I went grocery shopping today. Down Wellington way, where the posh kids hang out, because why not? Aside from some sundries at the ill-named ‘superstore’…chow for Winston the cat, burger fixin’s, KD for emergencies…I also hit the big LCBO and stocked up on Stella Artois, and the special holiday Jameson’s package, with the commemorative flask. Why the splurge? As if you had to ask…tonite was the premiere of a new Chamber Theatre show, and I wasn’t going to be caught short!
When last we saw hometown heroes Chamber Theatre, they were bombarding the venerable Carleton Tavern with Donnie Laflamme’s latest opus, MECHANICSVILLE MONOLOGUES II (which has recently been published in book form, I do believe…just in time for X-Mas!). This time, he and co-director Lisa Zanyk opted for a piece from another Canadian legend, Michel Tremblay, and his play MARCEL PURSUED BY THE HOUNDS. Turns out Don put this show on for the very first Ottawa Fringe Festival way back in 1997, and thought it was so nice he’d do it twice! Ottawa, you can start thanking Don right now, because I for one am sure glad he brought this one back.
MARCEL tells the story of, as might be expected, Marcel (Matt Smith, positively nailing it), a high-strung Montreal kid on the run from mysterious demons in the night. He ends up at the home of his bitter, drunk sister Therese (Manon Dumas, not only chewing up the scenery but kicking it in the balls and spitting in its Momma’s eye when she’s done). All the while he’s watched over by a strange chorus of four Women/muses/Goddesses/whatever, whose counsel he took refuge in when he was little, and now he seems to need them more than ever.
The chorus is comprised of original OTS gangster Jodi Morden, Jessica Lafrance and Karen Charbonneau, and is commanded by the always amazing Annie Lefebvre (who is no less so in this show). Aside from looking absolutely goddamn FABulous, the gals manage to mesmerize when they’re on, speaking in staccato snippets, and physically echoing the mental anguish of Marcel, who is bearing a dark secret he can’t hold much longer. And Therese has a bombshell or two of her own.
Set in Tremblay’s beloved, decrepit, beer-soaked Montreal Main, MARCEL is classic Greek theatre given a French-Canadian tweak, and it’s great stuff. Chamber Theatre brings it to vivid life in the Carleton (maybe the best setting this play could ASK for), with the able assistance of musician Robin Meyer McLeod, who provides a wondrous cacophany of instrumental soundscapes that chill you to the bone. Tremblay’s themes of innocence and revenge are rich fodder, and the Chamber gang does a fucking fantastic job dragging them kicking and screaming to the Carleton Tavern. Halfway through this show, I already knew I would pay to see it again.
When the show ended, I had a nice little time afterwards finishing my large 50 in the company of Jen Vallance, Jodi Morden, Wayne C and TreeMan, before it was time for me to run home and start writing this thing before I passed out. Now that’s done, and I’m off to cook up some of that emergency Kraft Dinner, finish watching VON RYAN’S EXPRESS, and slavishly watch the counter stats on the blog to see if you people are listening to me or not. I hope so. This one’s a DO NOT MISS, folks. So there. Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)