Tuesday, 14 March 2017

C'est La Vie - Theatre Review

What: C'est La Vie
When: 13 - 17 March 2017
Where: The Owl and Cat Theatre
Written by: Stephanie Silver
Directed by: Thomas Ian Doyle
Performed by: Andy Aisbett, Carolyn Dawes, Jakob Duniec, Gabrielle Savrone, Katie Ann Stirk, and Indiana Tali

Gabrielle Savrone and Katie Ann Stirk
C'est La Vie (or Such Is Life) is the new world premier which has opened this week at The Owl and Cat Theatre in Richmond. It is a very short season, closing on Friday, so don't wait because if you blink you will miss it and that would be a great shame. The team have put in a massive effort to get this show up in only two weeks (because of some very unfortunate events) and to be honest, it is as good - if not better - than many shows which have twice as long and five times the resources.

C'est La Vie, written by Silver, is a play which weaves between six people who become intertangled in each others lives. There is some commentary on a mythical dissolution of Medicare and it's ramifications but really that topic is irrelevant to the real story being told and is almost an irritating political affect rather than a morality position.

Essentially this play is about human interaction and human interconnection. A play presented in two acts, the first act introduces the characters and demonstrates a series of relationships where physical closeness and sex is essentially a mask for emotional connection. Not necessarily an original concept but very keenly observed and cleverly written. Silver weaves between time and space with the same intricacy as the characters weave their relationships.

There is a longing which sits underneath the idea of 'such is life' and these six characters, intricately portrayed by the actors, demonstrate this longing as they flitter through the story montage. Whilst Silver does not waste time setting the scene or explaining her characters, her writing is incredibly evocative. Susie's (Tali) lines in particular sprang out at me as she comments that 'love is your guts ripped out'. Maxine (Savrone) also talks about life being an act of 'self-hurt in the pursuit of love'.

As I mentioned earlier, this play jumps around time lines and locations like nothing I have seen before and with some of the shortest scenes I have seen written. I spent the night being completely amazed that I was never lost or confused about when or where we were and all the credit for this has to go to Doyle (Director).

Doyle understands the need to trust the playwright in this complicated spectacle so he doesn't try to do too much, but also does just enough to help us through. His transitions are brilliant with nary a blackout to be seen! Doyle has cleverly used lighting and cast ghosting to help the audience and help the actors wend our way through this adventure. Perhaps my one comment is that by the second act I was looking for a slight change of pace but in the end I decided I didn't need it because Doyle has an arsenal of performance making techniques which kept things alive and intriguing.

C'est La Vie is a play which offers no magic cures or easy answers. Perhaps the best advice it can offer is when Maxine talks about love being the glue which holds relationships together as they start to shatter. Once you fall into a real closeness - or love - in the fairytales everyone lives happily ever after. In the real world things keep going and wheels fall off carts, and logs fall across the road, but such is life...

The performances are all very strong and I would love to see this play remounted. I think if the cast were given more time there are a million more layers to these characters and stories which could delight us even more. Regardless C'est La Vie is a great show with a polish and sophistication which is indicative of the professionalism and talent The Owl and Cat team have developed over the last couple of years.

4 Stars

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