Mercurial George grows on you
… after digestion

Dana Michel’s performance at l’Usine C sets itself apart

By Luc Archambault

There are shows that, from the start, set themselves apart and constitute sure bets. Others only stir up negative feelings. But there are those, and these constitute an exceptional category, that awaken negative feelings at first, only to evolve through time and after consideration constitute a positive experience. Mercurial George belongs to the latter category.

Mercurial George - Dana Michel - photo: Sammy-Rawal -

During this highly baroque and iconoclastic show, I felt only hate towards it, and a so very strong hatred… The performance’s length, one full hour, seemed never-ending. Especially at the end, when Madame Michel walks around the stage for a full eight minutes (at fifteen seconds per lap, it totals thirty-two laps), followed by three minutes without any lights, only the sound of breaking waves to be heard. And, during the whole performance, gestures and movements all the more trivial than the others, only accumulating themselves (like, she crawled on the floor and tried to cover herself with a carpet). To put it plainly, the choreography looked like a homeless woman desperately looking for a heroin fix. It was that trashy.

Mercurial George - Dana Michel - photo: Sammy-Rawal -

Then, a strange thing happened. With the passing of time, I began to feel that the images and sounds from this performance were gaining strength within me. What I first hated with a vengeance was morphing into deep thoughts, everything that had irritated me was transforming into memory pearls. I had to concede defeat. Mercurial George and its creator, Dana Michel, had just marked my week with a red-hot iron.

Mercurial George - Dana Michel - photo: Sammy-Rawal -

Choreography/dancer: Madame Michel’s wiggling isn’t very elegant, but it is efficient. In fact, each of her movements is well defined, even if it feels improvised. To attain this effect, one usually has to work really hard rehearsing these hours on end – 18/20

Music/sound environment: relatively discreet, until the final tsunami. What is particularly well done is Madame Michel’s muttering, which adds much to the performance – 20/20

Scenography: all the stage is utilized with great care. We could even add to perfection. The diverse objects dispersed throughout the space are practically used. A bit simplistic, though – 18/20

Oomph factor: with its viral quality, with its highly suggestive character and the persistence of memory it induces, this show is a real success – 20/20

Total score: 96%

Images : Sammy-Rawal

Luc Archambault

Luc Archambault
Writer and journalist, globe-trotter at heart, passionate about movies, music, literature and contemporary dance, came back to Montreal to pursue his unrelenting quest for artistic meaning.


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