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Dark Owl: A play about a family trying to move forward

by admin November 23, 2010

Dark Owl: A play about a family trying to move forward

by admin November 23, 2010

All families have their secrets. Some face them, while others repress them and sweep them under the rug. Sometimes secrets are so dark they can haunt people for a very long time: they can become their very own dark owl.

Dark Owl, written by Laval Goupil and translated from its original French by Glen Nichols, is about an Acadian family who has stopped communicating, and who must finally face its deepest secret.

Director Jessica Abdallah, who studied theatre and development at Concordia, and is now a workshop leader at the department, believes that “theatre is about communication, it’s about the public, it’s about trying to spark dialogue.”

Her production features some well-know actors on the Montreal scene, including Liz Burns, Gilles Plouffe, Lea Rondot, Dan Jeannotte, Catherine Lemieux, and Holly Gauthier-Frankel.

The play, put on by Montreal’s Table D’Hôte Theatre, explores an interesting concept: bilingual theatre. The actors in Dark Owl constantly switch languages and manage to make the transitions smooth.

“Being in Montreal, living in a community which is multicultural, multilingual, I feel audiences should be challenged more,” explained Abdallah.

Following the dialogue may be challenging at times for those who aren’t well-versed in the two languages, but this unique appeal is refreshing, and adds to the story.

In Montreal, people often blend both languages, to the point where it is barely noticeable. We have become accustomed to it, so why should theatre be any different? If you are an anglophone who doesn’t understand a word of French, fear not. This is the theatrical equivalent of Bon Cop, Bad Cop. MainLine Theatre on opening night was filled with people of all ages. From students to seniors, everyone seemed to be laughing.

The acting in Dark Owl is convincing, and the chemistry amongst members of the family is apparent. Together, they experience moments of tenderness and moments of complete chaos. Siblings laugh together, but they also hurt each other and taunt one another. Those complexities are beautifully explored onstage.

Amandine, the youngest of the sisters, is a crowd-pleaser. Lemieux plays her with no fear of veering off into the ridiculous. She yells, dances, and uses her body to show the emotions of her character. Gauthier-Frankel, who plays Flora, the eldest, is best-known in Montreal as her burlesque alter-ego Miss Sugarpuss. She shows that she can turn down the burlesque and do drama as well.

The set is well-orchestrated, with solid lighting and sound. Props add to the overall feel of the piece without being distracting. There are wooden doors on the floor, and the footsteps of the cast make the doors creak from time to time, punctuating the dialogue and actions. When family patriarch Utrope (Plouffe) delivers his monologue, a light is set on him, emphasizing the importance of what he is saying. His children hang on to every word, just as the audience does. The mother of the family, played by Burns, enters the scene from a hallway near where the audience is seated, challenging the conventions of a typical stage.

However, the emphasis is on allowing the audience to embark on an emotional roller-coaster with the characters. Every time a character says the words “dark owl” all cast members flinch and react simultaneously. This hooks the audience in, and pushes them to try to figure out what exactly dark owl refers to. The audience wants in on the family’s dirty little secret from the beginning, and they are kept waiting.

The ending of Dark Owl is ambiguous, leaving the audience hanging though more details about the family’s secret are revealed. The ending is very dramatic, out of place compared to the rest of the play. “You are going to leave here wanting to talk about it,” warned Abdallah.

Dark Owl is sure to get you chatting, regardless of the language.

Dark Owl runs at the MainLine Theatre until Nov. 28. For more information and to buy tickets, check out www.mainlinetheatre.ca.

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All families have their secrets. Some face them, while others repress them and sweep them under the rug. Sometimes secrets are so dark they can haunt people for a very long time: they can become their very own dark owl.

Dark Owl, written by Laval Goupil and translated from its original French by Glen Nichols, is about an Acadian family who has stopped communicating, and who must finally face its deepest secret.

Director Jessica Abdallah, who studied theatre and development at Concordia, and is now a workshop leader at the department, believes that “theatre is about communication, it’s about the public, it’s about trying to spark dialogue.”

Her production features some well-know actors on the Montreal scene, including Liz Burns, Gilles Plouffe, Lea Rondot, Dan Jeannotte, Catherine Lemieux, and Holly Gauthier-Frankel.

The play, put on by Montreal’s Table D’Hôte Theatre, explores an interesting concept: bilingual theatre. The actors in Dark Owl constantly switch languages and manage to make the transitions smooth.

“Being in Montreal, living in a community which is multicultural, multilingual, I feel audiences should be challenged more,” explained Abdallah.

Following the dialogue may be challenging at times for those who aren’t well-versed in the two languages, but this unique appeal is refreshing, and adds to the story.

In Montreal, people often blend both languages, to the point where it is barely noticeable. We have become accustomed to it, so why should theatre be any different? If you are an anglophone who doesn’t understand a word of French, fear not. This is the theatrical equivalent of Bon Cop, Bad Cop. MainLine Theatre on opening night was filled with people of all ages. From students to seniors, everyone seemed to be laughing.

The acting in Dark Owl is convincing, and the chemistry amongst members of the family is apparent. Together, they experience moments of tenderness and moments of complete chaos. Siblings laugh together, but they also hurt each other and taunt one another. Those complexities are beautifully explored onstage.

Amandine, the youngest of the sisters, is a crowd-pleaser. Lemieux plays her with no fear of veering off into the ridiculous. She yells, dances, and uses her body to show the emotions of her character. Gauthier-Frankel, who plays Flora, the eldest, is best-known in Montreal as her burlesque alter-ego Miss Sugarpuss. She shows that she can turn down the burlesque and do drama as well.

The set is well-orchestrated, with solid lighting and sound. Props add to the overall feel of the piece without being distracting. There are wooden doors on the floor, and the footsteps of the cast make the doors creak from time to time, punctuating the dialogue and actions. When family patriarch Utrope (Plouffe) delivers his monologue, a light is set on him, emphasizing the importance of what he is saying. His children hang on to every word, just as the audience does. The mother of the family, played by Burns, enters the scene from a hallway near where the audience is seated, challenging the conventions of a typical stage.

However, the emphasis is on allowing the audience to embark on an emotional roller-coaster with the characters. Every time a character says the words “dark owl” all cast members flinch and react simultaneously. This hooks the audience in, and pushes them to try to figure out what exactly dark owl refers to. The audience wants in on the family’s dirty little secret from the beginning, and they are kept waiting.

The ending of Dark Owl is ambiguous, leaving the audience hanging though more details about the family’s secret are revealed. The ending is very dramatic, out of place compared to the rest of the play. “You are going to leave here wanting to talk about it,” warned Abdallah.

Dark Owl is sure to get you chatting, regardless of the language.

Dark Owl runs at the MainLine Theatre until Nov. 28. For more information and to buy tickets, check out www.mainlinetheatre.ca.

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