Tantalus Theatre Presents
Small-scale Gem

Adoration is latest showcase for new plays and actors

By Byron Toben

Montreal area drama programs keep turning out fine actors who appear in small-scale gems as they hone their skills before moving to Toronto for more opportunities (but also more completion).

The latest is the brainchild of John Abbott College’s Adrian MacDonald and Rahul Ghandi. They have dubbed their new company Tantalus and co-directed their latest show in the quirky Studio Porte Bleue (more on both later).

The show Adoration was written by fellow John Abbott grad Violetta Kay who aptly named, also plays violin throughout the piece, for which she also composed the music. There are many examples of generic church compositions called adorations. Perhaps the background music here may have been inspired by Felix Borowski’s, which was featured on one of the earliest Edison recordings (1914).

Two of the four young actors are also John Abbott alums – Nick Fontaine who plays Treplev, a talented but demanding and misanthropic violin teacher, and Vanessa Schmoetz who plays Nina, one of his pupils who goes on to become a violin teacher herself. Both inhabited their characters creditably.

Adrian MacDonald, Rahul Gandhi, Violette Kay

Adrian MacDonald, Rahul Gandhi and Violette Kay

The other two, both Dawson theatre grads, portraying a younger generation of violin students are Skyler Clark (Valerie) and Nils Svenson-Carell (Adrian). They both had appeared in sequential Shakespeare versions of Much Ado About Nothing and Troilus and Cressida at the Mainline Theatre. Mr. Svenson-Carell, who was also in Persephone’s Moby Dick hails from Sweden before making the trans Atlantic jump (worked out well for Max von Sydow and Ingrid Bergman!). Ms. Clark has an endearing gamine-like quality that should serve her well in future casting.

Much of the plot deals with the difficulties of perfecting one’s art while making a living. The parallel between actors and musicians, indeed any artistic pursuit, was evident.

A few other comments – the script seemed a bit jumpy, even though I don’t mind fast forwards and fast backwards. The show has been accepted for the 2017 Montreal Fringe so it will be interesting to see what morphing may or may not have occurred by then. Every night talkbacks take place after the 80-minute show.

The show has been accepted for the 2017 Montreal Fringe so it will be interesting to see what morphing may or may not have occurred by then.

Notice to viewers of limited mobility. Studio Porte Bleue is at the top of a steep 3-floor walk up. It is also a small space (guess about 36 seats), mostly on hard backless benches, so seat pads not a bad idea for some. This is a way off-off-off Broadway venue, albeit with a decent washroom. But this comes with the territory. Incubators give bragging rights to early audiences before shows reach the Centaur or Segal, Toronto or New York. And even if they never do, it’s fun.

One minor point – the program mentions that the script is loosely based on Chekhov’s Seagull. Loosely is definitely the operative word here. Ok, there’s a suicide. But hey, c’mon.

Adoration continues at Studio Porte Bleue on Thursdays to Sundays until March 12.
For ore information contact

Images: courtesy of Tantalus Theatre

Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club


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