Just not great – Centaur Theatre does Leonard Cohen – oh dear!


Last night I spent almost 2 hours alternating between – “wow, that’s cool” and “Boring.. Totally boring”

The cause of my bipolar response – Centaur Theatre’s production of “Dance me to the on/off of Love” There were moments of brilliance interspersed with long periods of pointless but beautiful movement which left me wondering what was the point.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Leonard Cohen’s music and poetry. He is capable of flights of ideas that leave his listeners stunned in the wake. But this piece of theatre didn’t build up Leonard’s music and song – it deconstructed it. Tore it apart to create some interesting visual effects, but left me feeling sorry I’d spent the money and time to be there.

First though, let me describe the piece. Set on a completely dark stage, most effects are done by playing with lights and about 30 skulls. Musicians double as the singers, or singers double as musicians, it’s hard to tell because sometimes the music is deliberately performed off-key and breathless. My favorite pieces, and remember that in between I often dozed off (not good, Centaur – not good) were Sisters of Mercy, I’m your Man (performed with stick whips – very neat), Ring The Bell, and ‘the encore’ piece – “Coming Home”. Bottom line – Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris (Mainline) or the Mahalia Jackson Musical with Renee Lee at the Segal Centre are much better bets. There is juist too much filler between the good parts in this peace for me to recommend you going to see it.

A slight disclaimer – the theatre was about 1/2 full – which isn’t good. But of the people there – plenty really seemed to enjoy the piece, including yelling out “Bravo” and giving the performers a standing ovation. Go figure. I guess that’s what makes horse races.