Travel through animals with an eccentric outcast in retrograde as Catherine Kidd blasts through her nine-chapter, one-woman show.
Hyena Subpoena is a play about animals miscast. It is a play about a girl miscast. It is a play about an outsider. It is the product of writer/performer Kidd, who invites the audience to turn the cameras on themselves.
The play is nine acts following poet and activist Mona Morse, who has fled to South Africa. Animals are central in all nine acts of the play. The stereotypes we have of them are turned on their heads. We see the hyena as matriarchal predator instead of scavenger. We see a female lion as victim.
Mona goes backwards in her life through the character of different animals, while exploring what it is like to not be part of the herd; to be an outcast. The animals are teachers as well as analogies throughout the play. By using human metaphors in the lives of animals, she reverses the taxonomy.
The play moves well through the nine chapters. The first two are particularly impressive and function well to set the style and mood that is revisited throughout. The second chapter with its hip-hop beat bounces particularly well. The third through fifth chapters blend into one another before the power of the sixth brings the story back with a thump.
The play is a bold statement on prejudices and alienation. The hyena, elephant, owl, hippopotamus, and lion all serve as guides in Mona’s journey.
The Les Ateliers Jean Brillant space works particularly well for Hyena Subpoena. The space gives room for Kidd to move in, and director Alison Darcy does well making use of the open floor. Kidd opens the play perched on a cross beam, which is a nice touch added to by her prowling throughout the space for the remainder of the play. She rarely stops moving. It is an energy that adds pop to the play.
For Darcy, a performer and director by trade, directing a play that the performer has also written is a different experience. A veteran of Montreal theatre, she said that Kidd’s understanding of the script provided another level of insight. Darcy was used to discovering the play with the actor, but, as the actor had created the story before performing in it, Hyena Subpoena created a new experience.
The direction is tight, and the acting is good, and the play in the end is a success.
Hyena Subpoena runs at 8 p.m. until Oct. 29 at Les Ateliers Jean Brillant (661 Rose de Lima). Tickets are $15 online, or $20 at the door.