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The Rover: Turkey Winner Provides Gravy
17 June 2011
Andre Simoneau is officially Montreal’s worst playwright. Wait, wait, wait; before you go scratching his name off your shows-to-see list, let me just mention that he took the title at this year’s Dramaturkey awards for deliberately concocted theatrical stinkers.
It takes stamina to write a really bad play, and luckily he didn’t have it in him to repeat the trick this time around. True, Remember Ezra is pretty ragged around the edges, and it could do with pulling into the pitstop for some ruthless re-tuning. But what it does have is a raft of interesting ideas and lots of bold theatrical moves which mark Simoneau as a playwright to keep an eye on.
Played amongst a web of taut threads that recall those ballistic trajectories you see in cop-show crime scenes, it centres on a twisted relationship between two film-making brothers. One of them is the nice if blankly insipid Gideon, the other the sociopathic and misanthropic Ezra, whose recent disappearance doesn’t prevent him from goading his brother into facing his demons and becoming a more assertive, if not better, person.
Simoneau name-checks David Lynch at one point, and there’s something recognisably Lynchian in the way he takes on the themes of merging personalities and slippery identities. It also sometimes plays out – consciously, it seems –like a ripe old Hollywood psychodrama, with “cheesy lines” (as one character admits) being flung about with abandon.
As well as writing the play, Simoneau also directs, and takes the the part of the detective assigned to Ezra’s case. Inevitably, he’s stretched himself too thinly to get the best from his cast. Ezra seems, on paper, like a memorable dramatic creation, all twitchy paranoia and malignant wit. But Daniel Rowe isn’t there yet. He needs to be pushed into going the whole hog that the part needs to work, though a punter’s post-show comparison of him to “a young John Malkovich” nails his oddly appealing style.
Remember Ezra continues at MainLine Theatre (3997 St-Laurent) through Sunday, June 19. For details, go to the Fringe Festival site.