AU "COUNTRY ROAD", by Marie-Josée Lefebvre, directed by Sanjay Talwar, with Louise Gauthier, Lefebvre and Tony Nappo. Presented by Theatre Tojo at the Factory Studio. Aug 5 at 5 pm, Aug 6 at 11 pm, August 8 and 13 at 8 pm Rating: NNNNN
Don't be thrown by the name of Theatre Tojo's latest, Au "Country Road". That franglais title goes to the heart of Marie-Josée Lefebvre's script, set largely in a Timmins country-music bar whose inhabitants jump from English to French in mid-sentence and back again.
"I think all French people in Toronto understand English, so I'm making sure that English audiences can understand the play," says the effervescent Lefebvre, whose previous scripts include Rendez-Vous Tournesol and Calice De Femmes, the latter written with Louise Nolan.
The northern Ontario setting --Timmins is the hometown of Shania Twain, a major offstage presence in the show -- defines the piece's spirit as well as its dialogue style.
Born in Ottawa, Lefebvre spent summers with cousins in Timmins, where their everyday speech was "French soaked in English."
"The politics about speaking French in Quebec or even Toronto don't exist," adds Lefebvre, who has performed locally in The Two Noble Kinsmen, Oui, The Death Of General Wolfe and SubUrbia.
"Up north, the two languages are just messed together. And the Timmins culture is so comfortable for me, like putting on an old pair of slippers."
All three characters in Au "Country Road" come to terms with their unfulfilled dreams. Friends Sophie and Darlene, who went to school with Twain, envy the singer's fame. Sophie's partner Ronnie has his own fame fantasies involving a bear-safe suit.
"So many people long for an impossible success, strive to go bigger and forget that they're doing great work right now. And at what point in our lives, I wonder, do all those dreams become pathetic?"