Staged at the intimate Mimi Herrndorf Studio Theatre at The Citadel, Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie introduces audiences to a masterfully staged chamber opera retelling of the classic novel À Rebours with their production of Against Nature.
Opening with the lone baritone Alexander Dobson downstage centre, as the ambiguous aristocratic everyman, The Master, we are introduced to the naïve young man who lived through the art that he collected. Though at first it seems as though he is slightly out of tune with the musicians on stage, it becomes clear as the story progresses, that the overall aesthetic of the score does, in fact, embrace a sense of dissonance.
The chamber-like ensemble, made up of only a cellist (Carina Reeves), a violinist (Parmela Attariwala) and a pianist (Steven Philcox), provides the show with a very visceral ensemble, expressing both content and disconnect by embracing the intimate environment rather than simply working with limitations.
The piano, at times, offers a more delicate accompaniment to what is otherwise a more dissonant relationship between the cello and the violin, helping express the sense of detachment our main character has with himself as he becomes more fixated on the stimulation of the outside world.
In addition to the incredibly affective trio of musicians, Alexander Dobson is joined on stage by two dancers, Laurence Lemieux and Geoffrey Sirett, as they, in addition to the interchanging picture frame upstage centre, aid in creating a manifestation of The Master's story. This is achieved through both movement and the occasional gloom-filled baritone of Sirett's singing voice, while the picture frame provides an assortment of both abstract colours and classical paintings to compliment The Master's infatuation with art.
Though seats are limited due to the intimate setting of the performance, it would be a shame to miss out on this adaptation of the classic novel. The isolated space provides for a close, yet necessary, relationship between performer and audience, forcing us into the personal boundaries of the human soul.
Directed and choreographed by James Kudelka, Against Nature is part of Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie’s Bright Nights performing arts series. It is playing at The Citadel until May 15. For more information, visit http://colemanlemieux.com/portfolio/againstnature/.