Bonjour, là, bonjour - Théâtre la seizième

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Bonjour, là, bonjour | Théâtre la seizième | February 28 – March 11, 2017

Serge (Vincent Leblanc-Beaudoin) is in love with his sister. And his sister is in love with him. Out of his three other sisters, only one knows the truth about this incestuous bond. This dysfunctional family story is full of quirky characters and intense dramatic moments.

A giant heap of wooden chairs looms over centre stage. The right side of the stage is covered in floral wallpaper, and the left in a shag carpet — setting us definitively in 1970s Montréal. The outfits also help to situate us in the ’70s with high-waisted jeans, floral blouses, and cardigans.

Each of Serge’s sisters has her own problems: Lucienne (Lyne Barnabé) is bored of her Westmount life with all her dreams coming true and is having an affair with Serge’s friend (who is 20 years her junior), Denise (Annie Lefebvre) is obsessed with food and constantly worried that she’s fat, and Monica (Emilie Leclerc) pops pills to try to deal with her paranoia. Then there’s Nicole (Siona Gareau-Brennan), closest to Serge in age and closer than any sister should ever be to her brother. The three older sisters encouraged their young siblings and thought their close relationship was cute, but as they grew older sharing a bed and became less cute and more dirty family secret.  

Serge’s father (Joey Lespérance) has his own problem with sisters — he has been living with his two constantly bickering sisters (Thérèse Champagne and Leanna Brodie) for years and they’re driving him crazy. Although Serge and his father have never had a meaningful conversation (partly due to his father’s poor hearing and stubbornness), they seem to understand each other very well.  

When Serge returns home from a three-month European vacation, he is even more determined to carry on the relationship with Nicole. The time apart has only solidified their determination, much to the chagrin of Lucienne. All of these actors worked together beautifully, their dialogue and individual storylines weaving together smoothly to create a full picture of Serge’s life. While the fast moving dialogue and interlocking stories may have easily been confusing, it is easy to follow in Michel Tremblay’s intricately written script.

One of the most provocative scenes had Serge and Nicole on the kitchen table, entangled in the heat of passion. If you can forget for a moment that they are siblings, their romance seems sweet; but it’s hard to see it as anything but incestuous and wrong when remembering their relation.  

As the baby of the family, Serge had been bossed around, manipulated, used, and abused by his sisters, but after some time on his own he returns with the strength to stand up to them and finally express himself honestly. Full of familial struggles and difficult subject matter, Tremblay’s nuanced tragedy shows why he is considered a master of the form.

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