HOSANNA by Michel Tremblay, directed by John Van Burek (Pleiades Theatre). At the Young Centre for the Performing Arts (55 Mill). To October 28. $18-$35. 416-866-8666. See Continuing, page 72. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
How often do we get the chance to relive a profound moment in our own lives?
With Pleiades Theatre's remount of Michel Tremblay's stunning Hosanna, John Van Burek - the play's original English translator along with the late Bill Glassco - now directs the script he knows so well. Hosanna still shines like the 69-carat Cartier diamond Richard Burton gave to Elizabeth Taylor in 1969.
The story begins with flamboyant transvestite Hosanna returning to a dilapidated apartment dressed in a homemade Liz Taylor-as-Cleopatra costume.
Seething with rage about something that happened earlier, Hosanna berates herself until Cuirette, her lover, who had a hand the evening's incident, bursts in drunk. Throughout the play they try to confront their fears and move beyond scorn and fury.
Originally performed in Quebec in 1973, the play was not just about a gay relationship, but was also a political comment on Quebec's troubled society.
The volatile and complex relationship between the two characters still resonates today, with Quebec and all of Canada still struggling with problems of identity.
Van Burek's direction keeps the play visually fluid - not easy with a script full of arguments and long monologues. Jean-Stéphane Roy's loud-mouthed Cuirette starts out yelling nearly every line and sometimes seems self-conscious, but as Cuirette's inebriation diminishes, more nuance emerges.
Salvatore Antonio fully embodies Hosanna. Whether smoking, laughing or ritualistically adjusting his underwear, Antonio's physical awareness keeps Hosanna grounded even when she's hysterical. And as Hosanna's inner Cleopatra takes her last breath, painfully stripping off her wig and makeup, Antonio evokes death and birth onstage at the same time.
It might not have worked out for Liz and Dick, but this remount proves that passion can be rekindled without losing its lust or lustre.