DePFLIES 3… MOÉ PIS TOÉ (Me and You)
By Byron Toben
Episode 3 of Alain Mercieca's “farcical satire” vehicle depicting various themes as portrayed by the hangers-on of a dépanneur in an economically depressed Montreal area has arrived. In reviewing episode one (notions of family), I dubbed Mercieca “the Chekhov of St. Henri” with moments of Seinfeld. I am gratified to see that that reference now highlights the postcard flyer for the current show.
Some friends have queried why the Chekhovian reference? I suppose the main reason is the non-judgmental depiction of the characters. With all their foibles, a certain humanity persists. Also, Chekhov's own feeling that his plays were amusing satirical farces before Stanislavski transformed them into classic works of great Art.
This third tackles freedom, property, and surveillance, with a light hand and lots of double takes and prat falls.
In any event, Mercieca seems to have a Russian sensibility. The printed program begins and ends with quotes from Turgenev. Yes, Mercieca fans, there is now a printed program which actually lists the nine actors and their 14 roles, the lack of which had previously confused reviewers and some mere viewers of this bilingual series.
The second episode had dealt with manhood and femininity. This third tackles freedom, property, and surveillance, with a light hand and lots of double takes and prat falls.
The play opens with a hit song in waiting by Music Director Mark Louch called “I Can be Your Depanneur”. The usual cluttered set of the store rings true. Customers come and go, each emitting a vocal “Ding -a-ling” at the door.
Maman (Isabelle DuClos) owns the modest place where her children, half siblings Marie-Isabelle (Elizabeth Fennell) and Peter (Mercieca) work. Peter's friends Roger (Simon Chaverie) and Alex (Kim Lavack-Paquin) come and go. Peter, who fancies himself as a philosopher-poet praises dipping his Doritos in salsa to Roger, who feels that he is inadequate to discuss such higher levels of conversation.
New-comer Kandi (Heidi Lynne-Weeks) appears, a snobbish “self-hating Anglo” who entrances Peter as well as, later, Roger and especially Alex who find a self-hating Anglo to be a “hot” attribute. Nanci (Sandi Armstrong), Roger's girlfriend takes an instant dislike to Kandi (who refuses “meaningless conversation”) and a near cat-fight is narrowly averted.
Word-play occurs at certain intervals, for instance when Peter is “Forbidden” by his friends to have a continued relationship with Kandi. FOR bidden? For BIDDEN? All with great shows of teeth.
Through all this, the dep is robbed by a stocking-masked couple who leave their baby in a carriage outside the Ding-a-ling door while waving pistols inside. This event triggers installations of surveillance systems, stalking, baby theft, demo-riots with red patches and much else. Zoe (Lise Vigneault) reprises as the philosophical yet down to earth anarchist/rebel.
The ensemble is most obviously having fun and this shines through the scripted text so one feels one is watching a long improv sketch comedy.
DePFLIES (Moé Pis Toé) plays at Theatre Ste-Catherine only until April 7. 514-284-3939