BONBONS ASSORTIS by Michel Tremblay, directed by Guy Mignault (Théétre français de Toronto). At Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley). To November 4. $23-$46. 416-534-6604. See Continuing, page 102. Rating: NN Rating: NN
At its best, bonbons assortis, a set of three vignettes based on writer Michel Tremblay 's Quebec childhood, is sweet, but it often feels too syrupy.
The play begins with a grown-up Tremblay ( Sébastien Bertrand ) reflecting on perceptions of memory, and then entering the scene as his six-year-old self.
Bertrand's child Tremblay quickly becomes awkward and tiresome to watch a grown-up using childish mannerisms to play a kid.
In the first vignette, the women in his poor family fret over finding a gift for an upcoming wedding. In the second and weakest one, a thunderstorm scares the women but bonds Michel and his father.
The Tremblays celebrate Christmas in the final scene, and as they decorate the tree, the brightest lights of this production shine.
Lina Blais 's Aunt Albertine (familiar from Tremblay's other plays) is both wonderfully silly and poignantly distressed as the Christmas Fairy, while the boisterous Josaphat-le-violon ( Guy Mignault , who also directs) breaks the monotony of nattering characters who never feel like a real family.
Using Glen Charles Landry 's puzzling set, Mignault often crams the actors onto just half the stage, leaving much of the already cramped space unused.
Despite their proximity, the characters struggle to connect emotionally and physically, crowding out the heart and humour that embody Tremblay's best plays.