It’s the second night of the Solos Festival and I’m sad to say I missed Jon Bennett’s world premiere of “Aussie Rules Footy/Playing With Men” last night. But that’s in the past, and on this fine evening, I saw the two French shows in the line-up: Aluma’s “J’Eux” and une autre compagnie de théâtre’s “Clara veut être actrice.”
In “J’Eux”, we follow Thomas and Myriam, two children, on a journey through jungle, cities, and desert that questions if their past is all that different from our quotidian. This puppet show, fabricated for touring, has the soloist Lucile Prosper addressing the audience when she is not behind the curtain re-enacting the story through puppets. With tennis balls for heads, the puppets come to life with endearing individual personas. In the end, the protagonist leaves it up to us, “I have nothing more to say, maybe you do” and takes a seat in the audience as the lights fade to black.
Clara, performed by Daphnée Côté-Hallé, graduated from an upstanding theatre school and now works in a bistro with dreams of being on Broadway in “Clara veut être actrice.”
After hearing such wonderful things about this winner of the Best Francophone Production at the 2015 Montreal Fringe Festival, it all makes sense. Côté-Hallé engages the audience from her entrance to her exit. The text flows out of its performer as if Clara were a real person. And really, she is. She extrapolates on many of the issues emerging artists face and all the ways the system is constructed to make emerging as difficult as possible. With a mash-up of some of Broadway’s greatest hits, we seamlessly travel between Clara’s internal world and her reality. It’s no surprise that the show received such a to-your-feet standing ovation. It’s the sort of show that people go in to see thinking “Cool. I’m seeing a show tonight,” but leave visibly transformed. There’s nothing like watching an all-smiles audience shuffle out of a theatre after a show at 10pm on Thursday and Valery Drapeau’s text and direction delivers just that.
So don’t miss anything, or you’ll feel how you feel about it.
Single shows = 15$
Two shows = 25$
And in the words of Al LaFrance: “If you’re too poor for shows, well, there’s a video dance party that starts at 10PM and costs nothing. Come hang out!”
Julie Santini is a Montreal-based writer and performer.