Never presented at the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Quebec playwright Larry Tremblay makes his debut with one of his most dizzying and astonishing plays, Abraham Lincoln goes to the theater.
Posted at 4:00 p.m.
Summarizing the plot of this astonishing text created for the first time on stage in 2008 is a tour de force. Let’s try it anyway: two actors from detective series are hired by a tyrannical director, Marc Killman, to recreate in the manner of Laurel and Hardy the assassination of the American president Abraham Lincoln – the latter was shot in his dressing room by the actor John Wilkes Booth in a Washington theater in 1865.
Only here it is: none of the protagonists of this labyrinthine play is really who we believe. When the masks fall, it is to reveal new ones which will fall in turn.
As in those palaces of mirrors where distorting mirrors endlessly reflect the image of those who dare to venture there, Larry Tremblay’s piece pushes the principle of mise en abyme to an extreme degree.
The layers are constantly superimposed, forcing the viewer to drop his certainties and let go to accept to let himself be guided. Without resisting. Because anyone looking for a chronological and linear story to cling to will quickly be swallowed up by this devil of a room where Larry Tremblay plays the magician. From his hat, he does not come out of rabbits or doves, but a completely delirious representation of this schizophrenic America which is ours. Where does the truth hide when the imitator steals the show from the imitated? Who to believe when disinformation is raging and everyone believes they hold the only valid keys to understanding our world in the midst of an identity crisis?
To carry this text made up of asides, winks at the public and replies that fuse at high speed, the director Catherine Vidal called on four performers in very good shape. Luc Bourgeois and Mani Soleymanlou (unrecognizable) are brilliant in the roles of fake Laurel and Hardy. Their complicity, this astonishing way they have of complementing each other, but above all their talent for endorsing physical humor – and very slap stick – which enamels the room… everything in their interpretation is high-flying.
Bruno Marcil and Didier Lucien are also very solid, the first in the role of the undrinkable director Marc Killman and the second in the role of a jealous actor who will become a second tormentor for our poor Laurel and Hardy.
For his second appearance at the TNM after The idiot, the director Catherine Vidal has chosen to play the humorous card to the fullest, in particular with projections in the background that show the actors in costumes and poses that could not be more ridiculous. The idea is brilliant and adds just the right amount of oil to this comic tragedy. Without the many bursts of laughter shared, the spectators would have spent an otherwise arid evening facing this sometimes confusing text, with its structure in Russian dolls and its perpetual disguises of the truth (or of the lie, who knows?).
America is in bad shape, we know that. For one night, maybe it’s better to laugh.
Abraham Lincoln goes to the theater
Text by Larry Tremblay, direction by Catherine Vidal. With Luc Bourgeois, Mani Soleymanlou, Bruno Marcil and Didier Lucien.
At the New World TheaterUntil April 8