I’ve been in a bit of a theatre funk, post-Undercurrents. Is that okay? It seems a bit selfish, frankly, but being able to share the festival stage with the kinds of big shots and talented magillas that we did was pretty amazing, and the post-show ennui is a force to contend with (note: I know totally forgot to do a blogpost about my show, Faster than the Speed of Dating, being part of the 2017 Undercurrents Festival, so if the above confuses you, don’t worry, I just suck at marketing!). But funk or no funk, Theatre stops for nothing, especially not whiny suckybabies like me. And hey, is that my 1st GCTC opening night show in almost 2 years I see before me? Well hot damn, so it is. Right, funk over, let’s get to the show!
The show, 5th up in the 16/17 season and a bit of a milestone in even GCTC’s long history, is LES PASSANTS from the mighty Theatre la Catapulte. And yes, as that company name implies, this is indeed a French language production (no catapults though, here’s hoping for next time), first ever at the Irving Greenberg Theatre. Seems a little silly to think about it, but there you go…and if this is the beginning of a GCTC francotheatrical tradition, then it’s off to a terrific start. As was easily predicted from the involvement of Catapulte, Luc Moquin’s PASSANTS is a terrific show.
Featuring a cast consisting of Melanie Beauchamp, Benjamin Gaillard, Andree Rainville and Yves Turbide, and directed by Jean Stephane Roy (also the AD of Catapulte), Les Passants is made up of a series of vignettes and scenes each shining its own light…be it satirical, slapstick, serious, ironic, or all of the above…on human interconnectedness (or lack thereof, aka solitude). A somber opening featuring a ride on the river Styx (or something similar from Dante’s Inferno) and a lone man trying to remember his way and his why, quickly give way to lighter fare including the recurring romantic misadventures of the Waldo-esque Bernard and the series of women he tends to drive away with overzealous ardor. Or a mismatched long-term couple venting their mutual frustrations via interpretive dance. Or a fantasy vs.reality look at knocking on a strangers door in search of romance.
There’s a lot covered in PASSANTS’ 100 minute runtime, and if you don’t find something that relates to your experience, you might want to leave your house more. Not that homebodies aren’t covered well too, like the middle aged gent who realizes that, despite his best efforts, he just doesn’t (gasp!) like reading as much as he used to. The quartet cast slides effortlessly (probably not, of course, but they make it look as easy as falling off a log) between multiple roles and styles, be it deadpan serious or over-the-top goofy, assisted by a terrific overall production. Brian Smith’s set is all-encompassing and out of the way at the same time, and the lighting from designer Chantal Labonte is nothing short of astounding. The great Vanessa Imeson impresses as always with a dizzying array of costumes that seem to never run dry. And big thanks to Lisa L’Heureux, whose English translation of the script runs constantly over the stage, making this French production as inclusive as anyone could hope. No excuses, Anglos!
LES PASSANTS marks an exciting milestone in local theatre, and hopefully not a one of a mind event. I’ve long touted the wonders of French Theatre and the dazzlingly different sensibilities they bring to the theatrical table, and this show is as solid a proof of that as any. Check it out while you can at the Great Canadian Theatre Company, then check out something else! Ottawa U is presenting LE CHANT DU DIRE-DIRE next week at Academic Hall, and I’m calling that a good next step. Heck, I’ll be there. Allons-Y au theatre! Peace, love and soul,
PS now, back to our regularly scheduled funk: