The void; it powerfully beckons us, urging us to explore its deep obscurity into the nothingness of our lost, broken and sorrowed souls. Whether you’ve lost a loved one, have yourself been lost or if you’ve ever felt such a darkness creep upon you, L’Appel du Vide delivers a hauntingly beautiful piece that is both intense in emotion and appealing in visuals that are sure to make you feel all the things.
Rats!?’s L’Appel du Vide, written and directed by Michael Treder, starring Natasha Perry-Fagant of Acherontia Productions’ A David Lynch Wet Dream, is the story of a young witch, Maya, who is attempting to navigate the trauma of having lost her sister to suicide. She goes to great lengths to rebuild, reconnect and heal through dark magic and so the world as we know it is at great risk of coming to an end. But so what, it’s for love and redemption.
This one woman show, superbly performed by Natasha PF; a phenomenal actress, addresses profound issues dealing with loss and suicide. Upon entering the stage, our heroine runs frantically across the stage prepping her ritual area. She is stressed, disorganized and distraught, building tension from the very beginning. Right away, we are with her, we want to know what’s going on, what she’s doing and why. And thus, engaged with the story within 15 seconds. Once her ceremonial props are set, she runs off again only to come back with a body, all wrapped up and definitely not alive. She begins to speak her truth to this body and so reveals that it is her sister. For the next 40 minutes, we learn a lot about Maya, her sister, her family, her childhood and her life now. It’s pretty amazing how much information we can learn about someone in such a short amount of time, high props to some great writing!
There was a lot of information here, how her and her sister would “play” witch as kids, how the parents divided their love for their children, how much Maya needed her sister. Most importantly though, for me anyways, was when we finally get a glimpse Maya’s inner turmoil. I’m about to get real here so bear with me.
Suicide. It’s a difficult thing to talk about, on stage, in life, with therapists. I myself have been suicidal, have had attempts, have had and have friends who are suicidal and have lost someone to suicide. None of it is awesome and it never really goes away, it just changes. Natasha plays this incredibly well. The emotion she gives to Maya rings through the theatre. When she related to her dead sister on the floor her anger for having left her, her desperate sadness that she wasn’t with her, and finally, her confession of having once had a “plan”, struck home so hard for me. I wanted to jump out of my seat and give her the biggest and longest hug; both Maya the character and Natasha PF, the professional. It’s obvious the amount of work and commitment she put into this character; delving into Maya’s dark mind, into her anguish, into her void. But, as much as it might have triggered these parts of myself I have reconciled with, it also made me feel blessed that I have overcome so very much, and I hope others who suffer will experience this releasing catharsis too.
I’ll lighten up the mood now and regale you with the stunning lighting and sound. Throughout the entirety of the piece, there is a constant rumble present, establishing a darkened ambiance, punctuated with typical life sounds here in there to bring us back to reality. The lighting used is subtle and constant as well, sometimes strobing lightly, sometimes blurring the stage, and sometimes leaving us in sombre dimness. These combined elements of sound and light are highly effective for creating the kind of mood that makes us want to conjure up some dark magic and reconnect with lost loved ones. With Maya, we are in the void!
Treder and PF are an incredible duo, a dynamic team. Theirs is a show not to be missed. My only wish was for it to be longer, to dive even deeper into the plethora of emotions offered. There is so much inner self- exploration to analyze with this piece, and I guarantee that you will be changed when you leave. To me, that is the mark of not a good show, but a great one, leaving with something to think about in a real way.
“WHO IT’S FOR”
This show is for those who are suffering or have suffered and for those who want to really feel things. But beware, it is not for the faint of heart. It deals with issues that are often very jarring and difficult to talk about. But this show is also for all Fringers who like to get a bit more serious, who are interested in the occult and who like embracing their inner darkness.
rats!? presents “L’appel du vide”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Performances: June 6 – 16, 2019
Venue: 05 – Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire
4750 Henri-Julien, Montréal, H2T 2C8
Admission: $11 | Ages 16+
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from this year’s fest on our Fringe page!