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Review: Summersett and Depflies

Summersett Band closes Offside at Wildside

By Byron Toben

The popular Summersett band played a number of Bowie songs at the Saturday night after hours Offside in the Seagram gallery at the Centaur’s annual Wildside theatre festival. David Bowie was the designated musician in this third annual Offside innovation, curated by actor Johanna Nutter. Prior years featured Lou Reed and Tom Waits. You can hear Mr. Reed himself singing his Walk On The Wild Side that gave its title to this festival here.

The band was created by pianist/arranger /playwright Nick Carpenter and singer/actor Patricia Summersett. A rich tone was assured with Pierre Gaudreault on bass, Jean-Phillipe Godbout on drums, Sheila Hannigan on cello and Amelie Lamontagne on violin. Ms. Summersett was right on with The Man Who Sold The World and Lady Grinning Soul. Her Young Americans roused many in the crowd to join in and dance. You can hear Bowie himself singing that song here.

Guest star actor/singer Holly Gauthier-Frankel was also featured on vocals. Joining in the fun as other guest musicians were Elena Belyea (of Wildside show Miss Katelyn), Seamus Ryan, Corinna Rose, Christian Norton and Ms. Nutter herself.

The Summersett band has many selections on iTunes. Check out summersettband.com

Image: courtesy of Summersett


 

photo: Depflies

Depflies IX – La guerre des tarps

By Byron Toben

Hard to believe that Depflies, the bilingual soap opera of the lovable losers that hang out at the mythical dépanneur in St.Henri has now reached its ninth episode. The series recently reached second place in the CBC national contest to sponsor a regular sitcom and the exposure portends more plaudits to come… not bad for an anti-establishment group like Le Nouveau International which performs their stuff at the cozy Théâtre Ste-Catherine.

For those not familiar with the intermittent series, a “depfly” is some one who hangs out at the local dépanneur as does a barfly at a bar. The recurrent characters include the owner Maire-Issa (Elizabeth Fennel), her brother Peter, a punk poet who handles deliveries (Alain Mercieca), laconic lay-about Roger (Simon Charvarie), his girlfriend Nancie (Sandy Armstrong) and Zoe the social activist (Lise Vigneault).

For those not familiar with the intermittent series, a “depfly” is someone who hangs out at the local dépanneur as does a barfly at a bar.

Episode IX begins where VIII left off. There, gentrifying developers, lead by Pamela (Maite Sinave) sought to bulldoze the dep as a key parcel to redevelop the whole area. This was stymied by Zoe’s blockade, but ended on a cliffhanger note as she was smacked by a wrecking ball. While narrowly recovering in a hospital, Zoe is visited by Pamela who seeks to finish her off. A thrilling ninja-like fight ensues, won by Zoe and life returns to normal, to the background refrain of “I wanna be your depanneur” and the vocal ding-a-lings as customers enter and exit the store.

Ah, but El Nino is back, snow blizzards are a-coming and Peter, with new neighbour Valentina (Catherine Moreau) devises a collection of Abris Tempo tarpaulins as a super dome over the hood to keep it an oasis during the winter. It is open to all who want to live freely like the swinging vieille (Marie-Noel) Cyr. Zoe promotes a delicious “soup-water” to be distributed by public fountains. Yuppies, however are denied entrance, even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Danny Belair)! Lots of faux car rides, a horse ride and a string of stuffed dogs being walked ensure that visual movement and imagination keep things hopping. Eventually, St. Henri residents, aided by Hochelagans, have to fend off hordes of envious Westmounters, NDGers and others who want to take over the district in The War Of The Tarps.

Peter… devises a collection of Abris Tempo tarpaulins as a super dome over the hood to keep it an oasis during the winter. Yuppies, however are denied entrance, even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau…

Through it all, on the over head screen, Nancie collects a 30-year supply of canned goods and shepherds her brood of four into her home built shelter to wait out the weather and possible terrorist attacks (shades of late 50’s A-bomb shelters).

Even though the series was scripted by Mr. Mercieca, the overall feel is that of improv sketch comedy, of which all these actors are masters. The previous eight episodes as I recall, were about 60-40 English-French, one way or the other, whereas the current one about 75% French. However, even unilingual Anglos can readily get the drift.

Depflies IX – La guerre des tarps ended on January 16, drawing good crowds despite coinciding with the Centaur Wildside.

For current shows, see theatresaintecatherine.com


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

 

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