Triplex Nervosa is the Centaur’s closer for this season and it is widely anticipated to be a hit. Written by Marianne Ackerman, the play is set in Mile End, where a young woman goes for broke, puts her artistic career on hold and buys a triplex in order to ensure herself some financial stability for her future. Her tenants and the previous owner however, do not cooperate with her plan and she and her handyman conspire to make his life miserable. This seeming clash of culture between old and new Mile End serves to remind us that we are all more alike than different and that in the end, all of our problems are the same. I had the chance to speak briefly with Marianne Ackerman about the show.
Angela Potvin (AP): Why did you write this play?
Marianne Ackerman (MA): I was having a bad week, month, year, in 2009, tearing my hair out over various practical problems, which seemed to be reaching a ludicrous crescendo. So I sat down at the kitchen table and began typing… The first draft of Triplex Nervosa flowed out quite naturally. I showed it to various theatre people but nothing happened until I entered the Infinitheatre new play competition in 2012, and got a public reading. After that I began focusing, and then Roy Surette took it on. I wrote this play to turn a series of very bad days into something that amused me. Personal anxiety became a lightning rod for a lot that was on my mind.
AP: How do you feel about Mile End and how it has changed over time?
MA: I discovered Mile End only when I came back from living in France in 2004, after an absence of seven years. As a long-time Plateau Rat, Mile End was the nether region of the north. My husband and I bought a house here at what I considered to be a ridiculously high price, but in retrospect was not. Frankly, my life is such a blur I haven’t noticed much change in the neighbourhood. Café Olympico is still my caffeine oasis. Latino is overpriced but great. PA has moved but is still the best. Otherwise, I live mainly in my head.
AP: Has your view of the piece changed throughout the rehearsal process?
MA: Not really. It’s always a jolt when other talents dive into a text and make it their own, but fortunately they’ve kept me as part of the process so now I can’t imagine it being any other way than with those actors, that set and Roy Surette’s amazing blend of firm and easy-going touch. I think the play is much stronger than when we started out, and yet nothing fundamental has changed. Which I imagine is the very best a playwright can hope for. However, the audience will tell us whether we’re crazy or what.
AP: How do you feel about seeing it come to life in front of you?
MA: It’s magical and scary. Sometimes I see a scene go by and wonder, what kind of drugs was I on? Is/was this me? No, no, it was the people I knew.
The cast for this show is nothing short of incredible, boasting such talent as Holly Ghautier-Frankel, Catherine Lemieux of recent Helix fame, Daniel Brochu, Karl Graboshas, Howard Rosenstein, Brett Watson and Kayleigh Choinière. They have so many credits between them that listing them all would take up the whole internet. Roy Surette, artistic director of the Centaur Theatre, is directing this himself. Further, local musician Patrick Watson has created the score. This is a bit of a Montreal dream team and I look forward to seeing what they can do.
Triplex Nervosa is playing at at the Centaur Theatre (453 St. Francois Xavier) from April 23 – May 17th, dark Mondays. Please check the website for show details.
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