Miles Davis and Jean Cocteau cohabitate in the creative imagination of Robert Lepage in this brilliant production presented by Canadian Stage. Innovative, breathtaking, cinematic, extraordinary.
Sleight of hand, sleight of foot, sleight of body – the set a character unto itself begging the actors to defy gravity at every turn, keeping the audience in a swirl of intersecting stories:
a Québécois actor post break up in a hotel room in Paris, Jean Cocteau’s avant-garde opium induced ramblings, Miles Davis first trip to Paris; his haunting soundtrack to Ascenseur pour L’echafaud and his own battle with heroin.
then there’s the set: a dynamic open cube pivoting in a finely choreographed dance with the performers – now a busy street, a lonely hotel room, a sound studio, a trip through space…all brought about through stunning projections, light and shadow, trap doors, intricately timed rigging, a chair, a bed, a bathtub, a telephone. could the actor’s desperate phone calls be reminiscent of Cocteau’s la Voix humaine?
and of course there’s Lepage’s amazing sense of time. the actor’s unending desperate sleepless night punctuated by the sounds of a couple having sex next door. will this ever end? the actor on the verge of despair in the sound studio needing to repeat and repeat from the beginning. can’t we just punch in? Cocteau’s monologues, Miles slowly putting his horn together, and later his heroin needle all projected in shadow. Once in a while I had a moment to marvel at the audacious pace and timing of one scene before becoming immersed in the next one.
Lepage’s genius is apparent in every moment of this incredible masterpiece. from the opening credits (opening credits in theatre?) to the closing image of shooting stars, Lepage’s attention to breathtaking visuals, gorgeous music and intricate details remind us that this is the essence of great art: a transcendent voyage of creative discovery.
Bravo to Marc Labreche & Wellesley Robertson III for their fantastic performances.
The play is being shown in Toronto for a limited run. It closes on Dec 1. If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket, grab it over here!