Artists Jean Francois Nadeau et Stefan Boucher bring us their interpretation of urban living, where everyone seems to confine themselves to silos, creating barriers, often times unsaid, and remain detached from even their closest neighbours in what turned out to be a destabilizing rendition of what it means to be just another resident of our urban ‘ghettos’. As one of the protagonists, Nadeau takes directly from the Ulysses playbook, as he encounters various people in his ordinary life. Compelled by a sick child at home, Nadeau is forced out from his family frustrations, seeking an appointment at a clinic. This sets up various encounters, as he stumbles through his own neighbourhood (aka Ghetto).
The artists use monologues with the audience for the most part, to deliver a stirring performance that explores urban life through the prism of our shared isolation and ordinary day to day living. Encountering lives of neighbours who range from activists, quirky characters, immigrants, who in their own isolations bring differing perspectives. The conscience in all this is a half-scary puppet that is being suspended at the far end of the stage. It comes to life sporadically to sermonize on matters of self-realization, till it is relegated to the confines of a freezer, a common fate it shares with Nadeau.
Nadeau stays away from delving deep into what causes our urban isolation and barely scratches the surface of why our identities are less communal and more solitary. There is also a gentle assertion that as a protagonist of his narrative, he is always given the ‘colonizer’ label, no matter his actions. All of this would make for another theatrical presentation, where we can debate and explore the histories that led to our contemporary urban realities. For our purposes Nos Ghettos remains true to Nadeau’s attempts at self-realization and perhaps making sense of our basic contradictions.
With minimal use of dialogue between Nadeau and Boucher, and effective use of music and jarring light works, Nos Ghettos sporadically destabilizes and then returns to a space of an uneasy calm, which is very close to what our urban realities really are.
Nos Ghettos is playing at le Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui (3900, rue Saint-Denis, Montréal QC H2W 2M2) till November 30th, 2018. Info HERE.