To honor Montreal’s 375th birthday, the Just for Laughs festival and the Segal Centre have collaborated on an exciting experiment. They have brought to the stage, for the first time, the English adaptation of Le Prénom. “The Segal Centre doesn’t usually put on shows in the summer” actress Erika Rosenbaum tells me on a high after a packed performance of What’s in a name? “They wanted to see how audiences would react.”
I can tell you that I was in stitches throughout this dark comedy handled masterfully by this impressive Canadian ensemble cast, and I went alone. That didn’t stop me from bonding half-laugh several times with the candy crunching dame next to me. The Segal Centre would be smart to extend this production well past July 30th.
One gentleman was so pleased, that I watched him approach actor Matthew Gagnon to thank him for such a wonderful show. I overheard several ladies agree with one another that the show “was excellent!”
I have seen many Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. I have been to the theatre in Paris and London. This Montreal show was on par with many, if not better than some of the Hollywood star-studded shows I have paid hundreds of dollars to see. The sets and costumes were so on point, that I wanted Erika’s character Elizabeth’s pants (is that weird?), and to move into her gorgeous plateau loft. Seriously, I need those book shelves! I would also like to have tasted the Moroccan food she served, it looked so savory.
The story is my all-time favorite for a comedy. A group of friends get together for a “sophisticated” dinner party, and all hell breaks lose. As each character gets deeper into the alcohol, they reveal their dirtiest and darkest parts, much to the amusement of the audience.
As one couple reveals a scandalous name for their impeding child, much to the horror of the other couple, a seemingly Switzerland-neutral friend watches the emotionally charged verbal tornado swirl around him.
Andrew Shaver plays Vincent, the play’s narrator, who is facing fatherhood for the first time. His reactions are so funny, and his charisma so strong, that his performance is deliciously perfect for the macho yet insecure Vincent. We are reminded what a great casting job director Jennifer Tarver has done. “Jennifer’s blocking is so good, it’s almost mathematical” according to Erika.
Indeed, at one-point Elizabeth spins out of control and moves about the stage like a bee whirling randomly from flower to flower. Her ultimate breakdown is so much fun to watch that her final words are like a battle cry for all the women in the audience and cause quite the uproar.
Meanwhile, the intellectual professor of the group, who you just want to deck at one point for being so holier than thou, is played so convincingly by Pat Kiely, that when I met him briefly after the show, I was stunned by his down to earth nature. In real life, Pat is a film director whose latest feature Someone Else’s Wedding stars Kathleen Turner and Jessica Paré, yet another reminder of the level of talent on display.
We can’t forget the gorgeous diva herself Anna, the smoking and secretive mother-to-be, played beautifully by Amanda Lisman. Her resumé is also impressive including a long list of theatre, awards, and television appearances including Suits. No wonder she looked so familiar!
You know, everyone says what an incredible city Montreal is because of the culture and restaurants. Well, get out there and taste this juicy morsel of Canadian talent and culture at its finest before it closes July 30th! What is better than a night out where ultimately, you find yourself laughing nonstop at fellow imperfect humans, who not only remind you of your friends, but that complex person you see in the mirror everyday?
Get your tickets at the Segal Centre or here.