Thursday, February 24, 2011

Saint Carmen of the Main - Canadian Stage

If you're thinking of committing suicide anytime soon, make sure you stop by a showing of this play on the way. It has that great "push you over the cliff" mentality suicidal audiences are sure to love.
In the program we read the many, many, many notes of the set designer, detailing his exhaustive research in to the play, the period. S/he (I have no idea if the name "Eo" is male or female) cites ten separate influences before sharing his hope of "distilling the set to a mythic simplicity".  Which in this case means a wall with two doors and a Texas longhorn antler set. This is it for the entire 95 minutes, no set changes. He finishes saying "with this design I have tried, in my way, to be an artist".  One wall and a set of antlers. Really???  I forgot to mention there's also a beautiful carpet but as the balcony was empty and everyone sat on the floor no one could see it. And again we're left staring at beige walls.
Much has been made of turning the lead Carmen in to Lady Gaga, part of the reason I wanted to go. It's Lady Gaga with a lobotomy. No emotions, no like-ability, nothing dynamic. And one outfit worn for the whole show, a white cat suit. I have no idea where these comparisons are coming from.
The show is narrated by a chorus of transvestites and prostitutes, which sounds good, but in reality means 12 people speaking the same line all at the same time, all dressed in red. I was asleep within five minutes.
The story revolves around a singer and the power of her songs. We never hear these songs, there's no music at all in fact until the last sixty seconds of the play which feature a song sung in some language that is neither English or French and sung by someone else. Considering the play is set in Montreal, I have no idea why they chose whatever language that was.
Finally the plot, the last 20 minutes of the play is two characters describing a murder. When I was talking to the friend I went with, he revealed to me that the murder never actually happened, the whole thing was them concocting a story. How I was supposed to get that I'll never know, although if I had been conscious that might have helped. Probably not.
This is the kind of theatre that makes you not want to go to the theatre. No new ideas presented, no great acting feats and an indiscernible plot just left me wondering why I had left the house.

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