“S'il n'y avait pas d'enfants sur la Terre, il n'y aurait rien de beau”
-- Réjean Ducharme
(Photo credit: Nicolas Frank Vachon)
The Charms of Ducharme
A difficult play takes (verbal) flight in Montreal
by Nanette Soucy
At a time when visions of armies in riot gear are fresh in the memory, prime ministerial disregard for civil liberties is all that’s transparent about the government, laws change to interfere with the private lives of citizens, and a nation within a nation struggles to define itself in a country which at once disdains and seeks to own and profit from it, a story emerges.
It’s two individuals, at once dispossessed and self-possessed, wandering the universe in search of hospitality, to which, perhaps by clandestine prophecy, they are entitled. They meet, seduce, inspire, alter, assault, threaten and change a variety of unlikely characters along the way. They are Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza. They are le Petit Prince and his Rose. They show up, they change every thing, and wander off into the abyss to expire, leaving things so profoundly shifted that the sameness of the trashed room, the empty bottles, the popped balloons and the 70’s memorabilia strewn about is rendered absolutely eerie.
They are the young and creative and they need to be loved.
Ines Pérée (Catherine Larochelle) and Inat Tendu (Steve Gagnon), true to their names, are rejected as a matter of course, at every turn. They’re a pair of weird kids with big ideas, and with all the insecurity of the wandering extended-adolescent, a voracious need for a home and to be seen for who they are, their searching becomes their eventual undoing. In 1976, and during the play’s revival in the 1990’s, they may have been characterized as mentally ill, anomalous “child-adults”, but today they are a dude in corduroys and a girl without pants, in the streets by the tens of thousands daring to get in your way to demand an education, opportunity, equality. They are the young and creative and they need to be loved. They are those who will inherit the consequences of the policies enacted by the governments of their time. They are those we expose to kleptomaniacs and predators, as embodied by Miro Lacasse with all the cold, creepy sexiness they are due.
All that seems necessary to bring Réjean Ducharme’s 1976 script, complete with retro-themed set, into the 21st Century, is a coat of orange paint, complemented by faint and distant hues of dark and light blue and red, off in the distance, like so many riding offices, trashed after the un-hoped for and unexpected celebration of the orange crush in the wee hours of May 3rd 2011. Ducharme’s poetry and playfulness is as dense and intricate as it is clear and concise and Frédéric Dubois’ break-neck mise-en-scène allows the frenetic 2hrs and 10 minutes without intermission to reach an almost meditative height, an assertion of distinction, a celebration of the past occupying our present.
Ines Perée et Inat Tendu continues at the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui to March 14