I read with great interest Pat Donnelly’s long article in the Gazette – wondering if the fact she’d seen 4 good plays in as many night was a sign of a resurgence in the English Montreal Theatre scene. While I’m all for a resurgence – i don’t think that seeing 4 good plays in a week is a record – I’ve seen play after good play for years.
Unfortunately, while Pat saw great plays – I suffered thru 2 plays in 2 evenings that were both questionable. Both were so slow-paced they actually had me sleeping. Not good people.
The first was ‘Cornered’ at my absolute favorite English theatre Venue – the Bain St. Michel. I’ve seen such great theatre there – and I have the greatest respect for Guy Sprung. But Cornered was directed by Paul Van Dyck – and it was a terrible let-down. For starters – the accents of the actors was so heavy – so ‘put-on’ that it left a great many of the customers the night I was there wondering what was going on. And the answer was – not much . It’s a rather pointless story, with little to recommend it, spoken by good actors putting on such heavy accents as to render the story incomprehensible to an English speaker. And if English wasn’t my first language – which was the case for most of the underwhelming small crowd of people there on Wednesday night – well – it was a complete waste of time.
My 2nd loser – the heavily advertised, and well re-reviewed ‘Trad’ at Centaur. The set was lovely, the music fun – but again – the actors put on fake Irish accents – and unfortunately – in doing so rendered huge sections of the play almost incomprehensible. I got the idea – they are both old – and thus live in a past that is more exciting than the current present. But was it absolutely necessary to tell the story in accents I didn’t understand. What is the point. It didn’t make me think better of the characters – it just made me go to sleep. Again – audience discussion tended to agree with me – This was not a great production. It wasn’t even a good one. Sorry Sidemark and Centaur. You may have delivered for Pat – but you didn’t deliver for me. Or the people sitting in front of me.
But good news – There’s more English theatre here in Montreal this week – including the Mahalia Jackson tribute at the Segal Centre that has garnered rave reviews from several of my friends. Lots to hopefully enjoy. Just please, please, please – don’t put me to sleep.
Hi Montreal Madame
Just came across your musings about my play. This is the first bad review I’ve seen of it. I’m tempted to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw when one person booed his play during a standing ovation: “I agree with you, madame, but what can we two do against so many?”
Seriously, I appreciate you coming to see it and taking the time to comment on it. Sorry this one didn’t work for you.
(Just to clarify – this comment is about ‘Cornered’ – from Rabbit in the Hat Production at the Bain St. Michel, not ‘Trad’ – produced at Centaur.)
Hi back at ya. I have to tell you – the audience the night I was at the ‘Bain’ was primary french speaking younger people – and they were totally and completely lost. I took a straw poll as we were walking out – and the comments consisted essentially of – “Did you understand what they were saying?” – “Nope – not a word”. Which of course agreed with my impression. The accents were so thick as to make the English incomprehensible to a majority of the people in attendance that evening. When you don’t understand the words – and when the text is the point of the theatre piece – you’ve got a problem. I had trouble staying awake – and English is my first language. My pledge to my readers is to be honest. And honestly – I didn’t like it. I’m sorry. Really wish I had liked it. Maybe next time.