Everybody’s Welles

After the premiere night of Everybody's Welles at the Leanor and Alvin Segal theatre Bryna Wasserman, the artistic director of the theatre, told those gathered a story of how she was approached by the creators of this play and offered the staging of it as a gift that it took her all of 5 seconds to say 'yes' to them. Wasserman was correct in her statement that gifts of this sort do not come along all that often. When I first read that Patrice Dubois and Martin Labrecque were going to tackle the subject of larger-than-life actor/magician/film director Orson Welles to be completely honest I was doubtful. How could you bring to the stage in a one-man show the entire scope of what this giant has meant to the film industry? It seemed to me a large undertaking to say the least. Well, Labrecque and especially Dubois demonstrated to me that they are definitely up to the challenge. This one-man show, with Patrice Dubois as the one-man, is done in such an innovative and passionate way, with the aid of some creative multi-media usage (the lighting done by Martin Labrecque in this play is second to none) that it has to be classified as a success.

Everybody's Welles is not a biographical play about Orson Welles rather it is, as the co-creators themselves have dubbed it, 'documentary' theatre. It is a format where drama and fact meet blur the edges of reality to create an homage of the legend. Dubois portrays a mild-mannered (except when he discusses Welles) Quebecois film academic who is giving a talk about his dissertation on Welles.

Where Welles ends and the lecturer begins becomes more and more unclear as the play goes on. Welles' struggles for identity is meshed in with the lecturers own struggles with his place in the world. Both men seem to have problems with their relationships with their fathers and his examinations of Welles' work forces the lecturer to face his issues with his own father. The object of the play, which would have made Welles himself proud, is to use it as an exploration of the relationship between actor and audience and ultimately reveal the complexities of human nature itself.

The timeline of Orson Welles' life (1915-1985) is used by Dubois and Labrecque in order to give the audience a window into what was happening politically and culturally in the United States during those years. Using some of Welles' major productions, such as, The War of the Worlds and Citizen Kane, as a backdrop, Dubois shows his incredible range by not acting, but metamorphasizing into the different characters he uses to tell Welles' story. The play shows us how versatile of an artist that Orson Welles was. He was a magician, a painter, a director, an actor, and a radio broadcaster. This range seems to have really inspired Dubois and he attempts to duplicate Welles' range onstage. Another related and very Wellesian aspect to the play is that it is a one-man production. The fact that Dubois has to portray all the different characters, including Welles himself, is a replication of Welles' working style as he generally was involved in all aspects of the making of his films.

Besides all the above reasons, Everybody's Welles is also an important work because it is the first time it is being presented in English. It was originally done in French and was named Best Montreal Production of 2005 by the Académie Québécoise du Théâtre. This production and Cheech, which is playing at The Centaur for the first time in English, show an exciting trend that is now happening in Montreal of the two languages producing plays that all can enjoy. It is an example of the uniting of the two languages/cultures which will benefit everyone.

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