It’s a metropolis of melting pots and pot-holed pavements where every straphanger romanticizes over the chance public encounter, longing for contact and connection to vanquish the desolation of the daily commute’s grind. What happens when worlds collide, however, is not always fortuitous.
Originally presented as “Lignedebus” at Théâtre Aux Écuries in February of 2014, “Bus Stops” (written by Theatre I.N.K. Co-founder and Co-Artistic Director, Marilyn Perreault) now sets ablaze the Centaur Theatre stage in its English language world premiere.
Herein, Perrault herself portrays a coroner in the aftermath of a catastrophic bus explosion without a clear culprit. Caught in the impetuous, finger-pointing media race to ferret the details of this mystery massacre, she’s out to uncover the stories of each ill-fated victim and deliver a just verdict by attempting to make sense of the seemingly inexplicable.
In a tragicomical convergence of fates, the lives of passengers Sandy (Victoria Diamond), Jimmy (Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon), Daniela (Nora Guerch), Rachel (Annie Ranger), Tom (Alexandre Lavigne) and driver Henri (Hugues Sarra-Bournet) become intertwined (and violently halted) on a one-way ride to inferno. Traces and testimonials of their secrets, relationships, and motives begin to surface in the post-mortem investigation and the puzzle pieces of who, what, when, where, why, and how come together to reveal a most unexpected portrait of conclusions.
Blended elements of circus, dance, and movement eloquently make their way into the slaughterhouse as the talented ensemble of acrobat-actors contort, twist, and turn to tell their anecdotal tales on an onboard gym of loops, poles, bars, straps, and chairs. The physicality of the performance aids in eliciting a visceral response to the gravity of the circumstances at play.
Patrice Charbonneau-Brunelle’s titanic set design of a carbonized carcass truly evokes breathlessness and is hauntingly complemented by Martin Gagné’s transcendental, dramatic lighting and 3D design and Michael Leon’s aural collage of music and sound effects. Equally impressive stagecraft is Thierry Francis’ video design with incorporated live projections, providing context for much of the storytelling and painting the plot with thrilling cinematics. (Sincerely, “Bus Stops” is a ride worth taking just for the audiovisual spectacle alone.)
Despite highly stimulating moments of colour, melody, and movement, regrettably technology and processing cannot entirely offset meaty dialogue that, as if also charred, can be slightly difficult to digest at times (it’s conceivable that the original French transcript may have perhaps been more effective in this regard). Unequivocally, the production’s highlights are found in its moments of multi-disciplinary narrative.
At its seat, though, “Bus Stops” is commendable for kindling the conversation on the struggles of isolation, alienation, rejection, bullying, and mental illness as well as bringing to the forefront the pertinent social issues of multiculturalism in Quebec, the fetishization of violence, and the racialization of crime and punishment. Relevant, tech-savvy, and still ultimately soulful, it’s a piece Montreal audiences will delight in and should be steered towards so as to not miss catching.
“Bus Stops”, produced by Montreal company Theatre I.N.K., plays at the Centaur Theatre until March 27th. For more information, check out our What’s On Calendar or the official website. For tickets, click here or contact the Centaur Theatre box office at 514-288-3161.