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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 21, No. 1 September 2015

English Theatre Picks

by Naomi Gold / September 1, 2015

The English-language premiere of Mathieu Gosselin’s Province arrives at Talisman Theatre’s stage in October. Set in the deep, lush forest of Quebec, this dark comedy is a fanciful tale of environmental maelstrom that unfolds as a whimsical mythological fable. In a nature revolution of sorts, animals run amuck and symbolize a confused, unbalanced society that threatens Quebec’s ecosystems. Evidencing a decidedly theatre-of-the-absurd turn, Gosselin juxtaposes this destruction with Province’s ridiculous characters, who blissfully carry on with their pre-apocalyptic lives — oblivious to the impending doom. Province raises disturbing questions and promulgates the notion that society’s obsession with individualism is ultimately harmful to nature. Directed by Stacey Christodoulou. Co-produced with The Other Theatre. Oct. 7-17. www.talisman-theatre.com

Indian/Canadian playwright Rahul Varma’s State of Denial, resides at The Segal Centre’s Studio this October. His fictitious story is borne out of a federal college research project entitled, “Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide and other Human Rights Violations.” Penned in 2011, the play follows Odette, a Rwandan-born Canadian filmmaker who is investigating genocide in Turkey. During her travels she meets Sahana, a Muslim woman who had spent years assisting Armenian survivors, and is now dying. On her deathbed she divulges a chilling secret to Odette, which challenges the hitherto “state of denial.” A Teesri Duniya Theatre Production. Oct. 8-25. www.segalcentre.org

Westmount’s Persephone Productions presents a play based on the personal diary of 17th century British MP Samuel Pepys. Compleat Female Stage Beauty is a delicious œuvre by American writer Jeffrey Hatcher, set in England’s Restoration Period, circa 1661. Since it was illegal for women to act, female roles were played by men — the most famous being Edward Kynaston. In 1662, the law is amended and Margaret Hughes becomes the first stage actress, supplanting erstwhile “pretty boy” Ned. The results are both poignant and hysterical. A real crackerjack, er “jill” of a play. Directed by Persephone founder Gabrielle Soskin & Christopher Moore. Oct. 15-25. www.persephoneproductions.org

Hot on the heels of Hallowe’en, Centaur Theatre stages Quebec’s premiere of the hair-raising nail-biter, Butcher. Penned by Ottawa-born Montrealer, Nicolas Billon, Butcher is a chilling political thriller. An old man in foreign military garb mysteriously appears outside a Toronto police station on Christmas Eve. Along with a Santa Claus hat, he wears a horrifying butcher’s hook neck brace, dangling a lawyer’s business card that says “ARREST ME.“ Said lawyer is immediately contacted and thus begins Butcher’s profoundly compelling tale of war crimes, vengeance, aliases and shocking allegiances. Centaur chief Roy Surette directs this intriguing work which premiered in Alberta in 2014. Nov. 3-29. www.centaurtheatre.com

(c) La Scena Musicale