It was a jam-packed house for Quebec Drama Federation’s spring preview of English local theatre last night. True, the venue was a little more modestly-sized than for previous QDF events, being at the intimate black box Geordie Space at Berri 4001 (last year it was at Centaur, the year before at Segal) But there was plenty of enthusiasm for hosts Debbie Forde and Cassandra Togneri of QDF, and for the participants setting out their stall for the upcoming spring season, which includes Montreal’s first anglophone production of Tremblay’s Hosanna, the Festival TransAmeriques, crazed comedy Fuddy Meers, and, if you’ll indulge us, Centaur’s production of Triplex Nervosa, a Mile End-set comedy by Rover founder and editor Marianne Ackerman.
Podcast producers No More Radio were on hand to interview many of the artists involved, and several companies presented snippets of their upcoming shows. There follows a selection, in no particular order, of five of the productions that will be playing as Montreal moves from snow to slush to longed-for spring sunshine.
Trout Stanley: If you like your theatre raw, raucous and completely barking, AcidHawk’s production of Claudia Dey’s Trout Stanley might be just for you. A kind of Southern Gothic black comedy transposed to a tiny B.C. backwater, it’s about twin sisters who live by a garbage dump, are haunted by a dead body which resurfaces every year and are pestered by a male stripper who also happens to be a Scrabble Champ. AcidHawk describe themselves as an ad hoc theatre company whose brief is to champion women in comedy and theatre. (Montreal Improv, March 19-29)
Travesties: Actor-director Ellen David made two appearances last night, the first promoting Love, Loss and What I Wore, a comedy by the late Nora (Sleepless in Seattle) Ephron, which she directs for three performances at Centaur (and which has our own Anna Fuerstenberg in the cast). Then she spoke about Segal Centre’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Travesties, a characteristically cerebral comedy which imagines a meeting between James Joyce, Lenin and Tristan Tzara, the founder of Dadaism. David will be playing Nadezhda Krupskaya, Lenin’s wife. (Segal Centre, April 12-May 3)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Persephone Productions had considerable success with their musical of Wedekind’s Spring Awakeing last year. Their next show takes an even darker look at the volcanic force of bottled-up sexuality, with Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s masterly novella. The story may have been done to death in horror movies, spoofs, even Tweetie Pie cartoons, but Persephone take a fresh look at the material by casting several actors as the monstrous Mr Hyde. (Mainline Theatre, April 16-26)
The Tashme Project : The Living Archives: And speaking of Persephone, earlier this year the company presented Paul Van Dyck’s The Nisei and the Narnauk’, a playfully fantastical take on a gruelling subject, namely the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. That production took place at the MAI, and the same venue will be hosting an entirely different approach to the subject, namely Julie Tamiko Manning’s and Matt Miwa’s “oral history”, compiled from interviews conducted by Manning and Miwa with members of the Nisei community (as second-generation Japanese-Canadians are known). (MAI Centre, May 7-17)
random: Actor Lucinda Davis couldn’t make it last night to perform an excerpt from Debbie Tucker Green’s one-person play due to a broken ankle. But we’re assured she’s soldiering on and all will be well for this week’s opening of the show. Meantime Black Theatre Workshop director Quincy Armorer was on hand to tell us about this hard-hitting play, which explores the impact on the members of a London family, all played by Davis, following a brutal police raid on their house. Tucker Green is reckoned to be one of the most important British playwrights working right now, so this BTW-Imago co-production, directed by Micheline Chevrier, is a real coup. (MAI Centre, March 18-April 4)
You can find more information and download QDF’s Theatre Calendar brochure here.
Alex Woolcott is a freelance writer based in Montreal