Coming out of the cage

Photo by Brian Morel

Apes think with their bellies and when freedom is out of reach, the only solution is to cease being ape. Kafka’s Ape is a captivating monologue about Red Peter, a man who tells the story of his life from apehood to humanhood. In a renovated swimming pool, Infinitheatre presents the world premiere of Kafka’s Ape, Guy Sprung’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s short story, A Report to an Academy, at Bain St. Michel from Jan. 28 to Feb.17.

Members of the Peace Industry, the entrepreneurial world of mercenary soldiers, capture primate Red Peter and take him away from the Gold Coast of Africa. In his cage, he realizes he cannot be free, but he can escape by becoming Mr. Red Peter: a walking, talking, spitting, hard-drinking ‘Ou-man’.

Howard Rosenstein’s performance of Red Peter is not only physically impressive, but thought-provoking. The actor takes up the entire space and interacts with the audience. He shuffles from one end of the stage to the other, empties his glass of wine in a single gulp and leans over and looks straight into our eyes. Although his imitation of Homo sapiens is a satire, one can recognize one’s self and wonder: “but am I free?”

Red Peter’s wife, played by Alexandra Montagnese, remains off stage and yet, she is a fundamental element of the play. Much like a child, the she-ape is antsy and bored throughout Red Peter’s speech. In her full-out ape costume, she even succeeds in making some of the members of the audience genuinely uncomfortable. As the gap between human and ape narrows, the she-ape reminds us of how ridiculous we actually are: the shareholders who are quiet and too polite in our seats.

Kafka’s work was a major influence for the genres of existentialism and surrealism, but Guy Sprung really pokes our ribcage throughout the play. Many questions arise about our society and our freedom as Homo sapiens and animals. Whether or not we are different, or if we have merely domesticated and caged ourselves into thinking so.

Kafka’s Ape runs from Jan. 28 to Feb. 17 at Bain St. Michel, 5300 St-Dominique St.


There ain’t no vice like the present

Sex, alcohol and technology are just a few of the indulgences played with in Infinitheatre’s latest project The Leisure Society. A hilarious yet tragic tale of the inner turmoil of a seemingly perfect couple, The Leisure Society asks the question: How can you admit that something might be missing if you have almost everything you want?
Peter and Mary have agreed to quit smoking once and for all after one last cigarette. However, they can’t overcome this vice. Neither can they break off their friendship with “Mark,” who they feel no longer fits their lifestyle. The cigarettes then become an analogy of their friendship with Mark and they delay giving up either one.
Technology is a constant presence in the performance, as though it were a character itself. Peter and Mary’s television has a multitude of functions such as drowning out conversation with hockey or news, acting as a babysitter for their child and providing art facsimiles. It hinders the couple’s relationship with each other as well as with their newborn child. This forces the question: Just how much technology is too much technology?
The cast, Daniel Brochu, Catherine De Sève, Sheena Gazé-Deslandes and Howard Rosenstein, make for an outstanding ensemble. Brochu and De Sève as Peter and Mary do a solid job portraying a dysfunctional married couple, mastering their characters’ hysteria so that it never overshadows their performance. Gazé-Deslandes as Paula adds lightness to an otherwise extremely dark comedy. Rosenstein brings depth to Mark’s sleazy personality, and it’s hard not to find his antics charming.
The set, lighting and sound design all complement one another. Bain St-Michel is the perfect locale for the performance, with the remainders of the former pool surrounding the stage and audience.
Entering the room, the sound of children splashing in a pool sets an idealized tone even before the audience reaches their seats. This ambiance embellishes the perfection that Peter and Mary wish to convey. Underneath all of their materialistic possessions, including a pool in their backyard, lies their unhappiness.
The Leisure Society is a searing tragedy, but the comedic undertone enables the audience to witness the helplessness of a marriage on the verge of ruin, and how the influence of technology caused such a rift in their ability to communicate.

The Leisure Society runs from March 6 to March 25 at Infinitheatre (5300 rue St-Dominique). Tickets are between $10 and $20. For more information, visit

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