Frédéric Paquet, Delphine Bienvenu, and Amir Sám Nakhjavani in Episode 7 of En Pointe (Photo Credit: Jaclyn Turner)
Tableau D’Hôte Theatre’s “En Pointe” mini-play series written and directed by Mathieu Murphy-Perron presents nine loosely related slice-of-life episodes of open-air, socially-distanced theatre in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watching the 7th episode in the series was an exercise in riding waves of competing emotions. The Laundromat centred Léopold and Eliza (Frédéric Paquet and Delphine Bienvenu) who devotees to this series would recognize as the wealthy real estate investors gentrifying Pointe-Saint-Charles in previous episodes. After their washing machine breaks down at home, they are forced to use the local laundromat. Léopold worries about being seen at a place he deems beneath him, while Eliza’s humble childhood fills this laundry trip with nostalgia.
Frédéric Paquet and Delphine Bienvenu (Photo Credit: Jaclyn Turner)
Delphine Bienvenu’s expertly delivered monologue about her childhood trips to the laundromat made me temporarily forget how much anger I still had toward her character from previous episodes, and even left me reminiscing about some of the quiet pleasures of unspoken working class solidarity from my own childhood. Her subtle hesitations in deciding whether to smoke her cigarette with or without the humorously stereotypical cigarette holder had me simultaneously rooting for her working class side and rolling my eyes at the very sight of a cigarette holder.
This mostly silent episode was in fact heavy with good physical theatre. Frédéric Paquet’s take on an embarrassed Léopold had the young boy in the front row giggling uncontrollably, and the wordless, contactless exchange between Eliza and Vincent (Amir Sám Nakhjavani) at the end of the play had me reflecting on it long after the play was over. In the masked world we now live in, it was refreshing and strange to indulge in people’s quiet facial expressions for a short while.
Delphine Bienvenu, Frédéric Paquet, and Amir Sám Nakhjavani (Photo Credit: Jaclyn Turner)
Lastly, this review could not be complete without a mention of the extremely unusual venue. Watching a play from the outside of a real life laundromat, looking into its large windows as if it were a giant, fluorescently glowing television embedded into a building wall was not an experience I will soon forget.
It is with dread that I inform you that there are only two episodes of this series left, and I remind potential new viewers that each play is a story within itself, and even if they will be the first ones you see, I highly recommend attending Episode 8 on Thursday September 17 at 6:00 pm and Episode 9 on Sunday, September 27th at 3:00 pm. The locations, as always, will remain secret until the day of the play.
Tableau D’Hôte Theatre’s En Pointe runs for 9 performances from August 6th to September 27th, 2020 across Pointe-Saint-Charles. Free admission. Every show is presented at a different location, revealed on the day of performances. Bring a mask.