Glengarry Glen Ross

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The cast of Glengarry Glen Ross check their brass balls. Photo: Olivier Ross-Parent

Produced by Acts to Grind Theatre at Mainline Theatre, Nov. 7 to 18.

Notoriously fueled by “the heat generated by men”, David Mamet’s searing 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winner Glengarry Glen Ross might be considered an outdated relic in this #MeToo era. Or is its exposé of the devastation wrought by toxic masculinity more timely than ever? In any case, it is, on first glance, an unusual – and on second glance, pretty apt — choice for Acts To Grind Theatre, whose repertoire usually revolves around Queer-centric themes, the kind of diversity, in fact, mocked and excoriated by Mamet’s panic-stricken, misogynistic, homophobic and racist wannabe Alpha males.

Mamet’s glitteringly filthy dialogue has earned his play the nickname Death of a Fucking Salesman, and it’s a telling sign of the times that its depiction of capitalism as a seething piranha pool has been performed more often, at least here in Montreal, than Arthur Miller’s equally critical but much more genteel approach. Glengarry got a Segal production back in 2014 (which I didn’t catch) and a superb francophone production at Théâtre du Rideau Vert in 2016. Last year, Brigitte Poupart brought her all-female version to Usine C.

Acts to Grind Theatre, then, is the fourth Montreal company to tackle the play in as many years, though squeezed finances have forced it into a much smaller space than those others. No matter — the Mini-Main at Mainline Theatre is just the kind of space that should capture the pressure cooker atmosphere of the characters’ situation as they fight to survive the play’s famous sales competition (first prize: a Cadillac, second prize: a set of steak knives, third prize: you’re fired).

Sometimes it does. One of the strongest scenes is that between Aaronow and Moss, here played by Michael Aronovitch and Jake Caceres respectively. The disgruntled Moss is planning to rob the office of its file of most promising leads, and he cajoles the relatively honest (read “weak” in this context) Aaronow not only into going along with the heist but potentially taking the fall. The way it’s played here makes Moss’s masterfully amoral gamesmanship and Aaronow’s hapless entanglement as clear and as compelling as I’ve seen it.

The scene is one of three First Act duologues all set in a Chinese restaurant, all demonstrating the salesmen’s capacity for combining ruthless combativeness with shameless wheedling. In the first of them, one-time hotshot but now ageing has-been Shelly Levene is trying to persuade slimy office boss Williamson to slip him some of those precious leads. On the night I saw it (to be fair, just a day after the show’s opening), Zag Dorison, as Levene, lost control of Mamet’s seemingly chaotic but actually unforgivingly precise dialogue, throwing the all-important rhythm of the scene out of wack. Overall, Dorison made a strong stab at suggesting Levene’s sweaty, whiny desperation, but didn’t really convey the grit that had once earned him the nickname Levene the Machine. Bryan Libero, who was terrific as a troubled, potentially murderous teen in the company’s production of Brad Fraser’s True Love Lies, gets Williamson’s stiff arrogance just right, but looks ill-at-ease in his “reaction shots.”

Izak Benrobi is silky smooth as star salesman Ricky Roma  (is he channeling a bit of Brando there?), but could do with a bit more connection with his co-performers too, nowhere more so than when he’s sharing the space with the show’s director, Davyn Ryall, who plays customer and easy mark James Lingk. No doubt budget constraints forced Ryall to step in to what might be seen as a largely reactive role, but his under-powered performance leaves a seduction/selling scene with Roma falling flat, and undermines what should be the tightening tension of the second act when Lingk begins to wriggle on the hook that Roma has baited for him.

As with most productions nowadays, this one borrows the famous scene added in the movie version where Alec Baldwin’s motivational speaker brings along his brass balls to pulverize the under-performing losers of the Mitch and Murray sales office. It works nicely here, Olivier Ross-Parent making for a repellent and reptilian Blake, staring down his victims who sit there like sulky children. The inclusion of the film’s exposition-heavy phone calls works less well and interferes with the play’s carefully calibrated structure. It’s missteps like this that prevent the pressure cooker from generating enough heat, but it’s an enjoyable enough production with some individual moments of power and vicious comedy.

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An interview with Birthmark author Stephen Orlov

Birthmark-D. Charafeddine, N. Tannous photo by Jaclyn Turner

Dalia Charafeddine and Natalie Tannous in Birthmark. Photo: Jaclyn Turner

Boston-raised, Montreal-based playwright Stephen Orlov is the author of Birthmark, a new play currently showing at the MAI Centre in a production from Teesri Duniya Theatre. It’s the second part of his trilogy of plays about members of the Jewish-Palestinian Diasporas living in Montreal and revolves around David Stein, a secular Jew whose son, Nelson, is drawn to Orthodox extremism.

The first part, Sperm Count, premiered in London, UK, in 2001 and was published two years ago in the groundbreaking anthology Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish-Palestinian Diasporas (Playwrights Canada Press), which Orlov edited with Samah Sabawi. He is currently working on the third part, Engagement.

Orlov joined me for a coffee to talk about Birthmark and other related matters. A part of this interview was published in the Montreal Gazette.

 

Tell me about Birthmark.

It takes place 20 years after Sperm Count, so that the “sperm” character is now a 21 year old McGill University student called Nelson who’s drawn to ultra-Orthodoxy and wants to go and join a settlement in a remote area of the West Bank. Which of course sends up fireworks for his father who’s a secular liberal Jew.

There’s also a carry-over to a Palestinian mother, Jamila, who, in the first play, is part of a telephone conversation but we never hear her voice or see her as a character. It was her egg that was part of a mix-up the fertility clinic that created the suspense in Sperm Count.

When Nelson tells his father his plans to quit McGill and go to join the settlement, David plays his last trump card and says ‘you can’t go, you might not even be a Jew’ and finally reveals the family secret. And so Nelson has to go off and find Jamila to try and do a DNA test. She won’t do it, partly because she and her husband (who is deceased) adopted a Palestinian girl from a refugee camp and she doesn’t want to confuse her identity.

So you have this situation between a Jewish and a Palestinian family, which feeds the tension, which is intensified when Jamila’s daughter Karima ends up mysteriously disappearing, provoking an RCMP investigation.

 

Do audiences need to have seen or read Sperm Count to appreciate Birthmark?

 

Birthmark does emerge from Sperm Count, but it does totally stand on its own. There are only a few references and absolutely no repeating of snippets from the first play. It deals thematically with settlements and with the issue of Jewish radicalism, but ultimately the politics is the backdrop. The heart of the play is family drama with some dark comedic moments.

 

Part of the humour of Sperm Count revolved around a wisecracking sperm character. Is there a similar touch of surreal humour in Birthmark?

 

I would say that both plays have surreal scenes in them. There is a nightmare scene, as there was in Sperm Count.  I think in terms of comedy and drama, I would say there’s probably a similar balance, but I would say that the stakes are higher.

 

The unprecedented nature of your anthology, Double Exposure, suggests the rarity of putting sympathetic Palestinian characters on stage. Do you see progress being made?

 

It was a toxic situation after 9/11. You could write a play with an empathetic Palestinian character, but the chances of getting it produced weren’t high. There were two bomb threats when Sperm Count opened in London. But there has clearly been a shift, and it’s reflected in public opinion. There’s a more balanced attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And companies like Teesri Duniya have not shied, during any period, from tackling this on stage. But what’s significant now is that you have some major theatres that are staging plays on the theme, like the Lincoln Centre’s premiere of Oslo, which Théâtre Jean-Duceppe just did in French. That, and the anthology, definitely reflects a change, but it’s still very difficult to get plays about the conflict on stage in major theatres, even if there has been a breakthrough with Oslo.

 

The issue of cultural appropriation is obviously very much in the air. Did this give you pause when tackling Palestinian characters?

 

As a Jewish writer, my greatest challenge is creating Palestinian characters with an authentic voice. That voice has to be true to their world, their culture and their times. I don’t want to write plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Jews talking to themselves. That’s not theatre. Theatre is dramatic conflict, and so if I can’t create Palestinian characters I just fall short of my goal of trying to write plays that, hopefully, contribute a better understanding by giving voice to both. But having said that, you have to pay your dues, so it means that you talk to Palestinians, and you listen, and you read the poetry. It’s not just about the politics. The challenge is to go beyond rhetoric.

What’s difficult is creating characters with authentic voices in a non-stereotypical way that also understands family relations between generations.

These are Diaspora plays, so I’m not writing about Palestinian characters in Gaza, I’m writing Palestinian characters who came from Gaza, and the West Bank, and I have to find the rhythm of their language, the syntax of their language. How they speak in English is reflected by the lyricism of their Arabic.

I also had to cross the ghetto wall into the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. In the community I was brought up in, there were no Orthodox Jews, it wasn’t until I came to Montreal that I met some. So that world was foreign to me too, and I also had to cross that wall.

 

What’s the most significant political development in Jewish-Palestinian relations since you wrote Sperm Count?

 

The Settlements. It’s a major stumbling block to any kind of peace negotiations, much more so than when I was writing Sperm Count. Of course Sperm Count was set after the Carter administration — when they negotiated with Begin and Sadat they moved 5000 settlers out of Sinai. Now there are 750,000 settlers on the Palestinian land of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. So the settlement issue is really at the forefront. I regret that Birthmark is more timely than Sperm Count was, because of that reality.

 

What’s next in the lives of David Stein and Jamila Hassan?

 

The third of my trilogy, Engagement, which I’ve got a Canada Council grant to write, is set in the past May, during the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem. The same four characters appear, but the stakes are even higher. It’s set partly in Montreal, and partly in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

 

Birthmark plays at the MAI Centre to Nov. 18, 2018. Read my review here.

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Birthmark

Birthmark- H. Rosenstein, P. Keeler, photo by Jaclyn Turner

Howard Rosenstein (left) and Patrick Keeler in Birthmark. (Photo: Jaclyn Turner)

Written by Stephen Orlov. Directed by Liz Valdez and Michelle Soicher.

Produced by Teesri Duniya Theatre. MAI Centre, Nov. 3 to 18.

Last seen as a cocky little sperm wondering about his future, the only begotten son of David Stein has come a long way since Stephen Orlov first conceived him in Sperm Count, his 2001 play set amongst the Jewish and Palestinian diasporas in Montreal.

Now 21 years-old and burdened with the uncertainty of a mix-up at the infertility clinic, Nelson Stein is a 20-something McGill student with Zionist convictions and a hankering to go and live on an illegal settlement somewhere on the West Bank. That’s a problem for his father David who is secular, left wing and wholeheartedly opposed to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

Although Birthmark is technically a sequel, it can be enjoyed in its own right as Orlov quickly brings us up to speed with the Steins’ backstory: Nelson came about through in vitro treatment, his mother died soon after due to complications with the birth, and he has, thus far, been kept in the dark that his biological mother might well be a Palestinian woman called Jamila Hassan.

The production, mounted by Teesri Duniya Theatre (who recently won a META for their tireless championing of diversity), reunites Howard Rosenstein and Patrick Keeler, last seen working wonderfully together in Infinithéâtre’s Honesty Rents by the Hour. There, they were two men who meet up as part of a casual threesome in a seedy motel. Here, there’s obviously an entirely different dynamic going on as they play a father and son drawn closer by family trauma but driven apart by bitter political differences. There are some powerfully charged moments as the two of them hammer out those intractable differences.

Natalie Tannous gives a strong, heartfelt performance too as Jamila, a Palestinian single mom torn between resisting and granting Nelson’s search for the truth of his origins. If he is, after all, Jewish, he’ll be accepted into the settlement — chalk up one more victory to the Zionist occupiers. If he’s her biological son, then he’s related, awkwardly enough, to her daughter, Karima (Dalia Charafeddine), a Concordia student and a radical champion of the Palestinian cause. Keeler and Charafeddine also have an entertaining and provocative set-to over the politics of suffering, which is given an amusing twist by their realizing that she once kicked him in the balls during the chaos of a student protest and counter-protest.

The story also becomes a mystery when Karima disappears, possibly under ISIS-related circumstances (Stephen Spreekmeester playing a churlish RCMP agent as well as Nelson’s radicalizing rabbi).

Those searing debates are the main strength of Orlov’s writing, but their impact is muffled by the scattered structure with which he’s chosen to tell his story. Characters constantly walk into and out of scenes which sometimes last no more than a line or two. Knocks on doors, skype alerts and telephone calls add to the bitty feel and impair the flow and focus. Some topping and tailing, and perhaps some merging, of scenes would tidy things up no end and focus the play on what matters: that unending death-struggle between Israel and Palestine and how its dark gravity is drawing a new generation of the Diaspora back into its orbit.

***

Sperm Count, which was published recently in Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas, is one of the finalists in a new drama category added this year to the Quebec Writers’ Federation awards. The other finalists are When Memories Have Us (Paul Van Dyck), Truth and Treason (Rahul Varma) and Paradise Lost (Erin Shields). The winner will be announced on Nov. 20.

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Huff

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Written and performed by Cliff Cardinal. Directed by Karin Randoja. Produced by Cunning concepts and creations.

Théâtre La Licorne, Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, 2018

However much most Canadians might have been indifferent to life on the reserves down the decades, audiences are unlikely to maintain a dispassionate air throughout the first few minutes of Huff, Cliff Cardinal’s one-man play about an Indigenous boy called Wind who, along with his two brothers, is struggling to cope with the suicide of his mother. Cardinal appears with a plastic bag duct-taped over his head, his hands bound, describing in casual but chilling detail the process of death by auto-asphyxiation as his oxygen runs out.

It’s a tricksy attention grabber, with the suggestion that Cardinal is being a bit of a Trickster, the character of Indigenous folklore whom he introduces and who is responsible for the twists of fate, rotten luck or just every day absurdities. But in a tale that involves suicide, arson, sexual abuse, solvent abuse (the huffing of the title comes from the practice of sniffing gas from a paper bag), parental cruelty and the tribulations of a generation lost to the residential school system, there’s nothing facile about that gut-wrenching opening image.

If all this suggests the next 70 minutes or so will be a misery fest of unrelenting proportions, you can gasp a breath of relief that Cardinal is a playful performer with a keen sense of physical comedy. There’s something of a young Robin Williams (granted, that’s a bit of a downer of a name-check nowadays) in the way he manically shape-shifts from one character to another: Wind and his brothers, their dad and stepmom, a rat-faced residential school teacher, a Looney Tunes-style skunk, even the skunk’s smell, embodied as a sad lisping loner who just wants to hang around for a spell.

Cardinal wrote Huff while still a student at the National Theatre School, and it sometimes feels as though he’s chucking everything in to make an effect as he races through twenty or so characters and conjures up family rows, surreal game shows, Sega sessions and the like. But he has a real instinct for juggling with a myriad of moods, knowing just when to rein things in or break a somber moment with a sudden burst of wacky humour.

The show is perhaps at its most moving, and most hopeful, when Huff enjoins an audience member to help him out of that Ziploc-bagged predicament, and later quietly thanks him when he refuses to hand back the instrument of his own destruction.

Huff, which won two Dora awards, is playing as a rare English production at Théâtre La Licorne, with surtitles translated by Étienne Lepage.

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Other People’s Children

 

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Brett Donahue as Ben, Kathleen Stavert as Ilana in Other People’s Children.

Written by Hannah Moscovitch. Directed by Micheline Chevrier.

Produced by Imago Theatre at Centaur Theatre, Oct. 25 to Nov. 4, 2018

Anybody who caught the production of Hannah Moscovitch’s Little One at Centaur’s Wildside a couple of years ago will be familiar with the Toronto-based playwright’s adeptness at showing the painful fractures in close, claustrophobic relationships. There, the relationship was between a guilt-ridden brother and his scarily sociopathic adopted sister. In Other People’s Children, a modern power couple — globetrotting businessman Ben and corporate lawyer Ilana – are stuck in a corrosive marriage, partly because of the emotional problems surrounding the arrival of their first baby, partly because a massage in Hanoi resulted in a happy ending for Ben, if not for his home situation.

Ben and Ilana’s solution for at least one of these crises is to bring in a live-in nanny, recent Sri Lankan immigrant Sati, and the stage is set for a brisk three-hander rife with bubbling tensions to do with invading personal spaces and crossing cultural and moral boundaries.

Moscovitch (whose musical Old Stock: a Refugee’s Story comes to the Segal this December) is particularly skilled at creating dialogue which zig-zags between evasion and confrontation, and occasionally switches back to a forgotten thought like a dog going back for a dropped morsel – it might be described as Mamet-ian, though without the brash macho swagger.

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Asha Vijayasingham as Sati in Other People’s Children

It’s a style that’s particularly apposite to the story Moscovitch is telling in that it involves a privileged couple torn between awareness of what’s appropriate in their dealings with a vulnerable, perhaps traumatized employee, and their own selfish impulses.

The play, here given a sleek, visually impressive production by Imago Theatre, revolves around that classic set-up of a mysterious outsider entering into domestic territory, though in this case most of the menace comes from the home team, as Ben and Ilana walk thoughtlessly into Sati’s bedroom, or unwittingly (maybe knowingly?) make too-personal conversational gaffes. Moscovitch skillfully turns the screws, escalating what begins as a comedy-of-embarrassment into something more disturbing.

Micheline Chevrier’s direction exerts a grip from the off, and the trio of actors play off one another with impressively layered performances: Brett Donahue’ Ben dripping with insincere bonhomie and blokeish charm, Kathleen Stavert’s Ilana simmering with self-recrimination over what she sees as insufficient maternal feelings, and Asha Vijayasingham’s eager-to-please Sati suppressing the pain of being ripped away from her own children by directing her affections in unexpected directions.

Structurally, it’s a bit of an old-fashioned play which now and then strays into the territory of soap opera-ish shock revelations. But the theme of First World privilege preying on the desperation of the bulk of humanity is all-too contemporary, and Moscovitch, fast becoming one of Canada’s foremost playwrights, gives it a gripping, often sardonically funny spin.

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Shakespeare’s Sonnets : Transforming the Voices of Montreal

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Holly Gauthier-Frankel and Amir Sám Nakhjavani in Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Transforming the Voices of Montreal

Presented by Infinithéâtre. Directed by Guy Sprung.

Moyse Hall, McGill University, Oct. 22 to 27, 2018

Shrewd move on Infinithéâtre’s part: having been blessed, and, it must sometimes feel, burdened, with a strict mandate to produce only Quebec-centric plays, they’ve turned to Shakespeare’s sonnets, getting around that funding requirement by transforming them into the words spoken by a myriad of Montreal folk. Thus we get partners in a same-sex marriage, Centreville shoppers, a busking folksinger (who gets the audience to singalong to the projected words of Sonnet 27), a Billie Holliday-style blues singer on her balcony, a bag lady on the Mont Royal (who asks of her reflected image the Sonnets’ most famous line: shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?), and so on, all the way through 32 of Shakespeare’s perfectly formed musings on love, lust, ageing and mortality.

It’s a good-humoured, often jokey celebration (with some heart-stabbing pangs along the way) of Shakespeare’s words, performed by an affable cast which includes such familiar Montreal faces as Ellen David, Shawn Campbell, and Holly Gauthier-Frankel, alongside Charles Bender, Carmen Grant, Amir Sám Nakhjavani, Mariah Inger and Manouchka Elinor. Those faces, though, are concealed by half-masks when they take turns to speak the rhymes. It’s those eerie, comical and startlingly expressive masks, brought along by mask-master Brian Smith, that give a real lift to the production (Smith and Sprung worked together on a Shakespeare’s sonnets project at the Stratford Festival in 2014). You’d be hard-pressed to recognize even the most familiar actor on stage at given times, not just because their faces are behind those masks, but because wearing them radically alters the shape of bodies and the pitch of voices. Carmen Grant, for instance, transforms herself flawlessly into an arthritic but cheerful old geezer, while Ellen David (at least I think it was her) shape-shifts into a stiffly officious old gent performing a wedding ceremony.

The show is being put on in partnership with McGill’s English department (and the Early Modern Conversions project), and there’s a bit of an informal make-do feel to the production, not least because of the black-blocks-and-bleachers performance space, which give it the look of a drama department rehearsal hall. Projected images of Montreal cityscapes bring some welcome visual panache.

Sometimes, the clarity of the words gets muddied under the masks. At other times the meaning is spelled out (can we have a break from actors illustrating the Bard’s bawdy quibbles by thrusting the hips and erecting a forearm?). And the lights-down-lights-up presentation makes the structure seem bitty rather than it having a sense of a through-line – only occasionally do we get a single character developing over the course of more than one sonnet.

But really it’s Montreal itself that is the character, and the rich variety both of the city and the moods of the sonnets are captured by the colorful tapestry of personalities, settings, even typefaces (at one point, a sonnet is projected as phone-texting between lovers, followed by an intimate pixelated pic.)

It might have been interesting, if only to touch on an obvious facet of life in Montreal, to transform one or two of the sonnets into Québécois French, a language that works well in Shakespeare, as witnessed by Michel Garneau’s “joual” Macbeth. But as director Guy Sprung said during the curtain call, this is a production that, like much of Montreal, is under construction, so who knows what route they might be diverted down in some future iteration?

UPDATE:  Director Guy Sprung passed on this news: “David Schalkwyk, the internationally renowned Shakespeare Scholar, Professor at Queen Mary College, University of London, former editor of Shakespeare Quarterly and the Director of Research of the Folger  Shakespeare Library, was there on opening night. Yesterday (Oct. 23) he gave a public lecture organized by the McGill Department of English, entitled ‘Shakespeare’s Voice’. He began his talk with an astonishing complement to our work, saying it was: ‘an extraordinary embodiment of Shakespeare’s sonnets’. He went on to confess that if he had seen our production earlier he would have ripped up his paper and started anew. Then throughout the talk he continued to make positive references to the actors and our ‘play’. It was a true vindication of our work and an example of how artists can be on the cutting edge of ‘research’ into academic perception of the literary heritage of humankind.”

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Le Cid

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Gabriel Plante’s ruthless deconstruction of Le Cid at La Chapelle. Photo: Hugo B Lefort

Adapted and directed by Gabriel Plante.

La Chapelle, Oct. 10 to 19, 2018

It’s too late to experience Gabriel Plante’s ruthless deconstruction of Corneille’s classical tragedy Le Cid – I caught the final performance last Friday in one of two surtitled performances that La Chapelle presented during its 10 day run. I’ll admit, I found most of it unbearable, but I think that was the intention.

Plante’s version leaves us with the absolute basics of the love-triangle plot of Corneille’s play: The Spanish Infanta loves Don Rodrigue. He loves Chimène. When Rodrigue kills Chimène’s father in a duel, he’s honour-bound to go fight the Moors. The Moors dub Rodrigue Le Cid, or “the Lord,” for his bravery. Honour is restored.

The flowery Alexandrine poetry of the dialogue is pruned back to a few guttural, oft-repeated phrases. The characters’ lofty impulses are reduced to primal spasms of lust, aggression and self-pity. The usual two-hour-plus playing time is compressed into an hour’s-worth of strobe, smoke and sonic bombardment.

The opening stretch has Rodrigue and Chimène making out in an alcove at the back of the stage while the Infanta whines, wails and gibbers down a microphone and manically shakes the scenery. It goes on forever and seems designed to provoke uncomfortable titters and shuffling in the audience.

Experiencing a show like this had me asking myself several questions: can a piece of art that sets your teeth on edge have more aesthetic value than one that gives you comfort? Is there more truth in a tragedy that degrades and mocks the characters rather than one that raises them to an impossible dignity? Have the classics had their day? Who gets to decide the “proper” way of playing them? Can I go home now?

So, yes, on one level, I couldn’t stand the bloody thing – the wading-through-molasses pacing, the unrelenting screeching, gibbering and wailing down microphones – and, by the way, hasn’t that Wooster Group-ish overuse of microphones become more of a stage cliché than any of the stuffy classics these deconstructionists aim to send up?

And yet the brilliance of much of the staging, as well as Plante and his cast’s absolute commitment to the waywardness of his vision, made it impossible to dismiss. The combination of smoky haze and spectral, colour-shifting light sources dotted about the stage made for simple but effective spectacle. The spooky, scraping soundscape mixed with distorted classical Baroque music added immensely to the atmosphere. Several coups de theatre – for instance, an illuminated recess busting out of the darkness – still stick in the mind.

At shows like this, I usually find myself resorting to “The Fall test”. You possibly know The Fall as an ornery Manchester band whose early use of flat vocals and out-of-tune janglings could barely be called music, at least not in the conventional sense. And yet to their fans (and I’d count myself among them at various times throughout their thirty year existence), they’re essential listening. Like The Fall, Plante (who recently adapted Rabelais at Théâtre Denise-Pelletier) is very likely an acquired taste. Maybe his next “album” will have me hollering and stamping along, just like the audience did at the end of this manic, piss-taking mash-up of Le Cid.

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