Philippe Lambert puts a French twist on David Greig and Gordon McIntyre’s Midsummer. Translated by Olivier Choinière, and directed by Philippe Lambert, this musical play does not miss a beat in its third presentation at Théâtre La Licorne. It’s a wildly creative take on the classic boy-meets-girl story, where a pair of 35-year-olds in Edinburgh get together for what they think is just a one-night stand, only to be sent back to each other by a series of serendipitous events. Helena (Isabelle Blais) is a somewhat serious lawyer-type, while Bob (Pierre-Luc Brillant) makes his living as a middle-man in the illicit car trade. When Bob holds on to a bag of $15,000 in cash that should have been deposited into his boss’s bank account, he convinces Helena to spend it all with him that night.
The audience is immediately drawn in, sitting before a couple telling the story of how they met, while watching them act out their narratives simultaneously. With each new event comes an aside in the form of a song, a soliloquy, or a playful argument over what really happened. For instance, we see Bob having a hilarious conversation with his penis accompanied by guitar, and later, an intimate and philosophical tête-à-tête with the crowd about his life. In these moments, the audience is invited to glimpse into the characters’s psyches in order to better understand their true feelings.
The play is funny and melancholic with a good dose of whimsy. To classify it as a mere romantic-comedy would not capture the multiple layers of talent that Isabelle Blais and Pierre-Luc Brillant bring to the stage. With a single leather glove, Blais transforms into a small-time crime boss. A trench coat and a fedora and she’s a shady man dealing in hot cars. From singing and playing guitar, to taking on a range of colourful characters, and even an impromptu shadow-puppet show, the pair are magnificent together. Their playful banter conveys a great level of intimacy and friendship, while also juxtaposing the ephemeral nature of the storyline. In their willingness to say yes and seize the day, they ultimately show us that we can change our lives, if we just give it a try.
The show runs at Théâtre La Licorne (4559 Papineau) until May 30th. M-Th 7 p.m. F 8 p.m. $32/22. Show is in French with 2 shows with English subtitles on Friday May 23rd and 30th. You can also pick up the official album featuring all of the music from the play for only $10 at the theatre.