“Abraham Lincoln goes to the theater”: dying on stage
Yves Renaud Bruno Marcil, in the role of Abraham Lincoln, in the company of Mani Soleymanlou and Luc Bourgeois, who play Hardy and Laurel
At 68, after having given Quebec drama some of his most unique plays, some of his most daring works on the formal level, Larry Tremblay is finally making his debut at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. Directed by Catherine Vidal, fifteen years after it was created by Claude Poissant under the banner of the Théâtre PÀP, Abraham Lincoln goes to the theater is a vertiginous play, a terrible dive and nevertheless breathtaking in the spectacular paradoxes of America.
Why on April 14, 1865, during a performance of the play Our American Cousinat Ford's Theater in Washington, did comedian John Wilkes Booth assassinate President Abraham Lincoln? To find an answer to this question which torments him, of course by using the means of the theatre, the director Marc Killman (Bruno Marcil), our contemporary, calls on two actors, Léonard (Mani Soleymanlou) and Christian (Luc Bourgeois ). When Killman dies in the middle of rehearsal, it is Sébastien Johnson (Didier Lucien) who is hired to complete the project. It should be noted that at the very moment Lincoln was invited to the TNM stage, Edmond Rostand was evoked at the Green Curtain and Louis II, King of Bavaria, at the Denise-Pelletier theatre. Three Quebec plays playing at the same time use historical figures to shed light on the present.
Questions of identity
After The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi and The ventriloquist, Larry Tremblay offered with Abraham Lincoln goes to the theaterwhich is still today the most ingenious of his quests for identity, a necklace of wacky and disturbing mise en abyme, a space where the truths, all of a sudden momentary, fit together as impeccably as Russian dolls. It is a convoluted narrative, but where nothing is left to chance; an adventure full of twists, but where the comic and the tragic never leave each other; a cascade of revelations, but where the mask always falls to reveal… another mask. We recognize all the same that, in the last third of this show of almost two hours, the device, as mastered as it is, becomes a bit boring.
Among the many alter egos who invite themselves into the rehearsal room, we must mention Laurel and Hardy, the famous comedy duo in activity from 1927 to 1955. To Christian, the actor, Marc, the director, says: “I want you to play Stan Laurel playing John Wilkes Booth about to assassinate the statue of Abraham Lincoln. This gives an idea of the way in which identities constantly fit together in this game of massacre that Catherine Vidal has chosen to set in a sober environment, a partially clouded mirror with larks, a space with deceptive reflections thanks to which Geneviève Lizotte (scenography) and Étienne Boucher (lighting) skillfully accentuate the duplication of beings.
To marry the burlesque character of the work, the director used video projections which we will be content to say that they arouse rather fat laughs. While the interpretations of Bruno Marcil and Dider Lucien offer little reason to rejoice, those of Mani Soleymanlou and Luc Bourgeois are irresistible in their rigor and complicity. To the precision of the language, to the clarity of the message, to the truculence of the compositions, never pouring into histrionics, is grafted the rich body language with which the characters are endowed. We clearly recognize the unique touch of choreographer Mélanie Demers in the setting in motion. After Chapters of the fall and At the top of the mountain, this show allows Catherine Vidal to continue her reflection on the other side of the American dream, a cycle to which we sincerely hope that other parts are added.
Abraham Lincoln goes to the theater
Text: Larry Tremblay. Director: Catherine Vidal. At the TNM, until April 8.