Hosanna is Tremblay’s Finest

Hosanna. Davide Chiazesse and Eloi ArchamBaudoin. Photo Andrée Lanthier Hosanna. Davide Chiazesse and Eloi ArchamBaudoin. Centaur Theatre. Photo Andrée Lanthier

Michel Tremblay is the master of the “two hander”, and Hosanna (By Michel Tremblay translated by John Van Burek and Bill Glassco, directed by Mike Payette) is his finest play in that style. The writing is so fluid and visceral that the audience is instantly swept up into the reality of an ageing drag queen and the biker who loves her.  From the opening moment of silence as Hosanna stands alone in front of the door of the apartment on the Plaza St. Hubert, one enters that world and is held captive breathlessly until the final scene.

There is a lot of political positioning about a play which is addressing a world which has been transformed and trans-gendered and has generally transitioned completely since the play was first produced. This does not diminish the impact of the dialogue or the yearning of these two personae at all. After the skirmishes between the lovers and the big reveal about Hosanna’s humiliating night, what remains is a bond between two human beings that is sweet and tender.

There are so many layers to the play, and they are revealed almost from the beginning. The truth of the portrayals, and the astonishing performances, make it possible to not only follow the transitions, but to be believe in them completely. There is the brilliant banter between Eloi ArchanBaudoin as Hosanna and Davide Chiazzese as Cuirette in the first half that is so fast and gritty, that one is left spinning. The final scene when Cuirette says that he does not want Cleopatra or Hosanna, but just Claude is very beautiful, and the ending is an apotheosis of the destiny of relationships of any gender or variety.

ArchanBaudoin, is splendid in this performance, which he premiered at the Mainline theatre some three years ago. Like an exceptional wine, his interpretation has matured beautifully. His timing is pure music and his vulnerability makes one shiver. Davide Chiazzese is perfect as Cuirette… the leather guy. His repeated attempts to come to terms with Hosanna’s roller coaster of emotions is very touching.

I invited a young Latino man to accompany me to this opening, and he said that although this subject matter was not one he thought he would enjoy, he was so caught up by the terrific acting that it did not matter.  Mike Payette proves once again that he is a master craftsman, and one of the truly gifted directors of this city.  His blocking is impeccable and one sees his eye in the set and the lighting by Audrey-Anne Bouchard. Noemi Poulin created perfect costumes — just tacky enough to be believable and beautiful enough to satisfy Hosanna’s goal of looking like Elizabeth Taylor.

This is an iconic production and if you can get tickets do not walk but run to the Centaur to see it!

Hosanna is at The Centaur (453 St Francois Xavier) from May 17 to June 10. Tickets can be found HERE.