Saint Carmen is a Visual Bombshell

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Categories: Professional Theatre

carmen carmen

Jackie Richardson (Gloria), Laara Sadiq (Carmen).Photo Bruce Zinger

The powerful opening is arresting. The curtain rises slowly to reveal a dozen pairs of legs belonging to a group of prostitutes and transvestites. All clad in red — underlining that this is a red light district — the stylized chorus is a visual bombshell.

Following the form of ancient Greek drama, violent acts will take place off stage, but there is little doubt from the beginning that Carmen, now a country and western star, is taking a risk in returning to her roots. There will undoubtedly be violence when she dares not only to come back but also to sing about these people (rather than the cowboy songs for which she has become known.)

Hardly a saint, Saint Carmen of The Main is afraid of her past but cannot move into the future without dealing with what went before. Previously presented as a metaphor for finding one’s own voice and a battle cry for separatism, this translation and production appear more about a search for identity without defining sexuality.

The production concept blurs the gender lines to focus attention on the difficulty of belonging and making connections. The silver-clad Carmen (Laara Sadiq) no longer fits. Harelip (Diane D’Aquila) her lesbian dresser and caretaker is miserable and alone. Gloria (Jackie Richardson) is jealous of Carmen and determined to regain her star status on The Main. The sleazy club owner Maurice (Jean LeClerc) cares only about making money, while Toothpick (Joey Tremblay) makes trouble. And through it all, the chorus recounts the thrill of finding a local identity (the breakthrough of a play written in Quebec dialect in the 1970s) and maintains the distance between reality and symbolism.

Saint Carmen of the Main

by Michel Tremblay

directed by Peter Hinton

translated by Linda Gaboriau

A Coproduction of the  Canadian Stage and the National Arts Centre English Theatre

Musical director: Allen Cole

Sets and costumes: Eo Sharp

Lighting: Bonnie Beecher

Sound: Emily C. Porter

Cast:

  Harelip                                                         Diane D’Aquila

  Maurice                                                          Jean LeClerc

  Sandra                                                           Robert Persichini

   Gloria                                                             Jackie Richardson

    Rose Beef                                                      Karen Robinson

   Carmen                                                          Laara Sadiq

    Toothpick                                                      Joey Tremblay

Chorus: Patricia Cano, Réjean Cournoyer, Nicolas di Gaetano, John Doucet, Randi Helmers, Ron Kennell, Jani Lauzon, Kevin Loring, James Stuart MacDonald, Alex McCooeye, Katie Swift, Dayna Tekatch.


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