The Métropolitain

Auteurs > Alan Hustak

Alan Hustak


Par Alan Hustak le 7 février 2017

noises_off_small.jpgNicola Cavendish tears up the stage as Maude  Gutman,  the coarse, vulgar but far from stupid  trailer park  tootsie in Stephen  Sach’s two-hander, Bakersfield Mist at the Centaur until February 26.  The thought-provoking play spins on a simple premise:  Maude has paid $3.00 for a large discarded  canvas  at a garage sale which may or may not be a Jackson Pollock drip painting worth millions.

Noises Off, Michael Frayn’s acclaimed sex farce at the Segal until  Feb 19th, isn’t the easiest of plays to pull off.  It’s actually a play-with-in-a-play.

Remembering Leonard

Par Alan Hustak le 12 novembre 2016

leonard_cohen.jpg"You don’t know me from the wind/you never will, you never did,” Leonard Cohen wrote on the title track of his album, The Future, But that hasn’t stopped people who love his words and his mordant sense of humour from mourning the, poet, author and prince of mordant melancholy who died Monday Nov. 7 at the age of 82, three weeks after the release of his final album, You Want it Darker. His death was not made public until after the U.S. election was over.
Variously praised as “ the finest songwriter in America;” “the Lord Byron of rock'n'roll” , and as a mystic: "one of a tiny visionary company, the handful of rock or blues or folk singers who attempt to sort out the sense of the world with which they started."

Tripping Through A Parallel Universe: Constellations

Par Alan Hustak le 7 octobre 2016

constellations.jpgConstellations,  the  Centaur’s season opener running until October 30th    is an  existential  exercise that is almost as inaccessible  as  the theatre  on St. Francois Xavier itself these days.   The narrow street in front of the  Centaur, like almost every other street in the city,  has been ripped up.   You have to make your way around  barricades across planks and around heavy machinery to get through the front doors of the playhouse.  

But the effort is worth it. 

Guffaws at the Gayety

Par Alan Hustak le 23 avril 2016

last_night_at_the_gayety.jpgLast Night at the Gayety,  George Bowser and Rick Blue’s rousing musical at the Centaur is a  full- throttled if somewhat aimless exercise in nostalgia about how television put an end to Vaudeville in the 1950s.
Through the “magic of dramatic license” the plot centres on burlesque queen Lily St. Cyr’s now legendary appearance at the Gayety playhouse and the attempts by the city’s morality squad, led by crime busting lawyer Pacifique “Pax” Plante,  (Daniel Brochu) and the  Roman Catholic church to rid Montreal of widespread vice and corruption.   Inspired by William Weintraub’s classic, City Unique, the show is a return to the days when Montreal “came by its dishonesty honestly.”  It is told in flashback, narrated by Tommy, (Trayne McCarthy) the  Gayety’s master of  ceremonies. 

Bus Stop: What a Ride

Par Alan Hustak le 7 mars 2016

bus_stop.jpgIf 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.

Dr.Victor Goldbloom: A life of "serene awareness"

Par Alan Hustak le 22 février 2016

goldbloom_pope.jpgDr, Victor Goldbloom,  a pediatrician, prominent leader in the community, the first Jew to be named a Quebec Cabinet Minister and a former federal Commissioner of Official Languages, died in Montreal last week at the age of 92. He was also invested by Pope Benedict XIV as a knight in the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Sylvester Pope and Martyr, one of the few Jews worldwide to be so honoured by the Vatican for his efforts to promote Catholic-Jewish dialogue for a period of almost six decades.His interest in resolving the misunderstanding between Christians and Jews began in the 1950’s when he was invited by Jesuits to be part of a dialogue at Loyola College.

Health care or homicide?

Par Alan Hustak le 8 novembre 2015

BALFOUR_MOUNT.jpgAs Canada moves toward legalized assisted suicide starting in February, Quebec will jump the gun and become the first province to permit doctors to euthanize patients beginning next month.

When Quebec’s Bill 52 takes effect on Dec. 10, physician-assisted suicide will be deemed an acceptable health-care option which doctors may offer to certain terminally ill patients. Still to be resolved, however, is the question of whether Quebec’s law conforms to the Criminal Code of Canada, which makes it illegal “to help a person commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not.”

"In our time..." 50 years ago

Par Alan Hustak le 1 novembre 2015

Hustak_Alan_bw.jpgFifty years ago this week marks a dramatic turning point in relations between Catholics and Jews.  

On Oct. 2 8, 1965,  Pope Paul VI  issued a ground breaking Vatican II declaration, Nostra Aetate (In our Time) which ordered Catholics “to enter with prudence and charity into discussions and collaboration”   with people of other religions, especially Jews . It represents  an  historic condemnation of anti-Semitism and  paved the way for ecumenical dialogue.  In particular,  it  rid the church liturgy of  its offensive language  which  for centuries had dismissed Jews as “perfidious."

FAITH GLOWS AT THE CENTAUR: The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God.

Par Alan Hustak le 27 septembre 2015

Janet_friend.jpgThe Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God at the Centaur until October 18 is a riveting, highly theatrical excursion into the mysteries of life and death and the healing power of a faith community.  At its core is the age old conundrum:  How can a loving God allow bad things to happen to good people?
Djanet Sears, who wrote, developed and directs  her own work engages us in a three hour fantasy of her making. Sears is a born story teller who has combined West African tradition with the fervor of an old time American gospel revival meeting to come up with an extravagant, vivid, and occasionally taxing, theatrical experience.  The play explores the Black experience in Southern Ontario -  present and future, and is rooted in the light of the past all the way back to the War of 1812, when Captain  Runchy’s Company of Coloured Men fought for the British.

Delightful Dreykop: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz: The Musical

Par Alan Hustak le 12 juin 2015

Duddyyyyy.jpgComparisons are odious. Books are not movies. Movies are not stage plays and Broadway musicals are something else altogether.   The Segal Centre’s production The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, the   musical, which had its run extended into July even before it opened,  stands on its own as a  fearless, reimagined  version of Richler’s classic novel.  Even Richler’s widow, Florence and eldest son, Daniel who were at  the opening approved. But it is a show with limitations, not so much a musical as a play with music.  You keep waiting for a signature show tune, an anthem to hum as you leave the theatre, but there isn’t one. Eight songs into the first act, a song and dance routine,  Art and Commerce, encapsulates the spirit of the evening and finally kick starts the show.

Okill Stuart. One of the greatest generation

Par Alan Hustak le 2 mai 2015

ohill_stuart_0.jpgOkill Stuart was with the 14th Canadian Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery,  at a command post a few miles into Germany 70 years ago, when the war ended.  The regiment had just swept through Holland and was on its way to Berlin when it  was told to cease fire. ‘We were expecting the end, then we got the news the war was over,” recalls Stuart, “The Americans were the army of occupation, we weren’t. They pulled the Canadians out the next day and hauled us to Utrecht. There was no way we could all get back to Canada at once, so while we were waiting in Utrecht, we found a yacht club where the Germans had been relaxing a few weeks earlier,  picked up cigarettes and bully beef,  and we went sailing  to celebrate war’s end.  With  a bit of bribery, we  never ate better in our lives.” 

Triplex Nervosa: Mischievous Mile-End Mystery

Par Alan Hustak le 26 avril 2015

Hustak_Alan_bw.jpgA wonderful confection of cock-eyed characters are at the heart of Marianne Ackerman’s dark hearted comedy, Triplex Nervosa that’s playing at the Centaur until May 17.   Written on her kitchen table on a weekend, Ackerman’s play involves the trials and tribulations of a Mile End landlord, Tass Nazor  (Holly Gauthier Frankel)  who owns a heavily mortgaged triplex in Montreal’s trendy crunchy granola  neighbourhood.  She is in dire straights  and needs to rid herself of a rather forlorn tenant, Max Fishbone  (Howard Rosenstein), who has moved into his son’s apartment and won’t move out.  The action begins with Tass suggesting to her rather sinister  Slavic  handyman   Rakie Ur,  (Karl Graboshas),  that he take care of her problem by subjecting Max  to some sort of  “invisible damage.”  

Wacky Wilde Travesty: The Importance of being Eccentric.

Par Alan Hustak le 23 avril 2015

Travesties.jpgTravesties, Tom Stoppard’s intellectual exercise about the literary and political co-ordinates of  art  and Oscar Wilde playing  at the Segal Centre until May 3  Is a polished, but exhausting three hour excursion into the surreal.. Unless you are familiar with the origins of Dadaism and the cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, know something of the precious personality of James Joyce and have studied  Vladimir Lenin’s revolutionary ideas,  this scholarly,  highbrow  drawing room comedy isn’t always easily accessible.
There is much, much more going on in on in this chaotic production as well.   It is overloaded with talk, much of it too clever by half, and demands a familiarity not only with Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest, but with Shakespeare,  Gilbert and Sullivan and early 20th century European history. 

A Tempting Envelope

Par Alan Hustak le 28 mars 2015

envelope.jpgNot only do you  have to care,  but you have to care passionately about the way movies  in English-speaking Canada are made to  appreciate  The Envelope,  Vittorio Rossi’s   “gibber about the Canadian film industry,”  playing at the Centaur Theatre  until  April 19. 

It’s  a  fascinating  glimpse into the world of moviemaking   but one  which may leave  many outside the theatre community a little bewildered.  The Envelope is  essentially  a play about  idealism,  greed  and artistic integrity  - in Rossi’s rant, it is about  “an industry that kills talent.”  

Point Stories

Par Alan Hustak le 8 mars 2015

community_and_human_spirit.jpgThe publishing industry being what it is  these  days  you won’t find a copy of  Dave Flavell’s  oral history of Griffintown,  Point St. Charles and Goose Village in any Montreal  bookstore.  Newspapers in town have taken no notice of it.   But for anyone interested in the social history of Montreal’s storied English-speaking tenement neighbourhoods,  his book, Community and the Human Spirit is well worth ordering on line.  Like Patricia Burns’ Shamrock and The Shield   Which was published ten years ago, Flavell captures a chorus of voices to chronicle  a time and place that no longer exists – not just the Irish.

A Wild Night

Par Alan Hustak le 28 février 2015

wild_bird.jpgThere are home invasions and then there are home invasions. 

The Good Night Bird, at The Centaur until March 22 is a preposterous,  heterosexual twist on James Kirkwood’s gay comedy,  P.S. Your Cat Is Dead.  (Yes, there is a role for a dead cat in this show too.)   In  Colleen Murphy’s screwball version of the Kirkwood tale a mentally unstable, filthy vagrant bent on killing himself  hits the balcony of a high rise and winds up, instead, in the bedroom of an emotionally alienated  married couple where he breathes new life into their sedentary relationship.

Earth Angels - Forever Plaid

Par Alan Hustak le 7 février 2015

forever_plaid.jpgForever Plaid at the Segal Centre until February 22 is a happy-go-lucky musical museum piece, mounted with obvious affection and encased in clean-cut nostalgia.  If the Four Aces, the Four Lads, Johnny Ray, (“The Cry Guy”),  Topo Gigo, Senor Wences and Caribbean calypso rhythms  mean anything to you, this local production is a faithful, full-fledged hi-fidelty hit.

Stuart Ross’ Forever Plaid made its debut off Broadway 25 years ago, and it remains a crowd pleasure with a certain generation. especially the baby boomers who grew up in an era of 45 r.p.m juke box tunes. 

Denis Delaney 1933-2014

Par Alan Hustak le 26 décembre 2014

Denis_delaney.jpgDenis Delaney was a free spirit an entertained and storyteller whose vivid imagination and homespun poetry celebrated the long since vanished Irish slum neighbourhood of  Griffintown.  A impish character in his own right, Delaney died Sunday, a week after his 81st birthday. “He was wonderful. He was Griffintown’s leading cheerleader,” said author Patricia Burns, who profiled Delaney in her book, The Shamrock and The Sheild. “He was such a loving,  giving person, whose enthusiasm for the community was infectious. He used to write such wonderful stories, but Denis being Denis, you never knew where the truth began or ended.”

God Brings the House Down.

Par Alan Hustak le 6 décembre 2014

book_of_mormon_01.jpgAt first glance, The  Book  of  Mormon  which arrived at Place des Arts last week thanks to Evenko promotions  is a send-up of a home grown, American made religion.  But it is more than that.  It is a refreshingly  irreverent Broadway musical inspired by the gospel of South Park and at the same time it is also  a subliminal meditation on faith and the  awareness of the life of any lived  religion.  Behind the laughter it provokes is the nagging question:, what is faith and why do the faithful of any religion  believe what they believe? The show addresses the hypocrisy of religious fundamentalism and lampoons the ability of people to cherry pick their beliefs. It is offensive as you might suspect.

A Lost Boy In Winnipeg

Par Alan Hustak le 9 novembre 2014

social_studies.jpgSocial Studies,  Tricia Cooper’s intriguing  play at the Centaur until  Nov. 30.  is an  ultimately sad and fragmented socio-political comedy about a young Sudanese boy who has been transplanted from war torn Africa to a comfortable suburban Winnipeg neighbourhood.  Most of the laughs in the play, however,  derive  from  cultural misunderstandings rather than genuine comic dialogue.  The evening opens with a self-centered  character, Jackie, (Eleanor Noble) running back home  to  her  mother  after a failed marriage, only to be told by her younger sister, Sarah  (Emily Tognet)  that her old room is taken.

Bingo! Les Belles Soeurs wins as a musical.

Par Alan Hustak le 30 octobre 2014

belles_soeurs_01.jpgIt was St. Therese of Avila who said  that  more tears are shed over answered prayers than there are over unanswered ones.  That’s pretty much the point behind  Michel Tremblay’s classic play Les Belles Soeurs, The play focuses on  Quebec  housewife, Germaine Lauzon  who wins a million trading stamps then invites  her  friends and neighbours  over  to share her good fortune with devastating consequences.
Tremblay has seen his play done so many times and so many ways he appears to have distanced himself from the work. But he was around for the opening at the Segal Centre of the English language premiere of the musical based on the original.

Twisted Two Hander: Venus In Fur Is Terrific

Par Alan Hustak le 19 octobre 2014

venus_fur.jpgVenus in Fur, the emotionally sordid, sadomasochistic romp at the Centaur until Nov 9 is not only harrowingly funny, but it  keeps us on our toes.  The subject is sexual tension - sexual confusion and erotic role playing -  it delves into the darkest recesses of sexual fulfillment. It helps to know that the play by David Ives  is based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1869  novel of the same name. (He lent his name to the term masochism).
It’s a wholly theatrical play, a two hander which explores fetishes and fantasies and depends on raunchy actorly artifice.

Corinne Kernan Sevigny 1924-2014

Par Alan Hustak le 4 octobre 2014

Clou_sevigny_01.jpgCorinne Sevigny, who died Friday, at the age of 90, was an indomitable character who was connected to pedigreed political families in both Canada and the United States. Her paternal grandfather, Francis Kernan was the first Roman Catholic to be elected to the United States Senate.  Her maternal grandfather, Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, was a former Quebec lieutenant governor and one of Louis Riel`s defence lawyers.  Raised in an atmosphere of privilege, she was a no-nonsense, powerhouse of a woman, who in the words of one friend, “is now in heaven, undoubtedly telling the angels what to do and how to do it.”

Graduate with a Hard Edge.

Par Alan Hustak le 10 septembre 2014

the_graduate.jpgAs Mrs. Robinson,   the predatory cougar in the Segal Centre’s coarse,  hard-edged and erratic  stage adaptation of The Graduate running  until Sept. 21, Brigitte Robinson  glows like tip of her smoldering,   ever- present cigarette. The  overall  production of  the 1967 cinema classic,  however,  has lost something in the transformation from the screen to the stage.  The play has all of the substance and none of the charm of the original.   It  gets  off to a promising start as Mrs. Robinson  seduces Benjamin Braddock, the 20-year old  misfit hero  (Luke Humphrey.) within the first ten minutes.


Benedict Vanier 1925-2014 A Spiritual Life

Par Alan Hustak le 20 mai 2014

benedict_vanier_01.jpgBenedict Vanier stood  tall,  head and shoulders above all the other  the Trappist  monks in his religious community  at l’Abbye Val Notre Dame in  St. Jean de Mantha.  The regal bearing came naturally. He   was  the   son of Canada’s devoutly catholic Governor-General Georges Vanier and his wife Pauline Archer. He   lived a life of contemplation in relative obscurity as a monk  and as a  priest for almost seven decades. Yet at his funeral on May 17, he was remembered as a genial spiritual advisor who was both pithy and profound. 

She gave away millions. Liliane Stewart, philanthropist 1928-2014

Par Alan Hustak le 3 mai 2014

lilianestewart.jpgLiliane M. Stewart, the Montreal tobacco heiress who  endowed and supported several Montreal museums, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Château Ramezay  the Stewart Museum on Île Sainte-Hélène,  and as well as a number of hospitals died early Saturday, May 3.  She was 85. She was an intensely private, sometimes difficult woman, who carried on and expanded her husband’s philanthropic works.  Mrs. Stewart  refused to talk about herself or answer personal questions.  Once, when asked to furnish biographical material to a journalist she declined.  “Me, I am me,” she said. “That’s all you need to know.  I am a very private person.”

Geriatric Gem: 4,000 Miles at Centaur

Par Alan Hustak le 2 avril 2014

4000_miles.jpgThank God for understanding grandmothers.
And thank our lucky stars for director Roy Surette’s  solid, production of Amy Herzog’s  intergenerational play, 4000 miles at the Centaur until April 20.   Essentially, the play is about blood ties, about   the relationship between Vera, a 91-year old non-judgmental grandmother (Clare Coulter) and her 21-year old grandson, Leo. (Nathan Barrett.)
Grandma, as it happens is  an  independent  left-wing idealist who cut her teeth during the McCarthy era.  She’s losing her hearing, she’s frail and a bit forgetful, but  still mentally tough and  perceptive,..

Shysters at the Segal: Glengarry Glen Ross By David Mamet

Par Alan Hustak le 24 mars 2014

Thomson_Watson_Glengarry_Glen_Ross.jpgIt takes a special cast to pull off a David Mamet play, and Paul Flicker has assembled a superlative team of actors who can indeed handle the playwright’s spare, scalding idiomatic dialogue with his directorial debut of Glen Garry Glen Ross at the Segal until March 30.  The 1984 Pulitzer Prize winning work about a group of cut-throat Chicago salesmen selling worthless Florida real-estate to gullible victims  is a riveting exercise in Flicker’s hands, made even more topical following the bust in the corrupt U.S. housing market six years ago.

War Is Hellish

Par Alan Hustak le 3 mars 2014

motherhouse_01.jpg“The War of the Worlds, not the one from outer space happened right here,”  Lillabit Bradley reminds us in David Fennario’s  Motherhouse, a 90-minute  monologue staged at the Centaur Theatre until March 23 to commemorate the centennial of the Great War.
Motherhouse is not so much a play as an arresting diatribe in search of one.   As the protagonist, Bradley, who worked at the British Munitions Factory in Verdun when her brother went off to fight the war, Holly Gauthier-Frankel has her work cut out for her.

Remembering Ryan

Par Alan Hustak le 18 février 2014

charest_mulroney.jpgFormer Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former Quebec premier Jean Charest paid homage last week to Claude Ryan, one of Quebec’s last great Catholic intellectuals.
Ryan, who was a champion of asymmetrical federalism, often frustrated both Mulroney and Charest with his notion that Quebec required enhanced constitutional powers to promote the equality of the French-language throughout Canada.
But that didn’t stop either of them from reminiscing about him on the 10th anniversary of his death, and warmly remembering him as a great Canadian. 

A Bob Forsaken Time

Par Alan Hustak le 17 février 2014

Book_of_Bob.jpgLucinda Davis is God in the Centaur Theatre’s  existential  drama The Book of Bob, and she’s divine. 

The premiere of  Arthur  Holden’s  updated interpretation of the strained Old Testament parable, The Book of Job,  running until March 2,   is a toute de force for Davis  who  is an astonishing  presence throughout the 90 minute show.   If, as  scripture  insists,   we are  created in the image of God,  Davis seizes the conceit  and infuses  ten different characters with her phenomenal  talent.  

The Seagull Soars at the Segal

Par Alan Hustak le 8 février 2014

Patrick_Costello_Constantine.jpgIn director Peter Hinton’s coherent and highly entertaining adaptation of The  Seagull at the Segal until Feb 19, Chekhov’s  enigmatic psychodrama  has been transplanted from a Russian dacha to a chalet somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. The script has been updated and is as full of  contemprary references as a pop-culture magazine.  It is a three-and a half –hour excursion into the tragi-comic relationships of dysfunctional family that has gathered together in the claustrophobic confines of the lakeshore cottage.
All of them are self-absorbed characters, who talk about art, philosophy and their individual struggles in an attempt to relate to one other  another. 

Claude Ryan Remembered

Par Alan Hustak le 1 février 2014

claude_ryan.jpgAlthough Claude Ryan died ten years ago  he remains a moral presence in Quebec. As a measure of his ongoing influence, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, NDP Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and former Quebec Premier Jean Charest will take part in a seminar at the Newman Centre on Peel St. February 13 and 14 marking the 10th anniversary of Ryan’s death.

As well, the first volume of Michael Gauvreau’s two volume Ryan  biography is about to be published.

Why The Red Hat Stays In Quebec City?

Par Alan Hustak le 16 janvier 2014

cardinal_lacroix.jpgMontreal may have been bypassed for appointment of a new Roman Catholic cardinal because Jean-Claude Turcotte remains eligible to vote in the College of Cardinals even though he retired two years ago.

Gérald Cyprian Lacroix will become the ninth Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec City – and one of three Canadian cardinals - when he is formally installed as a prince of the church in Rome on Feb 22.  Lacroix was given the red hat rather than Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepine,  62.

Bill 60 "Destructive Legislation". Quebec's Anglocatholics Want It Scrapped

Par Alan Hustak le 16 janvier 2014

Hustak_Alan_bw.jpgThe English Speaking Catholic Council wants the minority PQ government to scrap Bill 60 arguing that its proposed secular charter would undermine the so-called “First Freedoms” enshrined in any democratic society.In its submission to public hearings on the legislation which opened Jan 14, the ESCC says the bill is an “unnecessary and destructive” piece of  legislation.  

The issue has polarized Quebec.