King Dave captures trials
of young Haitian-Quebecer
The world premiere of the English translation of the French hit at the Centaur
By Byron Toben
April 6, 2023
The Centaur Theatre, which has been active in exposing its shows to French-speaking audiences and Quebec shows to its English-speaking audiences, succeeds again with its latest, King Dave.
In the French original, mounted in 2021 at Théâtre Duceppe, the protagonist, Dave (Patrick Emmanuel Abellard), was joined on stage by two women playing his girlfriends. In this version, translated into English by him, it becomes a one-man show, although he ably captures their feminine voices when dialoguing with them.
In his athletic movements, with a hip hop or rap tempo, he relates his disappointments in finding meaningful employment, his sad breakup with his girlfriend Natalie, and suffering a beating from a street gang. Still, he feels he is not “just anybody” but self-appoints himself as “King” Dave.
He takes revenge on his torturers by setting the woods they hang out in on fire and traverses Montreal endlessly on the underground Metro. On one such trip, he encounters Natalie’s friend, Elizabeth, who invites him for tea and more.
This odyssey of being trapped in a culture of violence and brief respites was written by Alexandre Goyette, adapted in collaboration with Anglesh Major and directed by Christian Fortin, proving again that even a one-man show is a collaborative exercise.
The Centaur has adopted a policy of having a free related musical concert in its Gallery after one performance of each of its runs and so it was the night I saw this show, on April 1. Although hip hop and such are not normally my cup of tea, I was impressed by the Jexxy Jex combo with such numbers as Barbados.
King Dave continues at the Centaur until April 16.
Images: Andrée Lanthier
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.