Tarantino in Concert (For The Record) premiered in Canada at the Montreal Jazz festival last week. It was the most vulgar and violent take on musical theatre that I have ever seen, where gunshots blended into drumming from the live band, swords were drawn and ears were severed.
Waiting for the show to begin, spectators tapped their feet and bobbed their heads to soulful tunes, setting the tone for what was to come. The cast entered through the theatre doors, walking through the audience to get to the stage and making full use of the entire space to bring the viewers right into the performance.
The show was a blend of curated scenes and music from Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, Resevoir Dogs, Kill Bill Vol. 1& 2, Death Proof, Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained. True to Quentin Tarantino’s knack for creating non-linear storylines, the cast sang, danced and brawled their way from one scene to the next, sometimes transitioning from one character to another at the drop of a hat. In one instance, Rumour Willis went from playing Mia Wallace (Pulp Fiction) where she was sitting at Jack Rabbit Slim’s ‘50s-themed restaurant, straight into a knife fight with Vernita Green (Kill Bill). Now she was Beatrix Kiddo, and she finished Green off before heading back to the restaurant to win a twist contest with Vincent Vega. I was also impressed with Rogelio Douglas Jr. who played the role of Django -among many others. In the second act, he seamlessly moved through a conversation with Bettina at Big Daddy’s plantation into a flashback where he pleaded aimlessly for one of the Brittle brothers to stop whipping his wife, Broomhilda. To change character so quickly requires such great skill.
Lindsay Pearce sent chills down my spine as O-ren Ishii (Kill Bill), giving her legendary leadership speech, her subordinate’s newly severed head in her hand. She was the finest sociopath that you ever saw, calmly encouraging her peers to challenge her before bursting into a psychotic rage. Patrick Mulvey was also a great Stuntman Mike (Death Proof). He was suave, predatory, and sadistically charming.
Also notable was Constantine Rousouli, who showed the most diversity in his character changes. He opened the show as Pumpkin (Pulp Fiction) in the infamous diner heist prologue, using a British accent à la Tim Roth. He later played a strong, silent and sexy Butch (Pulp fiction), but the most impressive was his portrayal of Lt. Aldo Raine (Inglourious Basterds). Capturing the southern drawl of Raine’s speech and his American confidence perfectly, Rousouli really had a knack for emulating these great characters.
The entire cast was just brilliant. From the musicians to the actors, and those in between, they really made these theatrical soundtracks their own and brought these iconic scenes to life. Tarantino should be proud.
Tarantino in Concert ran at Place des Arts from June 25 to 30.