Michael Green and Denise Clarke enjoy Doing Leonard Cohen.
DOING LEONARD COHEN by Leonard Cohen, adapted and directed by Blake Brooker (One Yellow Rabbit). At the Young Centre (55 Mill). To December 13. See Continuing. Rating: NNNN
In Doing Leonard Cohen, acclaimed Calgary company One Yellow Rabbit transport us into an absurd wonderland where the poems and prose of CanLit giant Leonard Cohen spring to life.
Using only Cohen's words - lifted from some of his best-known early poems and his 1966 novel, Beautiful Losers - OYR successfully underline the Canadian bard's wicked sense of humour, surreal wit and erotic obsessions.
The first act combines more than 50 of Cohen's poems into a theatrical mashup. Michael Green's natural showmanship and skill at eliciting laughs with subtle, well-tuned facial expressions take centre stage.
In a wise move by director/adapter Blake Brooker, no attempt is made to sew a hare-brained plot together. The four actors simply recite and sketch out Cohen's verses, giving a face to the literary voice, and oftentimes creating a hilarious context for it, too.
Act two is somewhat more plot-driven; bear in mind that Cohen was wacked out on amphetamines when he wrote Beautiful Losers. With its narrator tormented by maniacal, sex-addicted mentor F (Andy Curtis), who may or may not really exist, the novel could be the Canadian precursor to Fight Club.
The troupe's inventive physicality - a mix of choreography, contortion, comedy and creativity - is on continuous display and adds an intelligent visual counterpoint to Cohen's captivating verses.