and events to come
Some mid-month shows appearing on the local scene
By Byron Toben
Ireland Meets Quebec in Words and Music was presented by Bloomsday Montréal at the Wheel Club as part of its interim events to keep in the public mind before its annual celebration in and around June 16. (This interim practice is common with our other festivals like the Jazz, Just for Laughs comedy and Blue Metropolis literary events.)
Moderated by Bloomsday Montréal artistic director Kathleen Fee, this event was built around readings from Suzanne Aubrey’s now nine-volume bestseller saga series Fanette, which chronicles an Irish family fleeing the great hunger in coffin ships to Canada and the USA. Tribulations, including rotten food, seasickness, vomiting, onboard typhoid and deaths, are depicted. Joining Ms. Aubrey in her French readings was her trilingual (English, French and Gaelic) translator, Martina Branahan, reading in English.
Initial safety in Quebec was not easy but perseverance and spirit eventually prevailed for many as they worked their way up from beggary to a sort of Bourgeoisie. Augmenting these dramatic readings by Ms. Aubrey (a graduate of the National Theatre School as well as being the current head of UNEQ, the Quebec Union of writers) and Ms. Branahan, (editor in chief of Nuacht, the community newsletter of the Saint Patrick Society), was the musical duo The Swindlers, comprised of Jonathan Moorman on fiddle and Sean Dagher on guitar and both on vocals at appropriate intervals.
…this event was built around readings from Suzanne Aubrey’s now nine-volume bestseller saga series Fanette, which chronicles an Irish family fleeing the great hunger in coffin ships to Canada and the USA.
After the show, brief comments were made by the co-founder of Bloomsday Montréal, David Schurman, and current president Kevin Wright.
For a free streaming of the event go to youtube.com
CONTINUING UNTIL NOVEMBER 21
Hudson Village Theatre presents The Bench. A satirical comedy by Keir McAllister and directed by Clint Ward, it stars John Elliott and Steve Walters, both well known to Lakeshore Community audiences. Tickets are $25.
CONTINUING UNTIL DECEMBER 5
Centaur Theatre presents All I Want for Christmas by Rebecca Northan, who also directs. Centaur audiences will remember her hit show, Blind Date, from the 2019 season. This one features an elf in Santa’s workshop when things go wrong on December 23. Tickets range from $32 to $60.
NOVEMBER 19 TO 21
Théâtre MainLine presents Jesus Hopped the “A” Train. Set in Rikers prison in NYC, this play by Stephen Adly Guirgis and directed by Rahul Gandhi features five actors on murderer’s row. It’s 2 hours long, including one intermission. Tickets are $20.
CONTINUING UNTIL NOVEMBER 21
Cinemania, this hugely popular annual festival of French films with English subtitles, has finished its in-person showings but the bulk of its selections are still available by streaming until November 21. Here are reviews of two of its selections by Faith Langston.
La Place d’une autre or A Secret Name
In 2021, identity theft is unscrupulous but impersonal, a covert transaction made for financial gain. Though the stealing of another character’s name and background is key to the plot of La Place d’une autre or Secret Name, identity theft in this movie touches on different issues – questions of entitlement and social injustice.
‘Can taking over another person’s identity be justified as a means of survival? The answers are found in George’s skilful, fresh treatment of this subject.’
The themes for this superbly acted film are drawn from a book entitled The New Magdalene, written in 1873(!) by the then-popular British novelist Wilkie Collins. Director Aurelia Georges has astutely moved the time frame of the story forward to World War 1. It is 1914 and Nelie (Lyna Khoudri) has escaped her life of poverty and become a nurse’s auxiliary on the wartime front. When Rose (Maud Wyler), a young woman from a well-established family seemingly dies, Nelie takes over her identity. Can taking over another person’s identity be justified as a means of survival? The answers are found in George’s skilful, fresh treatment of this subject.
Ibraham (released in 2020) was Samir Guesmi‘s directorial debut. Its official selection at Cannes for best movie and best director was well deserved. Conceived as a tribute to his father, Samir Guesmi together with Rosa Attab, Camille Lugan, and Sylvie Verheyde have crafted a moving but realistic portrayal of a father-son relationship.
‘Ibraham… was Samir Guesmi’s directorial debut. Its official selection at Cannes for best movie and best director was well deserved.’
Ibraham (Abdel Bendaher) is a young man torn between his father and the delinquent world of his contemporary, Achille (Rabah Nait Oufella). His friend’s shady world of risky dealings and plentiful but wrongfully gained money contrasts with the deteriorating financial circumstances experienced by Ibraham’s father. Though Ahmed (played by Samir Guesmi) sometimes deals with his son harshly, we sense that a deeply felt affection between the two exists. Finally, it is forgiveness which liberates the love in this difficult relationship.
The Mary Ann Lacey Quartet played indoors at the spacious La Petite Marche, free of charge (pass the hat contributions). This pitch-perfect singer recalls the great standards from the 30s, 40s and 50s, with some in French and even Spanish sprinkled in.
Prolific Jazz drummer Jim Doxas was featured at the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill.
And also on November 13, pianist Felix Stussi‘s two groups, Auguste Quintet and Jazzlab Orchestra, launched two new albums, Exacta Cosma, and the unusually named Loguslabusmusikus at Gesu hall.
The Honeysuckle Sisters harmonized at the CAS (Centre des Arts Stanstead). Their ensemble singing, some say, recalls the Andrews Sisters of days of yore.
Singer Mira Choquette performed at the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill.
Juno recipient singer Dawn Tyler Watson performs at the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill. $16.50 plus tax.
Feature image: frame from La Place d’une autre
More articles from Byron Toben
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.
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