Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region   ,

Photo: Sylvain Sabatie

In his play “Les Passants,” Luc Moquen is, to put it simply, presenting us to us. This play has no classic storyline – there is no beginning or end, nothing develops and nothing happens in succession. It has no real solution – only a hint that maybe love, a simple hug can help us – but nobody seems to see it. The play implies many things, and one of them is the fact that we do not want to listen to reason or to nature. “Les Passants’ is a series of vignettes from average people’s lives. The author observes them, captures their thoughts, misadventures, anxiety, and confusion. Although these sketches seem to be random when taken out of context, put together they make a powerful testimony by capturing the essence of today’s life, which is filled with crazy rush through a myriad of meaningless tasks causing a detachment from everything and everyone around us. The leitmotif of the play is death – not so much physical, but a death inside us, caused by total alienation. Dante’s Inferno, killings on the streets, or killing the human inside of us – all these deaths have the same root – displaced values as the result of a disconnect from our true, natural existence.

So, how is it possible to make good theatre using just seemingly disconnected vignettes? Surely, it takes an author with deep insight, a director with a vision, adaptable actors, and an artistic creative team. It also demands good teamwork, a lot of understanding, and cooperation. “Théâtre la Catapulte” is fortunate to have all those in the same place and at the same time! And aren’t we, the audience, lucky to have a chance to witness their work in action!

It is hard to know where to start this review. There are so many wonderfully resolved moments masterfully connected which make up a masterpiece. After leaving the theatre, I asked myself repeatedly how a bare stage can be made so alive.

Chantal Labonté (lighting designer), Brian Smith (set designer) and Keith Thoma (sound designer) create the illusion of many places (from streets to Dante’s inferno), but the magic of their work is that it amounts to more than mere picture of a place or even an atmosphere. They colour the stage with feelings, infuse it with thoughts, give every moment an intensity, and construct a story of its own. They build the bridge between writing and performing by expressing that which lies hidden inside the characters, and thus electrify their surroundings. At moments, one feels that the set together with the characters who are lost in the chaos of today’s existence will create an explosion, and that disaster is in the air.

All actors are brilliant in contributing to that same atmosphere, not only with the way they speak, but with their body language, and facial expression. Director Jean Stéphane Roy connects the vignettes intelligently at an ideal pace. A perfect synchronization of classic theatre and the Theatre of Shadows give this play its final flavour.

“Les Passant” is an imaginative, deep, intelligent, intriguing, disturbing, beautifully performed play with a cohesion of theatrical elements rarely seen in today’s theatre. Heavy subject matter hits close to home, but a sprinkling of humorou at the right times makes the harsh reality easier to swallow. No wonder that a moment of weighty silence preceded a well deserved standing ovation!

“Les Psssants” plays in Canadian Great Theatre Company until March  12.


LES PASSANTS by Luc Moquin

Subtitle translation by Lisa L’Heureux

FEB 23 TO MAR 12, 2017

Co-production with Théâtre la Catapulte, Ottawa, ON


Creative Team


Mélanie Beauchamp

Benjamin Gaillard

Andrée Rainville

Yves Turbide



Luc Moquin: Playwright/Texte

Jean Stéphane Roy: Director/Mise en scène

Even Gilchrist: Apprentice Costume Designer/Assistance aux costumes

Tina Goralski: Stage Manager/Régie

Vanessa Imeson: Costume Designer/Costumes

Chantal Labonté: Lighting Designer/Ḗclairages

Lisa L’Heureux: Translator/Traduction

Mathieu Roy: Assistant Stage Manager/Assistant régie

Brian Smith: Set Designer/Scénographie

Keith Thomas: Sound Designer/Environnement sonore