DUOS by Anne Nenarokoff-Van Burek, directed by Guillaume Bernardi, with Karen Kenedy and Julie LeGal. Presented by Théâtre Français de Toronto and Pleiades at Artword Alternative (75 Portland). Runs to March 10, Friday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 3 pm. $22, stu $16. 416-366-7723. Rating: NNN
a fascinating shift in percep-tion happens when you watch a play in a language other than your own. You start paying attention to body language and tone in a new way.That's my experience with Duos, whose text is five French poems by Anne Nenarokoff-Van Burek. Dealing with sex roles and the socially prescribed -- and proscribed -- actions of men and women, it looks hopefully to a breaking of the moulds.
The program summarizes the texts, but director Guillaume Bernardi's spare, sharp production fills in the blanks between the words. Performers Karen Kenedy and Julie LeGal -- clad in Peter De Freitas's white costumes with words stitched on them, and looking like a cross between medieval nuns and futuristic society women -- trace out the cycle of male and female roles.
At times they seem each other's alter egos, at times mother and daughter, as they move between diligent instruction and playfulness.
The movements are always intriguing in Sharon Reid's suggestive lighting, and they're frequently replayed in the onstage work of videographer Alexandre Oktan, who juggles freeze-frames, fanlike visuals, costume and body close-ups and eccentric portraiture to show us unexpected insights into societal conditioning.