When it comes to the shows I have seen in the past, I always found it interesting how a profound piece of theatre can turn into a love affair between the performance and the audience. Having gone to see Soulpepper’s production of Yours Forever, Marie-Lou (written by Michel Tremblay), not only did I see an incredible piece of theatre, but I’d also go so far as to say that I was placed directly in the living room of this decayed family setting. The sense of universal warmth found in the traditional nuclear family seemed to show a slow decay in the portrait of lingering ghosts and demons alike.
My first impression was definitely one of intrigue as I walked into one of the smaller spaces at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts to find a stage scattered with junkyard props. From this moment on, I knew that levels, in terms of staging, would be put to good use, as two disheveled car seats sat upstage opposite of each other. They were elevated, leaving the rest of the set pieces secure at stage level.
As the show began, the house went dark and stage lights came up, revealing four characters who immediately resembled very strong familial archetypes. Even though the dialogue at the beginning might have been a bit rough around the edges in terms of pacing, it felt as though the rest of the performance compensated for that hiccup, leaving me inevitably wanting more.
The dynamic between the two sisters, Manon and Carmen (played by Geneviève Dufour and Suzanne Roberts Smith), definitely resonated with me. Filling the room with tension, the parallels in dialogue between them and their parents were definitely evident and flowed with the well-blocked scenes.
The actor who caught my attention and retained it until the very end was Christian Laurin, who portrayed the character of Léopold, the entitled blue-collar working man. Laurin’s presence as the patriarchal figure drove much of the conflict throughout the performance. His aged torture and sense of moral disintegration made him a strong anchor that weighed down the rest of the family, which was expressed through a very rugged and worn-out statue on stage, whose need for peace of mind is overwhelmed by the demons of his past mistakes.
All in all, I’d say that Yours Forever, Marie-Lou was successful in bringing a Tremblay classic to life, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to see a captivating piece of theatre this season.
Directed by Diana LeBlanc, Yours Forever, Marie-Lou runs at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until Oct. 17. For more information visit soulpepper.ca.