Adapted from Nancy Huston’s Limbres/Limbo, Carolyn Guillet’s staged reading offers an exploration of what it is like to live in a world with two languages.
Huston is an authority on the subject. As a native of Calgary, she moved to Paris at the age of twenty. Despite not learning the French language before she left Canada, Huston found that the combination of her eventual command of the language and its development as her second language, helped her to find her literary voice.
Huston’s original bilingual book, and consequently Guillet’s interpretation of it, is an homage to Samuel Beckett, the Irish playwright.
The similarities run deep between the two artists. Beckett, like Huston, decided to live his own country and venture to France, as well as master the art of writing in English and French. The two also share a sarcastic sense of humour, evident in Limbo.
Part philosophical essay, part poetry, this bilingual reading explores a man and woman’s evolving relationship.
Anne Day-Jones plays the part of the struggling Anglo author thinking out loud, and Louis-David Morasse plays the part of the French-man reciting her story.
Only the story turns out to be a rambling of clichZ
At first it is unclear whether these are indeed two separate people of if one is just an extension of the other’s psyche. But as the actors interact, it becomes obvious that it is a relationship, developing over time.
And as much as it is a lover’s journey, it is also a journey to the acceptance of the two languages. The different tongues and accents are used throughout expressing the different moods.
Not to mention that, as does most media today, this hour and a half reading comes complete with a gratuitous sex scene. Only it is just a kiss on the forehead and is evidently not gratuitous at all, it actually makes sense as the French and the English, man and woman, struggle to understand and finally accept each other.
In the end, we understand that words are our most powerful source of communication.
While Limbres/Limbo makes a point, especially relevant today in Montreal, and has potential to be a good performance piece, the version presented at Infinitheatre on Jan. 24 still needed maturation.
Experimental, brave, and audacious is how this unfinished piece should be described since it was presented very unprofessionally after just twenty hours of rehearsal time, and even less for the musicians (Rachel Levine on mandolin and Rebecca Foon on cello).
However, Guillet is planning to redeem herself in a second performance, which will take place after more time can be spent on rehearsing and improving the reading.
The next performance is scheduled for April 5 at the Blue Metropolis.