The Belfry proves theatre can change lives with the English language premiere of And Slowly Beauty… by Michael Nadeau (translated by Maureen Labonte).
It begins with Mr. Mann (played with a gentle confidence by Dennis Fitzgerald). He’s a hardworking loyal husband, father and employee who goes through the motions everyday, putting on the same suit, the same tie, the same motivational speech as if there’s not much more to life than paying your dues to The Man.
Then one day it all changes. Mr. Mann wins tickets to the theatre and takes the chance to do something different — after all his realtor wife and two adult children are busy with lives of their own, and he’s tired of spending endless hours alone in front of the television, just going through the motions.
The play within the play, Three Sisters by Anton Chekov, changes his life forever. He begins rethinking and reflecting on his every decision, leaving him wondering about the meaning of life and what decisions he’d make if he could do it all again (read: midlife crisis). The themes of Chekov’s classic meander through the play as the characters search for meaning in this modern world.
The set, with its clean simple lines, is amazingly adaptable, changing from a bedroom to a kitchen (with a working fridge hidden in plain sight), to an office building, a café and even a theatre with only the incredibly fluid movement of a few simple props.
The five supporting cast members (all members of the National Arts Centre English Theatre Acting Company, including local actress, Celine Stubel), move seamlessly from one scene and from one character to another with amazing versatility, each masterfully playing multiple rolls.
Mann goes back to see the play over and over, even buying a copy of the script and uncharacteristically playing hooky to enjoy it at his favourite café.
All the while, life is swirling around him, days pass and people rush past him on the street to the staccato beat of the amazing score by Brooke Maxwell.
And Slowly Beauty… reminds us to take a closer look at the delicacy and grace that every day holds. It made me want to appreciate the unique snowflake that I am and fly away like the geese — even if I don’t know the destination. It made me want to play hooky from work and sit reading my favourite play in my favourite coffee shop, and flirt with my favourite server.
It made me want to take a closer look at the seemingly unimportant things in life and to note the details that make them so special and find a way to simply be happy. M
And Slowly Beauty…
The Belfry Theatre (1291 Gladstone)
Until Oct. 23
Tickets $23 to $38 at 250-385-6815 or email@example.com