Off with her head! And let them eat cake!

Mary Stuart brings the battle of the two Tudor queens to life onstage

A techie and costume designer’s dream, Mary Stuart brings to life the historical struggle between Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. The multimedia-filled show ran at the Salle Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire from Oct. 21 to 30, and featured a number of Concordia grads, including Alex Petrachuk and Curtis Legault. A production by the Obra anaïs: performance ensemble, the play featured solid character development as well as captivating music and interesting staging choices.

The set was versatile, with chains and sheer pieces of fabric hanging from the ceiling along the back of the stage. Above them was a screen onto which images and videos were projected throughout the play. The curtains created a transparent hallway for characters to walk through, and could also be tied into slip knots to create different silhouettes for different settings. The black and white colour scheme of both the costumes and sets played well with the lighting. The characters would step in and out of the light depending on whether they were lying or telling the truth.

A definite highlight was the standout performance by Alex Petrachuk, who played Queen Elizabeth I. Her character engaged the audience with her inner turmoil about signing the death warrant of her cousin and royal counterpart, Mary Stuart. Both queens exuded power, but Petrachuk also gave her queen a more human and compassionate element that the audience could relate to. She made me, as an audience member, feel both angry about her spoiled attitude, yet sorry for her, as she was trapped in her role as a monarch.

The music included renaissance choral singing alongside a more contemporary drag performance, which added an updated feel to the Brechtian show. The sound design was done by Vanessa Zaurrini, who mixed together sounds and songs, from Madonna to metal, in an electroacoustic style. The music tied in with many of the staging ideas and created intensity in many of the scenes.

However, even though this version of the play was obviously a more contemporary take, some of the music, specifically the more modern and metal songs, seemed unnecessary and didn’t really add anything to the performance. The case was the same for a number of the theatrical choices. For example, actor Megan Schroeder seemed to play both Lady Kennedy and the embodiment of Mary Stuart’s inner thoughts. This was just as confusing as it sounds. During a few of Mary Stuart’s monologues, Schroeder would move in out of the curtains in the background, sometimes spinning or crawling or even brandishing an invisible sword. While I can see the idea behind the choice—to show how Mary Stuart was actually feeling inside, despite appearing strong to the outside world—it was both distracting and confusing—especially since Schroeder was playing another character the rest of the time. Had a different actor played the “inner Mary Stuart” and been present in every scene, the idea may have come across better.

A well-acted and visually appealing play, Mary Stuart is not for anyone with a short attention span. The play ran close to three hours, with only a 10 minute intermission, and while that length is normal for most Brechtian plays, it definitely felt very long. To find out more about Obra anaïs: performance ensemble, check out their Facebook page.


Puzzling play comes to Montreal’s English theatre

Jerome of Sandy Cove crawls from a Nova Scotia bay to Mainline Theatre

Persephone Productions is bringing its brand new play, Jerome of Sandy Cove, to the Mainline Theatre from Oct. 6 to 16. Based on the true Canadian story of a man named Jerome, who mysteriously washed up on the shores of a Nova Scotia town back in the 1800s, the play examines the man’s life and origins.

Written and directed by Persephone Productions’ artistic director, Christopher Moore, the play features many talented actors including Concordia graduate Natasha Perry-Fagant.

While the performance was engaging, figuring out the plotline without a synopsis is not an easy task. I spent most of the play wondering, “Who was that person supposed to be?” and “Why is this happening?”

The play alternated between a chronological story about Jerome’s life after washing up on shore and various short scenes that depicted his possible life before the incident. The play begins with multiple scenes where the dialogue is solely in Italian. At times, it was easy to follow along, however, I feel like I missed many important pieces of information altogether.

Spoiler alert: the Italian man who I presumed to be Jerome is quite suddenly, and I really mean suddenly, being chased by a police officer and must flee on a ship. While the officers did seem to be explaining his crime, it was in Italian and I was left utterly confused. There were scenes with pirates, confederate soldiers and a random cowboy, all of whom seemed to be random. There was never any solid connection to Jerome in any of the scenes as they were just all speculations. To top it off, almost the entire cast played multiple roles. The plotline wasn’t extremely coherent throughout.

The play did have its upsides though, mostly due to the cast of talented actors. The scenes of Jerome’s life in Nova Scotia featured intriguing interactions between lead actor Zachary Creatchman (Jerome) and the rest of the cast, particularly the female actors. Any scenes with Creatchman and Dawson theatre graduate Dominique Noel were particularly captivating—they drew the audience in with their chemistry. Creatchman is a true artist and, though he did not talk, for Jerome had lost his ability to speak, his eyes and facial expressions captivated the audience with their depth and intrigue.

The music throughout the show was performed live by Sarah Segal-Lazar, and all of the songs and lyrics were written and composed by Segal-Lazar herself. It gave the show a more folksy and intimate feel, and made me feel more at home as an audience member.

While this play featured great acting and did have many heartfelt and humorous moments, it fell short in the plot department, and viewers should definitely read a synopsis before heading into the theatre. The show runs until Oct. 16 at the Mainline Theatre on St Laurent.

Tickets are $20 for students and $25 for the general public. To learn more about the production, visit their website.


English theatre is alive and well in Montreal this fall

The Quebec Drama Federation previewed their upcoming fall season this week

Cancel your Netflix subscription, Montreal’s English theatre is back for its fall season, and there is something for everyone.

At an event held at the Mainline Gallery last Monday, the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF) previewed its upcoming plays. The lineup includes a few classics, some musicals, and a number of for-the-stage adaptations.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a theatre lover, there is bound to be something that will pique your interest.

Many of Concordia’s talented theatre program grads will be taking part in the feminist production Mary Stuart, which will be running from Oct. 21 to 30 at the Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire. The show is an experimental adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s play of the same name. Filled with song and physical theatre—theatre created using the body— this play is something that fringe theatre lovers will definitely enjoy.

If you’re into musicals, In The Wings Productions will be putting on their version of the rock musical Hair, from Nov. 23 to 26. Set in 1967, Hair is the story of a group of young hippies who celebrate peace and love in the shadow of the Vietnam War. Full of dynamic songs and colourful costumes, if you like musicals that explore pertinent issues then this may be show you want to see.

Are you a lover of Stephen King and his dark, chilling novels? D2 Productions has created a stage adaptation of King’s novel Misery (1987). While it doesn’t boast Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes like the film did, this production is sure to be a gripping tale. Their promo alone kept the audience wondering, featuring a simple 30 seconds of Paul Sheldon (Max Laferriere) typing furiously while being watched by axe-wielding Wilkes (Caroline Fournier). Misery runs from Nov. 9 to 13 at the Mainline Theatre.

If you’re a lover of romance, mystery and the 1920s golden age, then the Hudson Player’s Club’s version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby should dance its way into your fall plans. Foxtrot your way over to the Hudson Village Theatre from Nov. 3 to 13 to catch the show.

The QDF puts on these preview events four times a year, before each season begins, to give theatregoers a taste of what plays will be running over the next three months. The events are always hosted by prominent members of the Montreal English theatre community. This preview event was hosted by Eloi ArchamBaudoin and Davide Chiazzese, who starred together in Tableau D’Hôte’s 2015 production of Hosanna. Hosanna  will be back at the Centaur Theatre in July 2017. Both ArchamBaudoin and Chiazzese are part of this year’s Montreal English Theatre Awards Committee (METAC).

Montreal will also be hosting the 2016 Fringe World Congress in November, so there will be plenty of theater to see in the upcoming months.

For a full list of the shows visit

Exit mobile version