We all know the story of the bar, the coffee shop, the library, or that special place to close to our hearts that has gone under, has been bought out or has suffered utter destruction. It is neither a new story nor a particularly fascinating one, but Le Cabinet d’Ingéniosités’ “Nous sommes les enfants du hangover 95”, directed and written by Emmanuelle Brousseau demonstrates quite well that sometimes, it’s not about new and exciting originality, but rather about expert delivery and meticulous execution. Throw in a little creepy ghost story and some frenglish and all of a sudden you are placed in an environment that is eerie, engaging and intriguing.
The bilingual play opens with Sue (Ajouna Bao-Lavoie), a bored ballerina, alone on stage, practicing her craft. Right from the top, her loneliness and resentment is felt before she even begins speaks. Her boredom takes her to “Le Célèbre Bar Windigo”, where she becomes employed under its crude, tough and jaded manager Maxime (Marie-Andrée Lemieux). The other two employees with whom she shares her employ include Julien (Félix Chabot-Fontaine); a stereotypical “cool guy” who behaves like all other “cool guys” in bars –– that is to say, badly –– and Jude (Alexandra Maynard) the sweetest ukulele player I’ve ever seen. Once the characters established, the story develops; The Windigo has no legs to stand on, the clientele is outdated, and the town is just too small to support it the way it should. And the news of closing it down for the night of Fête St Jean Baptiste sets in motion a blur of possible solutions on how to save it.
The story moves and flits about quite a lot and it can be difficult, at times, to place ourselves within the timeline. However, the company uses one very efficient set piece to narrate through the transitions; one solitary bar on wheels with all the alcohol you could possibly want on its bottom shelf. Anytime the scene changes or shifts so does the bar, sometimes, with one of the players on top of it! This was quite exciting to see. It allowed for these transitions to run smoothly without taking the audience out of the moment. Our eyes were able to follow the movements fluidly and engage with the characters at center stage, center stage being wherever the bar was at the time, while the non playing characters placed themselves on the sides in various stage business tableaus. Never distracting the audience but successfully exhibiting real and raw emotions toward themselves, each other and their situations.
There were a few plot twists here and there alluding to deeper development like Maxime and Julien’s previous relationship, Jude’s unstable permanence, Sue’s need to begin all over again and Julien’s dark past, but nothing quite relatable in the grand scheme of things. One might assume that in a bar called Le Windigo, there would be more talk of ghosts and hauntings, but the hommage is barely spoken of other than a brief description in the beginning. There are a couple of references in terms of one old and grubby totem and an infuriating broken door that only opens for the right people; “The Windigo chooses us”.
I would have loved to have found out more about the history and have been taken deeper into the world of the Windigo, as the description suggested, but this was not the case. Instead, we were taken on a journey of self preservation in a world that doesn’t care about us with few tidbits here and there referencing a dire darkness that is born not of ghost stories, but out of sheer and utter boredom.
In essence, this play is about human relationships, human connections and people who have found themselves in the same situation accidentally and banding together in the face of impending disaster and each character provides us with their own impulsive processes resulting in a rather unexpected way to “save” the big St Jean Party at “Le Bar Célèbre Windigo”.
A solid play, a talented cast, a smooth and simple set and an old story told anew, but with just a little something missing to raise those stakes we all love so much.
“WHO IT’S FOR”
This play is for those who want a relaxed experience, for those who like the “new traditional “and for those Fringe goers that have all sorts of time to go see all sorts of shows.
Le Cabinet d’Ingéniosités presents “Nous Sommes Les Enfants du Hangover 95”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Performances: June 6 – June 16, 2019
Venue: 04 – Studio Multimédia du Conservatoire
4750 Henri-Julien, Montréal, H2T 2C8
Admission: $12 | Ages 16+
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from this year’s fest on our Fringe page!