Our cultural fascination with rebels, outlaws and norm outliers has hardly ever seemed to cease in the last quarter century or so. But for those coming of age in the Great Depression, their anti-heroes whose exploits were closely followed by the mesmerized – not in possession of tools like social media and smartphones – were epitomized, crystallized and in fact proselytized in the form of the dastardly duo affectionately known as Bonnie and Clyde. The legendary outlaw pair kept a nation transfixed at a time of social unrest, severe economic downturn and resentment at established fat cat institutions and bogged down bureaucracy at large.
Visionary stage production prodigies Ally Brumer and Debora Friedmann, co-founders of Contact Theatre – Montreal’s cutting edge and must-see one-stop shop for thought-provoking, alternative and intentionally controversial theatre – have not so surprisingly done it again with a take on the tumultuous twosome. Following their steep involvement in last year’s runaway Montreal musical success story The Addams Family (under the umbrella of three-time Montreal English Theatre Award-nominated the West Island Theatre Association), they’ve come together again to provoke a proverbial prison riot jailbreak in this passionate and provocative portrayal of the infamous couple/crime duo of the Prohibition Era obsessed with fame, notoriety and countercultural cult status.
The magic of Ally and Debora’s genius – along with the crackerjack performances of the actors and the luminescent musical production values of the spectacle (complete with live band soundtrack, crisp choreography and stunning stage lighting) – is even more evident when contrasted with the intimate theatre setting of the fledgling Mainline Theatre on St-Laurent Boulevard. Theatergoers may actually feel part of the show at times rather than apart viewing it from afar in their seats. The conceptual goals of Contact are also astonishingly felt and experienced despite the minimal level of props and clichéd bells and whistles that often go with ambitious stage production. Bonnie and Clyde is steak-over-sizzle, bare bones excitement, back by popular demand after last spring’s brief but very notable run – a whirlwind tour-de-force of superlative performances and enthralling writing for all to enjoy. For their sophomore effort, Brumer and Friedmann have managed to outdo themselves once again.
The actors in the role of the resplendent rebels du jour – Camille Cormier Morasse as Bonnie Parker and Joel Bernstein as Clyde Barrow – pull at the cardiac senses like a cowboy would his holster in an Old West shootout; Morasse’s facial expressions alone a thing of sheer thespian brilliance (and worth the modest price of admission itself, it could be argued).
So fire up the Ford V8 and see if you can outrun the law as well by joining Bonnie and Clyde’s brief remounted journey through a dysfunctional yet passionate once-in-a-lifetime love story, replete with robbery, treachery and delicious defiance – playing at the Mainline Theatre (3997 St-Laurent, just below Duluth) – only for three days until September 8th . Visit contacttheatre.ca or call the Mainline Theatre’s box office at 514-849-FEST (3378) for more information.