VISITES A MONSIEUR GREEN by Jeff Baron (Théatre français de Toronto). Runs to October 30. See Theatre: Continuing for details. Rating: NNNN
As daylight dims and the hike from the streetcar to work turns into more of a hunch and scuttle, it's comforting to find a warm fuzzy like Visites &â Monsieur Green holding off the imminent gloom of another grey Toronto winter. Presented entirely in French (a surtitled performance takes place Friday, October 28), in a new translation by Michel Tremblay , the play concerns a young executive named Ross ( Louis-Olivier Mauffette ) who's obliged to pay weekly visits to the irascible and recently bereaved Mr. Green ( Albert Millaire ) after nearly flattening the old guy on a New York street.
Millaire, a pillar of Quebec theatre, plays Mr. Green's vulnerability without a moment of self-pity. While English actors might bear down on Ross's homosexuality or Green's crankiness to anchor their characters, Millaire and Mauffette forgo exterior concepts in favour of a deeper emotional reality. There's no sense of "going for" some kind of statement about male friendship or a father-son connection. It just is what it is, uncomplicated and soothing without ever being simple.
I can't imagine seeing this play in English, though it is an American play; its portrayal of age, sexual orientation and religion smacks of easy solutions the way Broadway commercial successes tend to do. Yet here, the message of tolerance, combined with understated performances, lends that message dignity as well as charm.