Tuesday Night Café Theatre is now showing an adaptation of Sarah Berthiaume’s Quebecois script
The sound of excited theatre warm-ups and the smell of popcorn wafting in the air isn’t what you’d expect to find in the depths of the Islamic Studies building at McGill, but Tuesday Night Café Theatre is inviting you into this campus corner surprise for their latest production.
TNC is a student-run theatre company based out of McGill that provides shows both directed and performed by McGill students. According to Nathaniel Hanula-James, the publicity director of TNC, “what we’re interested in is theatre that is small, that is less well-known but still extremely valuable and that deserves to be heard.”
Their most recent production, The Flood Thereafter, is a Quebecois play written by Sarah Berthiaume and translated by Nadine Desrochers. Their adaptation is directed by both McGill student Daphné Morin and recent Concordia graduate Cleo da Fonseca.
“Something that TNC is working towards in the McGill community … is putting on theatre that doesn’t reinstate … the ivory tower picture of McGill as this anglophone university in Montreal. So it was a really important choice for us to be able to put on this Quebecois play,” said Shanti Gonzales, the front of house director for TNC.
The Flood Thereafter is set in a small town on the banks of the St. Lawrence river—a town plagued by cursed forces that leave the men of the community without work. These men spend their nights at a town bar called Emotions where a young, beautiful girl named June repeatedly makes them weep with her bewitching naked body. June is the daughter of Grace, the once village floozy, and her mother’s promiscuity leaves June without the knowledge of who her father is and if he lingers in that same bar. Dennis, a truck driver passing through, stops in this town and soon catches June’s eye and becomes entangled in the community, its members and the issues within it. Greek mythology is incorporated throughout Berthiaume’s script, allowing the piece to emanate a sense of magic while being grounded in a gritty reality.
This theatre crew has only been working on this production for the short span of two months and has managed to utilize the small space of TNC effectively by squeezing in three settings in their limited stage space. Additionally, Morin and da Fonseca were able to consult both Berthiaume and Desrochers throughout their process, and, according to Gonzales, the author and translator plan to attend one of the upcoming shows. As a whole, to da Fonseca, this piece is worth your time because of its evident magic realism, moving, comedic tragedy and its invitation of escape into a new world.
However, it’s a production that can be appreciated within a smaller community but fails to reach past its small-scale limitations. The acting did not escape the prevalent mediocrity in amateur theatre with work that was littered with over-acting and meditated sentences. Yet, the piece was somewhat carried by the performances of Amalea Ruffett (Penelope) and, most notably, Daphné Morin (Grace). Despite its low production value and run-of-the-mill student theatre qualities, its modest features can be overlooked for the sake of its intention.
Morin discovered this play in one of her academic courses, and by approaching TNC to put on this production she also fulfilled what Hanula-James described as TNC’s desire to put on “plays which represent a specifically Canadian and/or Quebecois voice.” This allows for a creative output that can inspire thought on what dominates the theatre-scape and allows students to express themselves artistically in the process. “It’s amazing to see McGill theatre start to work more and integrate itself more into the Montreal scene, because I think that will give it strength,” said Gonzales.
The Flood Thereafter is showing from March 16 to 19 and 23 to 25 at Tuesday Night Café Theatre (3485 Rue McTavish) in the basement of the Islamic Studies building. Tickets at $6 for students/seniors and $10 for adults.