If you ever wonder about some of the people you share public transit with Bus Stops at the Centaur until March 27 is a smart and energetic excursion into our deepest fears and sometimes prejudices.
Originally staged in French as Lignedebus, Marilyn Perreault’s innovative multidisciplinary drama is a ride like no other. The versatile and bilingual cast is identical to the one Theatre I.N.K. mounted two years ago. The play, translated by Nadine Desrochers, has nothing to do with the chirpy Hollies tune, The Bus Stop song. On stage as you take your seats is the charred shell of a Montreal transit bus, a grim set designed by Patrice Charbibbeau-Brunelle.
A suicide bomber has killed all aboard.
The play is the inquest into the tragedy conducted by the coroner (playwright Marilyn Perreault) to find who is reponsible for the deadly explosion and why. Is it Jimmy( Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon) Mohammed Abdallah, the recently arrived immigrant from the Middle East who reminds us that « it it is impossible to live anywhere when you are unwelcome everywhere, » Is it the increasingly unstable jilted lover Tom, (Alexandre Lavigne) who « fares well on welfare. » ? It could even be the lovelorn waitress, Rachel, (Annie Ranger) who dreams of a sweet romance with Henri, the handsome driver, (Hughes Sarra-Bournet). You can’t rule out the street gang on the bus either. And just what does Sandy, (Victoria Diamond) the teenager who saw it all happen from the back of the bus know that she isn’t telling us ? There are signs to be read along the way, but none of them obvious.
All the characters are resurrected in a ghostly narrative procession.
The entire cast working in a second language is uniformly excellent. There is mind blowing choreography as the actors engage in athletic acrobatics, gyrations and pratfalls, In spite of the crude psychology and character development and a few declamatory rants, the skills at work here are remarkable. Where else on the continent are you able to see a mutlinational and multilingual cast on stage that includes actors such as Nora Guerch as Daniela, who can work in Arabic, French and English. This is a new generation of fearless, versatile performers, and they illuminate the stage with talent to burn. It is, as Perreault says in the programme notes, « not easy for a small company to remount a production, particularly in another language. »
It is a visually stimulating production that blends video installations by Thierry Francis ,Michael Loen’s scoundscapes – including a familiar Bowie tune - Martin Gagné’s mood setting lighting effects, and costumes by Ellen Ewing into brutal and innovative theatre.