“Plus fragile que la feuille à l’arbre, la vie. Plus lourde que montagne au large, la vie.”
-Felix LeClerc, ‘La Vie’
Today I enjoyed one of my first Sundays off in a good long while…a little schedule-restructuring at the drudgery finally paid off (even if I did have to come in this morning at 7:30 ANYWAYS to let the other cooks in, but that’s another story). After that came some breakfast at Ada’s, a pitstop at the GCTC to book me a volunteer shift for SECRET MASK, and then….a whole lotta nothin’. I never DO seem to know what to do with my days off, and the usually devolve into a rather sad display of drinkin’ and mopin’. But then I remembered…this was Sunday! Sometimes theatres have matinees on Sunday!! A plan was forming, oh yes. I hit the intertubes and looked for an option, and found it across the river in Gatineau-Hull. Which was, quite frankly, just what I needed…I’d been LOOKING for an excuse to hit up the Theatre de L’Ile over there for the first time.
I took a trip on good old #8 and went out in search of the Theatre, which I found in short order. And, let me just say this and get it out of the way…Holy Blue Freakin’ Hannah, Theatre de L’Ile is just about the most gorgeous little slice of Theatrical Heaven I’ve ever stumbled upon. A wunnerful lady by the name of Marie-Nicole told me that it was the most beautiful theatre in the world, and I’m hard pressed to argue. They could charge admission just to hang out in their picturesque backyard, and no fooling.
Oh yeah, and there was a SHOW on, too! Almost icing on the cake, but I was game. The show was LE TOUR DE L’ILE, which I soon discovered was a combination musical cabaret/theatrical piece, based on the works of a fella name of Felix LeClerc, a man who I came to understand is rightly revered in French-Canadian culture, and who I now feel a right ass to have not been familiar with before. The show, starring a killer talented cast including Richard Benard, Marc-Andre Charette, Micheline Marin (who I caught in the flat-out amazing TARAM last year), Claude Naubert, and Frederique Therien (who I also saw recently in the great PETIT KOCHEL…thanks for the reminder, Marie!), features song after song from the madly prolific Leclerc, as well as other more theatrical bits, all staged with style from director Sylvie Dufour (and with some lovely lighting effects from, I think, Michael Brunet…loved the backlighting that opened the show).
That, I believe, was the song the gang opened with, and there was lots of goodness to follow. A few parts were slower than others (partly because my French skills still get me lost from time to time), but I definitely had some fav’rits, including two of the spoken word bits in the second act. There was a beautiful piece called ‘Violin a Vendre’, apparently a short story of LeClercs, presented here in radio-show style. Another bit followed, a more madcap romp involving a would-be widow played with gusto and glee by Marin, who is so much fun to watch onstage it should be illegal. Everyone was just grand…Richard Benard’s voice is just amazing, and Claude Naubert did killer work as the guitar-wielding troubadour for the duration. Lovely Frederique Therien sang beautifully, and showed some pretty sweet comic instincts along the way. And I especially dug Marc Andre Charette in an act 1 scene he shared with Benard, a great comic bit that had the audience in stitches.
The show fits the lovely Theatre de L’Ile space perfectly and, while not exactly a play, certainly kept me entertained mightily for its duration. Be prepared tho, and come ready to clap, smile and laugh. Foot stomping would also not be out of place, as the music is pretty fantastic and comes on strong throughout, right up to the powerful ending. The show runs until October 13th in the most beautiful theatre in the world, so get on out there. Peace, love and soul,
The Visitor (and Winston)