Always nice to find out about a cool-sounding production, even if it IS at kind of the last minute (seriously, I BEG you people…). And a cool French production at that? Shit yes, I’m in…as people may have noticed, I’m falling a bit shamefully behind on my posting these days, and could use something awesome to write about.
The awesome came at one of my fav’rit venues in the whole wide world, Studio Leonard-Beaulne on Ottawa U. campus, courtesy of Vanier-based company Theatre Tremplin in collaboration with Theatre la Catapulte. Deciding that it was no longer acceptable to let Bear and Company have all the Shakespearean fun this week, the Tremplin gang got themselves a French translation of HAMLET, the bard’s angstiest bit, courtesy of Jean Marc Dalpé. Making delightfully innovative use of the space and sparse staging, director Dillon Orr (recently doing wonderful things with Obviously A Theatre Company) sets the scene for a pretty damn killer evening of theatre. And the best part is, English speakers can just waltz on in and not worry about missing any of the language…it is, after all, HAMLET. I think you know the story.
…And, since I just talked myself out of doing my usual ‘quick plot summary’ bit, I’m free to chat about other things. Like the nice, low-key twist with several classic male roles being cast as women, and acknowledging it in the updated text to boot…Polonius, played by the terrific Jocelyne Lachance, is now Mother to two daughters, Laertes (a fierce Marie-Eve Fontaine) and Ophelia (the always wonderful Chloe Tremblay), instead of Father to a son and a daughter. It’s no big, I say, and integrated into the show so smoothly you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t already familiar with the story (which, okay, you totally are, but you see where I’m going). And otherwise, things proceed quite according to legend…our grim hero Hamlet (Antoine Cote-Legault, knocking it outta the park), aided and abetted by his best pal Horatio (Sylvain Sabatie) tortures himself working up the nerve to revenge himself upon his Father-killing Uncle Claudius (Jean-Phillipe Houle, a great presence on the stage…and Robert Lalonde is dandy too as the ghost of Hamlet’s Pa). And his issues with his Mother Gertrude (Chantal Tokarsky in an impressive performance) run deep indeed, especially given her whole ‘married to the villain’ status. Along the way there IS some levity…Jean Charbonneau and Guillaume Saindon have lots of fun as the travelling actors, while Eric Beevis and Alexandre Gauthier make a very merry Rosencrantz and Guildenstern indeed. Add in some sweet lighting from Sophie Ducharme and opulent music from composer Venessa Lachance, and you’ve got a pretty stellar production That is so very worth your time to catch. Did I mention cookies and coffee at intermission? Because those were pretty fucking amazing cookies.
HAMLET is my third Shakespeare of the year so far, and it’s got a very good fighting chance at being my fav’rit come year-end. Ottawa is a good town for some Bard, and it’s nice to see our Franco-buddies getting in on the fun. More, I say! The show runs until the 11th at SLB, 20 dollars at the door (or I think you can buy online in advance). Do yerself a favour and give it a look. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)