Written by Thea Gregory.
Series are a great thing. They’re popular with books, movies have sequels and TV shows have spin-offs. Depflies X: Till Dep do Us Part is the tenth, and final, installment of the Depflies theatrical series. Written by Alain Mercieca and Danny Belair, it’s a bilingual sitcom-styled play that weds Trailer Park Boys style humor with Montreal’s eclectic and gentrifying St-Henri borough.
When I say that Depflies X is like Trailer Park Boys (TPB), I mean that it follows in TPB’s tradition of absurdist and low-brow humor. In Depflies X the characters fight over rotten chicken, get into a brawl in an art gallery, and there’s a lesbian waterpark scene that seems to exist solely as an excuse to have a wet t-shirt on stage. On the other hand, where Depflies differs from TPB is in the form self-awareness and community. The characters in Depflies seem to be aware that it’s a play, with characters even talking about the other episodes and talking to the audience. The sense of community is palpable—the characters are always friends, with time and Alberta being the main antagonists that keep the story rolling.
What I enjoyed most about Deflies was that it transcended the sitcom architype and attempted to address some big existential questions. What I found most striking was the theme of “Easy Way Out, Hard Way Through.” The characters discuss this concept at length, especially with respect to Peter’s (Alain Mercieca) raprock album and Roger’s (Simon Chavarie) quest to win Nancie’s (Sandi Armstrong) heart. Another topic addressed was the nature and universality of art, with a vernissage being held under the Turcotte by some punks and with the same artist later being featured in the Museum of Fine Arts.
The play itself was very complex, with sound and lights taking a big part of scenes and scene transitions. There was an original soundtrack made by Jaymie Guy Metivier and BB Combs that accompanied parts of the production. However, the props were very minimalistic, leaving actors to mime their interactions with imaginary stage props. Given the play’s obsession with chicken, I thought that perhaps a rubber chicken would make a welcome addition if (when?) this play series goes into reruns. The set was decorated in beer posters that were probably donated by a neighborhood depanneur and they covered every available surface.
The acting was exaggerated, with Peter spewing huge gouts of tears, and the cast laughing at their own jokes. But, they all looked to be having the time of their lives with their performances and it didn’t detract from the experience at all. It’s a comedy, right?
In conclusion, I had a great time. The merging of comedy, art, theatre and philosophy made a memorable experience. I hadn’t seen the previous Depflies performances, but I would definitely be interested in going should this series appear in reruns.
Dépflies X runs at the Theatre Sainte-Catherine until 8 October 2016. 8 p.m. $12. Click here for tickets, showtimes, and dates.