2021 in evaluate: An ovation for the return of Montreal’s theatre scene

Such was the power of Montreal theatre’s comeback within the second half of the 12 months that many deserving productions didn’t make it to columnist Jim Burke’s prime 10 listing.

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It was a 12 months of experiments for a theatre scene pushed off the stage for therefore lengthy, earlier than returning in (comparatively) full drive by the autumn. Sadly, that comeback has turned out to be short-lived, however onward with this celebration of a 12 months of achievements in opposition to the chances.

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As theatres ventured again indoors, lots of them did so by dipping a single toe into the water. In different phrases, solo performances. Amongst them have been Joe Jack et John’s digital actuality creation Violette at Espace Libre, Infinithéâtre’s manufacturing of Mohsen El Gharbi’s Tunisian memoir Omi Mouna, and Leni Parker multi-tasking as The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead at Hudson Village Theatre.

Daniel Brochu enlisted audience members to help with his life-affirming list in Every Brilliant Thing.
Daniel Brochu enlisted viewers members to assist along with his life-affirming listing in Each Good Factor.Picture by Leslie Schachter

The 12 months’s prime 10 reveals (in no specific order)

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The King Stinks. Jon Lachlan Stewart and his firm Surreal SoReal Theatre explored presidential expectations on this splendidly absurd cartoon of a play. Dazzlingly carried out by Lachlan Stewart and Clara Prévost, it was introduced at La Sala Rossa as a part of Pageant Phénomena. Surreal SoReal additionally scored with a punky and witty adaptation of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, co-produced with Geordie Theatre at Théâtre Denise-Pelletier.

Sisyphus. Victor Pilon, of multimedia firm Lemieux Pilon 4D Artwork, spent a strong month shovelling 50 tons of sand from one pile to a different within the East Corridor of the Olympic Stadium. Without delay an emulation of the Greek fantasy and a gruelling act of grieving for a misplaced beloved one, it was additionally a surprisingly efficient, visually arresting piece of theatre.

Matthew Kabwe and Adrianne Richards rehearse Mob in March 2020, before the pandemic forced an end to the white-knuckle thriller’s run. They returned to Centaur Theatre for this year’s revival.
Matthew Kabwe and Adrianne Richards rehearse Mob in March 2020, earlier than the pandemic pressured an finish to the white-knuckle thriller’s run. They returned to Centaur Theatre for this 12 months’s revival.Picture by Allen McInnis /Montreal Gazette

Italian Mime Suicide. On this visiting manufacturing at Théâtre Aux Écuries, the Toronto firm Dangerous New Days riffed on the true story of a mime artist who killed himself as a result of no person took his craft critically. By doing so with such wonderful bodily expertise, they absolutely vindicated that craft whereas offering laughs and existential conundrums alongside the way in which, all backed by a implausible stay soundtrack from turntable artist SlowPitchSound.

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Ulster American. Many have been the gasps of disbelief from the viewers at La Licorne throughout David Eire’s brutal comedy, which sends up a very hideous pressure of poisonous masculinity. It additionally hilariously pits theatrical egos in opposition to the bloody politics of Northern Eire. A terrific francophone forged of Frédéric Blanchette, Lauren Hartley and David Boutin (as, respectively, a director, a playwright and a smug Hollywood actor) ensured a furiously entertaining night.

The Assertion. In her contribution to Ballet BC’s visiting trilogy, world-renowned choreographer Crystal Pite created a shocking hybrid of dance and Kafkaesque drama. Enjoying as a part of the Danse Danse season at Place des Arts, it featured 4 dancers miming to a recorded script whereas gesturing like some impossibly contorting alien species.

The Sighlence of Sky. Anana Rydvald’s one-woman mask-and-mime present, which Infinithéâtre introduced on the Kin Expertise gallery, was a touching, expertly carried out tribute to the resilience of a troubled member of the family.

Spiral / This Present Is Damaged. Joseph Ste-Marie’s This Present Is Damaged, an unflinchingly sincere meta-drama about dwelling with autism and self-doubt, struck me because the strongest of the Montreal Fringe’s on-line reveals. Of the stay reveals, it must be Michelle Soicher’s Spiral, which performed at Petit Campus and made marvellous use of an precise Rube Goldberg contraption to discover selection in an detached universe.

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