Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: (Toronto / Theatre) Trudeau and the FLQ

A Fab Trip back to the Birth of Separatism 
by Spencer Malthouse

So Trudeau and the FLQ presented by VideoCabaret, part of the History of the Village of the Small Huts series, was profound in two distinct ways. Allow me to start with the historical before progressing to the histrionic. 

In the first, it’s hard to imagine a more pertinent topic in the wake of the PQ’s shattering defeat Monday. Writer/director Michael Hollingsworth strongly suggests that the Parti Quebecois was born of the alienation of Quebeckers during the FLQ crisis and the War Measures Act. He portrays the FLQ as a small band of radicals and hippies committed to creating a revolution for the sake of revolution. Trudeau, meanwhile, is a proud idealist determined to put Quebec in its place (inside of Canada). Separatism, Hollingsworth argues, was born of arrogant radicalism on both sides.  

In the second profundity, VideoCabaret presents an intense audio-visual experience that is as weird as it is captivating. In the context of theatre struggling to re-efine itself in the age of accessible quality cinema, this well-established troupe has perfected a style that is a delightful parody of both mediums spliced with camp frivolity. Gorgeous costumes and a funkalicious soundtrack complement the technical genius of the show. 

The cast is immensely talented and energetic. Mac Fyfe’s Trudeau looks like Robert Pattinson playing Heath Ledger’s Joker, but his voice, mannerisms, and hilarious eyes capture Trudeau with just the right mix of flamboyance and acerbity. The portrayal is lovingly critical. While all of the other actors are to be commended for their plethora of dynamic characters, Michaela Washburn stood out for her incredibly distinct characters and her lovably lisping, weak-kneed Lester Pearson. 

This show is captivating and despite its lengthy two and a half hours I found myself eagerly anticipating each scene. I do think that some of the excess dialogue and a scene or two could have been cut in order to tighten the run. In addition, the cast members really must perfect their Quebecker h’accents. This is Trudeau and the FLQ – identity and nationalism based fundamentally in language – so you really need to get the accents right. 

Go see this play. Do it now. I recommend Trudeau and the FLQ and all VideoCabaret shows to everyone regardless of your interest in Canadian political history or theatre. You will enjoy it. 

April 3 - May 10

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