Tapestry Briefs: Les shorts qui chantent opened last night at the Alliance Française. It’s a twist on the traditional Tapestry Briefs show. This time it’s bilingual with the twelve sketches emanating from a bilingual LibLab held in Toronto in conjunction with Opéra de Montréal and Musique Trois Femmes. The short scenes are directed by Tim Albery and make really interesting use of video projections in the very Intimate theatre at the AF.
The standard is very high. I don’t think there is a single scene that is without merit and the best are very good indeed so I guess all I can sensibly do is pick some personal favourites (in no particular order). Three Little Bears by Joseph Glaser and Maria Reva was both funny and creepy. The bears (Ellen Wieser, Kristen Hoff, Marcel d’Entremont) are joined at the hip and make a sort of strange progression from the back of the room to the stage singing all the while in a sort of stuttery way about how they’ve eaten our family, our exes and various other bugbears. Le Phare (Laurence Jobidon and Maria Reva) has Bruno Roy as a lonely lighthouse neglecting his duty to lure boats (Ellen Wieser and Marcel d’Entremont) to their doom.
Voo Djana Lang Bring (Laurence Jobidon and Matthew Jocelyn) features Ellen Wieser, Kristen Hoff and Bruno Roy having an impassioned argument over drinks on a lakeside patio but we have no idea what it’s about as it’s all in a made up language. It’s very clever and well done. Zero Language Zone (Adam Scime and Nathalie Boisvert) deals with the dilemma of coming back from the US to Montreal with half forgotten French and a monolingual child. It’s in that weird mix of English and very colloquial French that you maybe have to have spent time in Montreal or east end Ottawa to get. But it’s spot on and very funny.
There were some pretty creepy pieces too. In A Siren (Adam Scime, Matthew Jocelyn) Ellen Wieser plays a woman in an apocalyptic landscape haunted by the voice of the child she will never have (Kristen Hoff). And in Le Dictateur et l’Enfant (Romain Camiolo, Nathalie Boisvert) a feral child (Marcel d’Entremont) traps a former dictator (Bruno Roy), currently on the run, but decides he’s not good to eat.
The music is varied (as you might expect from four different composers!) and involves all kinds of interesting effects stretching the technique of Carol-Anne Fraser at the piano and placing varying demands, all met well, on the singers.
I’m not sure that I can quite see any of these scenes becoming the seed for a full length opera but who knows. In any event it’s a fun ninety minutes with drama, humour and some grimness. You can catch it tonight at 7.30pm or Saturday and Sunday at 2,30pm at the Alliance Française on Spadina Road.
Photo credits:P Dahlia Katz
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