because the personal is cultural
“I am shackled by truth and beauty,” wrote poet Richard Loranger. It’s a sentence that struck actress Céline Bonnier and dancer/musician Clara Furey. It served as inspiration for their show Hello… How Are You?, currently at La Chapelle. Unfortunately though, Hello offers little of either.
In the few instances when it does work, it is specifically because it achieves a certain realness or truth, usually in spite of itself. First, they have decided to change the seating around so that the audience is facing the café-bar and the dressing rooms. So, when the two performers run from one to the other, the sound of their high heels echoes through the theatre.
Second, Bonnier delivers a monologue taken from Pierre Maheu’s Le Bonhomme… which is a documentary. As reality television has now proven, the shit that comes out of ordinary people’s mouths is infinitely more creative than anything even the most imaginative writer could possibly come up with. In other words, people are a lot more unpredictable and fucked up than we can ever imagine. If Réjean Ducharme had written this monologue, we’d call him a genius. But, no… It was just a drunk woman in Saint-Henri going off on an unscripted rant.
Third, Furey swiftly spins her head around over an aquarium. More than any other, this scene reveals Hello’s main problem: the disjunction between where it wants to work and where it actually does. As is always the case, Furey gives it her all onstage. And yet the effect of her performance on the audience is underwhelming. However, what does grab the attention is that her long dark hair hits the light in the process: light, dark, light, dark, light, dark… We need to cling on to these few short moments, a bit of everyday poetry in the middle of so much crassness.
Fourth, the two of them put on nail polish and wave their hands back and forth so it dries faster. This simple movement is probably the most interesting in the entire show. I would have preferred to watch them do this for a full hour. At least, it would have shown dedication, clarity, commitment, and restraint. None of these qualities are to be found here.
Last, Furey throws dark clay at Bonnier. It hits her and covers the wall behind her. Again, this is not what is actually of interest here. Something good finally comes from it when Bonnier moves away and, on the wall behind her, leaves a white paper silhouette surrounded by clay. It reminds me of environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy, who sometimes likes to lie down on the pavement when it starts to rain, and then stand up to reveal the silhouette left behind by his body but for a few seconds, before the rain swallows it too. Now there’s an artist with a clear concept.
The performers list a bunch of “eyes” that advised them, but the ones they could have used are Nicolas Cantin’s. He knows how to get a lot out of little, as opposed to a little out of a lot. But, if you’re not going to put a good show together, at least you can always take your clothes off. It sells tickets.
Hello… How Are you?
October 11-15 at 8pm; October 15 at 3pm
Théâtre La Chapelle
Tickets: 33$ / Students: 28$
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com