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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review: Humans

(photo credit: Jaclyn Turner)
The Breath of Theatre
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Tonight, when the audience arrived to pack the house for the premiere of Tableau D'Hote's production of Daniel MacIvor's Humans, the weather was mild...almost balmy. When we left the theatre, there was a raging snow storm, visibility was damn near nil and the wind was mocking us all.

Oddly, the weather was like a mirror reflection of the evening I had just gone through at the Segal Centre. Inside the stories MacIvor tells began in a gorgeous explosion of energy taken up by the ensemble of ten—a flurry of stage-movement, dance and mime, a fable told about sheep and lions—and the evening ended with a beautiful, crystalline whisper of pure theatricality.

What you get is a visual and sonic tone poem that, if you'll allow it, will wash over you and embrace you in the humanity MacIvor proposes in his text.

This Humans is not precisely dance nor movement, it is not just story-telling—it is actors sharing their space and tales. But I repeat: they are actors (not dancers, mimes or movement coaches) and the fact that they are participating in an artifice is recalled back to you over and over again by their varrying degrees of ableness and via a device I would be a prick if I revealed. Theatre, they tell us, is first and foremost human.

Director Liz Valdez and her choreographer Véronique Gaudreau have set huge challenges for her cast (Tamara Brown, Romy Daniel, Richard Gélinas, Jade Hassouné, Eric Hausknost, Patricia Manessy, Caitie Parsons, Mike Payette, Warona Setshwaelo and Anders Yates) and they have met them (which is why I feel I should give all their names). What you get is a visual and sonic tone poem that, if you'll allow it, will wash over you and embrace you in the humanity MacIvor proposes in his text. It's a splendid and lovely event, made more so by the simplicity of Lara Kaluza's set, Jody Burkholder's lighting and Noémi Poulin's costumes (not to mention a thrilling projection design by Kaluza and Poulin). But the cherry on the sundae is a mixture of live and recorded music by Dumisizwe Vuyo Bhembe which gently flows through the entire production.

Humans is a production which needs to be experienced, more than seen. It leaves the heart and head vibrating. Its whispers give you courage for the storm outside.

Moreover, it is productions like these which makes me outlandishly happy that I have returned to theatre.

Humans is at the Segal Centre to February 13
Running time: 75 minutes
Also read Sarah Deshaies article on the company's solutions to its fiscal woes.


  1. Wow! Thank you. I felt this whole process left me vibrating and ridiculously happy to be in theatre. I do want to add two very important people who are as much a part of this as all those you mentioned. Rebecca Harper who was integral to this whole creation and Brian Imperial our stage manager who goes above and beyond at all times. I am privileged and honored to have had this whole team ride this wave with me and journey into MacIvor's stories and this experience is what I would like to be surrounded by everyday. Talent, passionate, professional and human!

    And thanks for not being a "prick". What a wonderful review to come home to.


  2. I am now dying to go to Montreal to see it!

  3. Lis Valdez is a BRILLIANT human & artist.
    (is you are human or know any)

  4. Bravo to the entire company for coming back from the brink so powerfully! I can't wait to see it ...


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