoping I could catch enough to make sense of the goings-on.
Well, after seeing the show, I have to shamefacedly say not so much. Part of it was because of some SERIOUS Quebec accents going on that gave my virgin ears fits, I tels ya. Plus there was plenty of (intentional) ambient noise in the show, which killed what little comprehension I had. So this will be an odd review, in that I honestly can’t tell you exactly what the Hell was even going ON in this work by Quebecois Slam-poet Marjolaine Beauchamp, and starring herself and Micheline Marin (along with onstage musical accompanists Pierre-Luc Clement and Olivier Fairfield). But then I once heard that French theatre was felt, not understood. So her’es hoping that’s true, and here’s my take!
As I walked into the gorgeous, darkened theatre at LNS, the players were already on stage, one of my fav’rit things ever. Micheline sat on a limk crate at the back of the simple, square stage area, her back to us, taking greedy swigs of something in a clear bottle. Marjolaine lay flat on her back at the front, head towards us, staring up at…something, anything. Off to the sides, the musicians were at their own small stations, weaving what I will unashamedly refer to as Lynchian soundscapes as the audience took their seats. The show hadn’t even started yet and it already had more mood and atmosphere than 90% of the English shows I’ve seen this year…director Pierre Simard impresses quickly, yo.
A television flickered on off to one side as the play began…and as I said, I really can’t explain exactly what it was about, except that it was a very human story, told in some of the most imaginative and beautiful ways I’ve ever seen on stage. A scene at an AA meeting (or something like it) shifts quickly and pretty hilariously into a frozen camping trip in the great outdoors. Video being shot by the actors onstage is projected right onto the stage itself from above, as it’s being shot. A striptease scene turns from comedy to drama to horror and right back around to comedy so fast you hardly see it happen. Beer bottles turn into toys, Guillaume Houet’s killer lighting design plays every trick in the book on your brains, otherwordly sounds and straightforward guitar riffs sub as dialogue for those of us with a deaf French ear…am I getting across how dead cool an impression this show made? And how horrible your life is if you missed it??
By the end, it felt as if something amazing had happened, even if it was just in the one simple life being shown on stage…in the end, I gleaned at least that much. Well, that and the continuing realization that French theatre is something fuckin’ else, folks, and I really need to brush up. Because as much as I’d like to say I don’t care that I couldn’t understand every word in this show, the truth is it’s kinda killing me. If someone ever writes a translation, I’d love a copy. In the meantime, I hope this rambling mess of words serves in some way to thank the Trillium gang for a great nite out. Thumbs up from an ignorant anglo, for what that’s worth. And I’ll be back next month for the next show at La Nouvelle Scene…practice makes parfait, oui? Peace, Love and Soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)