Written by Deborah Rankin for VMO
Wednesday March 23rd, 2016
If you've ever been on a bus, you probably think that travelling by bus to and from work or school is about as banal as it gets. However, Bus Stops, Théâtre I.N.K.'s multi-faceted production, playing at the Centaur Theatre until March 27th, takes the meaning of the daily commute to a whole new level. Written and directed by Marilyn Perreault - Théâtre I.N.K.'s Co-founder and Co-artistic Director (with Annie Ranger) - and translated by Nadine Desrochers, this English-language world premiere explores the mysterious realm of connection in a world of strangers and seemingly random events.
Bus Stops, first performed in French as Lingedebus, artfully blends different performance styles in theatre, dance, acrobatics, music, and video to create a riveting drama about several characters whose lives intersect in unseen ways. In the process, Bus Stops takes the audience on a journey, conjuring up questions about the interpretation of diverse incidents as the story lurches back and forth in surreal time-travel, like the bus that transports its passengers.
At turns poignant, comical, dramatic, and shocking, the story revolves around a love triangle, with a political twist. Jimmy (Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon), the proverbial outsider, is tired of being misunderstood by everyone. Tom (Alexandre Lavigne), the equally predictable angry white guy, is trying to win back the girl, Daniela (Nora Guerch) who has moved on. As they are caught up in their own machinations, unbeknownst to them, other scenarios are unfolding. It all plays out against a backdrop of emotional longing, mental illness, and the necessities of everyday life.
Rachel (Annie Ranger), a waitress with a vivid imagination, has her eye on Henri (Hugues Sarra-Bournet), a bus driver whose route passes by the restaurant where she works. Henri stops in every day for lunch, but doesn't know that she exists. However, his silence only makes him that much more desirable as she waits on him.
Not unlike real life, there is a back story, one which is calling out from beyond the realm of conscious awareness. The truth awaits, somewhere between heaven above and the hellish mess below. But, whose version of truth will prevail? Will it be the heartfelt truths of Sandy (Victoria Diamond), a teenager torn between two homes and estranged parents, or the cold clinical facts of the coroner (Marilyn Perreault)?
The ensemble cast work well together, evoking Montreal's bilingual reality, as they deliver their lines in English, some with authentic Québecois accents. The actors seemingly effortless natural gymnastic movements simulate the fluid motion of buses and trains on bus and métro lines, the flow of time, and the inter-connectedness of all things as they climb up, then glide down the interior of the huge bus, alternately weaving in and out of the entire structure, as it gradually disassembles as the play progresses. The lighting effects, music, and soundscape are every bit as arresting as Rachel's fantasies and the overall effect is visually stunning.
The Bus Stops here for an extraordinary theatrical experience:
453 St. Francois Xavier
Last Night at the Gayete
The Centaur Theatre's 2015-2016 season is drawing to a close with its final production of Last Night at the Gayety, a musical comedy by Bowser & Blue which runs until May 22nd.