In the words of Peter Peter, “yes, I saw it, it’s a great comedy.” Comic strip fans in general and those of Samuel Cantin in particular will be delighted to find the absurd humor of Whitehorse on stage, in an inventive production by Simon Lacroix.
Even if when reading this comic book released in 2015 by Pow Pow editions, we could guess the potential for transposition to the stage (or to the cinema), the danger is always great when we leave the comfort of our hut… Especially when it is absurd humor. Think of Fabcaro’s film adaptation of Zaï zaï zaï zaï, played so “big”.
In the theater, this excess or this histrionics goes better, but you still have to find a fair balance to avoid falling into the trap of farce or excessive caricature that makes you roll your eyes.
This is what the Whitehorse creative team managed to do. Firstly thanks to the adaptation signed by Samuel Cantin himself, with the help of Sébastien Tessier, which contains several current references – TV shows, advertisements, etc. Then, by entrusting the direction to Simon Lacroix, who knew how to direct the actors accurately to the border of what is plausible.
The play centers on the character of Sylvain Pastrami (hilarious Guillaume Laurin), a narcissistic filmmaker with a certain charisma, but also a notorious libidinous man, who attracts a court of admirers to him, no doubt out of interest, but nonetheless ready for any baseness to land a role in his next film, which he plans to shoot in Whitehorse. Without forgetting his assistant (priceless Éric Bernier).
In her wake, we find Laura (very good Charlotte Aubin) an actress who auditions for the main role in this mockumentary, where caribou are threatened with extinction by the arrival of a pharmaceutical company (!). Pastrami will not hesitate to make advances towards her, despite the fact that Laura is in a relationship with Henri (Sébastien Tessier, pitiful as hell), a failed author who is hyper controlling and jealous, who cannot stand knowing she is far from him and above all not with Pastrami.
Here, we want to tell you: any resemblance with existing or former facts and characters would be purely fortuitous and could only be the result of pure coincidence. In any case, on Wednesday evening, during the premiere, many members of the UDA were present and there was a lot of laughter. This is because the description that Cantin gives of the artistic environment is quite accurate, despite the magnifying glass of the situations that are played out there.
Sonia Cordeau, who plays the role of Nathalie, Laura’s best friend, who is also auditioning for a role in Pastrami’s film, deserves a mention in her own right. Discouraged by her setbacks, this unemployed actress whose recent achievement is having filmed a kombucha commercial decides to teach physical theater (by video).
She will be contacted by a child actor (Oscar Desgagnés, very distracting), also initially refused by Pastrami, to confront the eccentric director.
We haven’t even told you about Dr. Von Strudel (spectacular Frédérike Bédard) and her evil parrot, whom Henri consults following violent convulsions and who diagnoses him with a horrible illness: turtle syndrome. A condition that causes his right leg to shrink, while his left lengthens. Same for the arms. Not to mention the neck, which fits into the abdomen, and the inversion of the knees and elbows, which means that he will walk backwards…
Torn between the stifling love of her boyfriend and the boorish ways of this megalonarcissistic director, poor Laura will no longer know where to turn.
A word all the same on the setting of this comic comedy, where the changes of scenery are done in a very playful way. For example, we go from the apartment of Nathalie and her boyfriend (Vincent Kim, very good) to the park with a simple snap of the fingers. In another scene, Laura takes an Uber, jumping into the arms of a colleague who is wearing a t-shirt that says UBER. Without forgetting these little nods to the comic. For example, the champagne bottle is a cardboard illustration. We love.
Is it the current dark sociopolitical climate that pushed us to laugh so much during this spectacle of almost juvenile absurdity? It’s possible. The fact remains that there are too few (good) comedies on our stages. Hopefully the success of this piece (which we predict) will encourage other creators to enter the arena, with intelligence and a lot of seriousness.