George Bekiaris, France Rolland, and Matt Holland in Episode 10 of En Pointe (Photo Credit: Jaclyn Turner)
Tableau D’Hôte Theatre’s “En Pointe” mini-play series written and directed by Mathieu Murphy-Perron presenting loosely related slice-of-life episodes of open-air, socially-distanced theatre, returned with a surprise holiday-themed episode: “Chloé’s Gift”.
The protest play opens with new father Marcus (George Bekiaris), agonizing over potential Christmas presents for his newborn. Of course, he’s not really upset over the presents, rather he’s feeling the despair of caring for and raising his baby without the help of his community, from which he is cut off due to the pandemic. With a little Christmas cheer, grumpy Santa Frank (Matt Holland) and quirky Yvette (France Rolland) remind him that presents don’t really matter (especially to a 2-month-old), and there are still plenty of ways to show each other some love during this gloomy holiday season.
George Bekiaris and France Rolland (Photo Credit: Jaclyn Turner)
I can’t hide that I’ve been a big fan of this series so far, and this episode made me both laugh and tear up in the span of ten minutes. France Rolland deserves a special mention for her notable and sweet portrayal of Yvette, whose warmth was incredibly welcome on such a bitterly cold and damp day. The grey, muddy weather certainly encapsulated the dread that so many of us feel on a regular basis, but the play, both in its narrative and its rebellious existence, reminded the audience that as a community, we can make our own sources of joy, even under these circumstances.
If this all sounds incredibly cheesy to you, you’d be right, it totally was (there was even a musical number), but we’re all starved for a little sincere optimism right now, and this hit the spot better than Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies. With so few opportunities or reasons to leave the house with a purpose other than groceries or aimless walks, a free community play was just what I needed.
Finally, if serving the community of Pointe-Saint-Charles was this series’ goal, this episode met the goal in more ways than one. Dragging the audience to a gloomy parking lot at 1900 Rue le Ber left me a bit puzzled, until Frank mentioned the (real-life) community fridge just behind them. As always, “En Pointe” showed a deep understanding of the politics and problems of the neighbourhood. Introducing the community to a resource they might not have been familiar with (and perhaps might not have needed before the pandemic), with the lure of affordable, accessible entertainment was clever and helpful.
I can only hope that this is not the last we see from this series, and that I have the opportunity to explore this neighbourhood through theatre some more!
Episode 10 of Tableau D’Hôte Theatre’s En Pointe was presented live for a single performance on December 13th, 2020. Recorded video and graphic novel adaptations of the full series are available at www.tableaudhote.ca.