Friday, September 18, 2015

Double your Tremblay

Sorry, I couldn't resist the near-pun in the title.

I've mentioned that I will be seeing Michel Tremblay's Yours Forever, Marie-Lou.  It just opened at Soulpepper, and I don't think there are any reviews yet.  I was thinking about switching dates, but it looks like I will have time to make it to the matinee, get home, spend a least some time with the family, then go back out for Nuit Blanche on Oct. 3.  So it is just easier to leave as is.

Anyway, things have been sneaking up on me while TIFF is in town.  It's not that I am particularly interested in TIFF, but it sucks up a lot of media attention.  It was only totally inadvertently that I saw the Drama Centre (which has ties with UT) is staging Tremblay's Albertine in Five Times (and that I had nearly missed my window for seeing it).  The first weekend is over, but there is one more weekend to go.  This doesn't work particularly well for me, as I am in Stratford the whole weekend, but I will just try to get in tonight (Friday).  I'm not entirely sure I have reserved my seat, but I think I shouldn't have too much trouble getting in.  I have a friend who considers this the most important play that Tremblay has written, so I just can't afford to pass it up.  The Mooney review was quite positive as well.  The translation is relatively new (about 5 years old) and is the one used in the Shaw festival production (not that I was around for that -- I believe I was still living in Chicago and Shaw was just not on the radar).

Here's a very short blurb about what to expect: "Michel Tremblay’s award-winning play places Albertine, a Québécois woman living a luckless life, in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood. Tremblay stages five Albertine’s at once, from age 30 to 70, for each decade of her life. Led by their sister Madeleine, they try to come to grips with a life filled with abuse, love, regret and happiness."  I would say, from the trailer, that I would probably have preferred a wider range of actual ages of the actors playing Albertine (they all appear to be mid 20s to early 30s), but suspension of disbelief, y'all.  (Indeed, the make-up is pretty reasonable, with the wildly varying hair colour the biggest issue that probably would have been fixed in a more professional production.)

These will make the second and third plays I've seen by Tremblay.  I saw For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again in Vancouver a few years back.  While I will keep my eyes out, particularly for Les Belles-soeurs (the one that is about those stamps that could be traded in for merchandise -- we actually had a place like that when I was growing up and I managed to get a covered cheese plate and something else for my mom, perhaps a vase), I think I've done a reasonable job of getting up on his work.  I don't see any current productions of Les Belles-soeurs, though it looks like there will be a French-language production in Saskatoon of all places in 2016.  I think that would be too much for me to handle, but I guess never say never if I have to go back out that way for work next year...

While this is only tangentially related due to the timeframe and geographic proximity, the new George F. Walker play We the Family plays at UT's Hart House over the next three weeks, and I am looking forward to going next Wednesday (23rd).  This is quite a coup for Hart House, since it is a world premiere of a Walker play!  Perhaps I shall see some of you there.

Update: I enjoyed Albertine in Five Times.  It takes several characters and incidents that also show up in The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant, but here things generally take the darkest possible outcome, whereas the novel is far more comic and even the most disturbing events are played for laughs.  As it happens, it is certainly possible that some of darker events, such as the death of Albertine's husband during the war and the troubled young adulthood of her children, could still come to pass in the third or fourth novel of les Chroniques du Plateau Mont-Royal.  However, I have a feeling that Tremblay exaggerated these episodes from his aunt's life, though I guess the only way to find out is to go ahead and read the series one day.  I am not sure, however, if Madeleine is a kind of stand-in for Tremblay's mother, since there doesn't appear to be any space left over on the family tree, but Tremblay's mother is even more citified than Albertine (in the novels at any rate).  Perhaps Tremblay essentially created this fortunate aunt who lived out in the countryside just as a imaginative counterpoint to his very urban family.  It does look like there is only a single show left tonight (Sept 19), so this is your last chance.  One thing that is a bit different is that they have few audience members come up on stage to interact with the Albertines as a pre-show warm-up.  I somewhat reluctantly agreed, and helped the 30 year-old Albertine fill in some school forms.  It was also very weird that they all vanished at the end of the show and none of the actors came back to take their bows.  I don't think I've ever seen that in any show I've watched.  How strange.

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