Trent Pardy, Delphine Bienvenu, France Rolland, Jean-Robert Bourdage (photo credit: Jeff Mann)
by Chad Dembski
Back in the Fall when I was looking at the various seasons for theatres in Montreal I remember being stunned at the inclusion of not one but two English productions at Théâtre Aux Écuries a newly renovated theatre space at 7285 Chabot, just north of Jean Talon. One the two main Artistic Directors is Olivier Choinière, a very popular Québecois theatre artist famous for Chant avec Moi (Espace Libre 2011, FTA 2012) and his podcast play during a Théatre du Nouveau Monde (TNM) production that caused much controversy. Bliss is the first English language production at Théatre Aux Ecuries and I personally hope this continues as this theatre is exciting, innovative and has a young audience that other theatres are dying for.
A vivid, tense and sprawling world is described to us that at times honestly had me lost but never bored me.
Bliss is a fascinating memory play of sorts as four Wal-Mart employees recount in exact detail their memory of a Céline Dion concert. This bleeds into recounting a press conference and then a private tragic moment in her life and one begins to wonder what is being made up and what, if anything is based on fact. Their attention to detail (flowers on a dresser, who was in a room and when) give an impression that these people were there but gradually a realization hits that this information is being pulled from tabloid newspapers. Just as I was getting settled into this world of Céline, René and their various employees who buzz around them I was ripped into an alternative universe of a young girl surrounded by a deranged family. The inspiration for the piece was the tragic story of Isabelle Coté, who is chained by her family to a bed for her entire life up until the age of 17.
Read also director Steven McCarthy's answer to The Question