By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
There are mysteries at the heart of La Raccourcie, the 1991 two-hander by Quebec writer Jean-Rock Gaudreault that opens at L’UniThéâtre this week, in French with English surtitles.
It’s a father-son confrontation in the woods that comes with intriguing questions for the audience. Jean-Joseph has been leading a solitary, hermetic existence in the northern Quebec woods for five years. Hmmm, that’s one “why?.” And here’s another: his son Victor arrives, in shirt and tie, having scrambled through the bush for days to find him. What is he fleeing? Is it a “heart of darkness” type quest?
And here’s a third “why?”: “le raccourci” means “shortcut” in English. But La Raccourcie? It’s a river, possibly fictional, possibly mythical.
“You find out the answers,” says director Brian Dooley. “That’s what the play is for!”
For his production director Dooley has paired veteran francophone actor and former broadcaster André Roy with L’UniThéâtre’s Steve Jodoin. Roy, says Dooley, “has quite a following for his work in comedies…. This one has its funny elements, for sure, but it’s a serious relationship between a father and son — funny but not a rib-tickler…. André has been so committed! He and Steve have a great chemistry.”
In the course of the play, as Dooley describes it (with deliberate vagueness), “a young man confronts an existential choice.” And, as a parallel, not entirely welcome to either character, emerges, the son discovers that his dad did exactly that at an earlier time.
You wouldn’t call the encounter in the woods amicable, Dooley hints. “Barbed” is the word he uses. “The son is there to catch his father up; dad has a few things to learn about what he left behind when he left wife and home, all the things he’s buried…. At first the father is resentful. Slowly, persistently, the son wears him down; he’s like his dad that way.”
“There’s a real meat and potatoes feel to this,” says Dooley of the visceral encounter. “You need two actors who can wrestle!”
Written by: Jean-Rock Gaudreault
Directed by: Brian Dooley
Starring: André Roy, Steve Jodoin
Where: La Cité francophone, 8627 91 St.
Running: April 5 to 8 and 12 to 15. Note: all but the April 8 evening and the April 15 matinée performances have English subtitles