For the 25th anniversary of his company, Tout à trac, Hugo Bélanger’s play, Le rêveur dans son bain, finally premiered at the TNM on Thursday evening, after being postponed to 2021.
The creator invites us to travel to the land of dreams and wonders with this “feel good” show, in which Bélanger pushes the boundaries between dream and reality, imagination and humanity, theater and other disciplines. Like cinema, magic, circus, comics…
Between the lines, his work also asks a 6 million question: is creation more important than life? Without directly answering it, The Dreamer in His Bath skillfully demonstrates a universal truth: the day you stop dreaming and believing in the impossible, you start to die a little.
Inspired by the genius of seminal 20th-century artists—such as filmmaker Méliès, illusionist Robert Houdin, and cartoonist Winsor McCay; and also forgotten women artists, such as Hannah Höch and Alice Guy-Blaché — the author imagined a hermit character (brilliantly defended by Normand D’Amour) living in a cabinet of curiosities wherever you want oust him. When his son (Renaud Lacelle Bourdon, always righteous) comes to ask him to leave his home, the dreamer refuses to get out of his bathtub. Because he awaits the return of the muse who will give him the inspiration to create an ultimate masterpiece.
Hugo Bélanger offers here an exploded, playful and very colorful universe. A show that will appeal to a wide audience. However, the story remains quite banal and altogether agreed. As much when his text addresses the ethics of creation (“genius does not excuse everything”) as the conflicting father-son relationship. The dialogues then become a bit heavy, compared to the whimsical production.
Moreover, Hugo Bélanger is a solid director of actors. The entire cast excels in sparkling scenes, meticulously rehearsed, where the performers must quickly change skin.
Let’s also underline the wild mime, totally overexcited, of the very gifted Éloi Cousineau; the Octave of the fabulous Sébastien René, whose comparison with Philémon, character of the cartoonist Fred, is striking; and the bewitching muse of Cynthia Wu-Maheux.
Designer Marie Chantale Vaillancourt has created several very beautiful and colorful costumes. The magnificent decor by Jonas Veroff Bouchard is enhanced by the beautiful lighting of Luc Prairie. A remarkable work in a production which, without reinventing the wheel, solicits our capacity for wonder and our child’s heart.