Earlier this year when “Adoration” presented by Tantalus Theatre premiered at Studio Porte Bleue, I didn’t stop hearing the buzz that it created for a solid month; thus, I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to review this show during its remount at the Fringe Festival.
The piece is powerful, bringing a contemporary message to an adaptation of an beloved classic. Loosely based on The Seagull by Anton Chekhov, playwright and violinist Violette Kay beautifully encapsulates what it means to want to make a career out of an adoration for the arts, and explores the love and the relationships that we form through these passions that we carry within us.
Emerging theatre company Tantalus couldn’t have selected a better play as their debut project. Just as the Greek myth of Tantalus describes a human being forever “tantalized”, never able to reach the low hanging fruit that dangles just out of reach, the memorable characters that Kay fashions and that the company has brought to life on stage are tortured by the very same thing. Maybe that’s just the life of an artist; maybe it’s always been that way. Nevertheless, walking out of Adoration I realized that there’s a paradox that contemporary artists inevitably face: the world demands genuine art, but the general public – especially in consideration of the competitive, fast paced world that we live in – want to have their socks blown off. In other words, “why do we always have to play the hardest thing we know” if the song we love the most, the one that brings forth the most sincere and profound emotion, is considered “too simple”‘?
As I entered the theatre, I almost felt as if I was entering a foreign country. Allow me to illustrate: you’re immediately sucked into a world where the world, instead of revolving around the sun, revolves instead around music. The set is simple, but not bare. Black flats at the back of the stage have sheet music painted onto them. It’s a language I can’t understand, and I’m a little intimidated. Kay herself stalks around the stage as the audience settles in, playing various melodies off of the many sheets that litter the floor.
Being an emerging artist myself, it was incredibly easy for me to connect with this piece. However, it may also be for that same reason that there were some scenes that fell flat. Bouncing around the edges of the stage, in a way that reminded me of stressful pacing, the characters went through the dialogue (some of which seemed a little long) of the scene without looking at each other and in a continued state of movement. I tried to track a pattern or a purpose to these movements, but in the end it just seemed like they weren’t on the same page. Perhaps this was the case, but this wasn’t clear. It could be that I just didn’t get it, but I felt at times like the blocking was simply fashioned this way in order to spiff up a scene that otherwise would have been a little stand-still.
Regardless, perhaps the reason that I enjoyed this remarkably written play so much was because I live in the same world as those who worked on it. Adoration will, however, speak to a wider audience than just musicians and artists. It’s about the worry that you hold deep within yourself that you’re not never enough or not living up to your full potential; it’s about never being sure what the one you love the most could possibly see in you; it’s about taking a passion and riding it through thick and thin and then suddenly looking back and being inexplicably joyous. To put it plainly, I look forward to all the future projects that Tantalus no doubt has in store.
Review by Montreal Theatre Hub Fringe Contributor Jasmine Mrenica
Tantalus presents “Adoration”
When: June 9 – 18, 2017
Where: Théâtre MainLine Theatre, 3997 Saint-Laurent
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: www.montrealfringe.ca | 514.849.FEST (3378)
Official Media Partner of the 2017 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival