It has haunted Quebec folklore and imagination for over 250 years. La Corriveau, whose first name has been nearly erased by history, is now at the heart of a superbly conducted musical theater piece that successfully attempts to rehabilitate her.
Created by the company of the Théâtre de l’Œilouvert, the musical show La Corriveau – La soif des corbeaux dwells on the sad fate of Marie-Josephte Corriveau, hanged for having murdered her second husband, the angry Louis Dodier, in 1763. His corpse, exhibited to passers-by in a steel cage, captured the imagination of an entire people, at a time already traumatized by the conquest of New France by the British.
This news item has become a legend to scare children: La Corriveau has metamorphosed with the swelling of time into a witch as cruel as Bluebeard, having sent to death no less than seven husbands.
With exceptional creativity, the company founded by Jade Bruneau – who directs the play here and carries on her shoulders the title role of the play – and Simon Fréchette-Daoust – who plays Louis Dodier – pulls off a veritable tour de force. Because it must be said: the company does not have the means of the great productions which land on our stages carried by the winds of Broadway.
Whatever. La Corriveau – The thirst of the crows takes us with ingenuity and a lot of sincerity in a captivating story, rooted in the depths of our terroir.
One of the great merits of this resolutely feminist production is to unfold to the rhythm of original music and songs. And what songs they are! We must emphasize the quality of the words imagined by Geneviève Beaudet and Félix Léveillé, as well as that of the composition signed Audrey Thériault, in a musical arrangement by Marc-André Perron. Some pieces, notably the song with trad accents La Folle à Dodier, are little gems that remain in our minds long after the performance, a sign of their effectiveness.
Admittedly, not everything is perfect in this production: the recited texts sometimes err on the side of a certain heaviness, imposed by not always well-advised rhymes, and the choice to punctuate the story with a few anachronisms raises eyebrows (like this mobile phone that arrives in the narrative like an unwanted hair on the soup). The public would have understood – without being pointed out a bit too strongly – that hearsay from 18th century churchyards has now been replaced by malicious gossip from social media… But these are minor flats in a production of a scale that – we admit – we did not expect.
With 13 years of activity on the clock, the Théâtre de l’Œilouvert is unquestionably one of the most brilliant talents on which Quebec can count in terms of musical theatre. Let’s hope that its craftsmen have many more stories to tell us in their boxes… Moreover, the next appointment has already been set for August, with the Belmont show, inspired by the work of Diane Dufresne. .