|| Print ||
|Written by Agnes Cadieux|
|Wednesday, 18 August 2010 09:32|
Inseparable. A play about a clash of cultures, a struggle for dominancy, and a blend of two key players in Canadian history -- who have never actually met . . . Most of us probably remember a little something from history class about the shaping of our nation, but, for those who stealthily slept through those particular lessons, Major General James Wolfe of Britain and Lieutenant-General Louise de Montcalm of France led opposing forces on September 13, 1759 in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The battle took both their lives and led to the fall of Quebec.
Inseparable is a form of "investigative" theatre, a dramatic reverie of "what would have happened if . . ." where two separate personalities are forced together by something borne of delicious speculation. Written by Louis Lemire, directed by Matthew Romantini (who also plays General Wolfe), and displaying the talent of Jérôme Bourgault (General Montcalm), the cast and crew together bring 25 years of stage experience and show it off in their clear delivery of this two-member play.
The set is simple, the costumes styled after 18th century Canada, and the setup: intimate. With only several rows of seating in Studio A of Ottawa's Arts Court, there was no need for flashy electronics or voice amplification devices. No matter where you sit, you can experience the play without obstruction.
The play begins with Montcalm's silent contemplation being rudely interrupted by a rather unexpected guest: his key rival, General Wolfe. The play takes off from there and sends audiences into a delightful exchange of banter between the two. Wolfe's skittishness coupled with Montcalm's brooding yet boastful nature gives the atmosphere an immediate touch of electricity. Not only are these two enemies, but the play takes on a very familiar friction when age becomes an issue between the older Montcalm and his much younger rival. Top that off with the ever-fiery cultural clash of English vs. French, and you get a quick-witted, sassy satire full of the kind of smack-talk you'd expect when polar opposites are forced together.
The disclaimer that this is an historical play is spot-on; it is deeply steeped in Canadian history with each character touching on their past lives and how they came to be where they are now (the eve of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham), even sidetracking to a memory of Wolfe's struggles with his mother over his engagement to Katherine Lowther.
The chemistry between Romantini and Bourgault was only okay at the beginning, but as the play went on and their characters got to know each other, a real connection between the two formed. This connection was especially evident after Wolfe and Montcalm trade personalities, and the British General gains the upper hand over his now-cowering enemy. It was refreshing to see this switch, particularly after an hour of watching Montcalm bullying Wolfe, and this change reflected some much-needed character growth. It caught my attention.
Overall, the play was an interesting take on a pivotal point in our history. It is always neat to see someone's portrayal of our founding fathers/mothers and gives us a new angle to view our past. The only negative thing that stood out (and I mean I was placing bets as to when the next one would happen) was the playwright's overuse of modern idioms. I did find the first few amusing -- even though I felt they were a little out of place -- , but when they started coming one right after the other, the effect quickly turned into irritation, and I would catch myself thinking something along the lines of " Yeah, yeah, we get it."
But if this is my only critique, then I think it's safe to say that Inseparable is a unique and quirky play about two 18th century tough guys from opposite sides of the track who in the end realize they aren't that different at all.
Inseparable plays until August 22nd 2010 at the Arts Court. Tickets are $25 / $20. For more information, please visit: www.artcourt.ca or call 613-564-7240.
Tags: arts court, can con, canada, general montcalm, general wolfe, history, inseparable, ottawa, summer flign, theatre, water