Centaur concludes 49th season – The Centaur Theatre is lowering the curtain on its 49th season with the remounting of Michel Tremblay’s play Hosanna, produced by the Tableau d’Hote Theatre company, in which its 2015 run at the MainLine Theatre was the talk of the English Montreal theatre scene and won several METAs Awards that year.
And after watching “Hosanna”, I can see why this play – written nearly 50 years ago – is seen as so revolutionary and ahead of its time, especially when it came to its then-taboo subject matter, life in Montreal’s gay community, especially its trans sexuals.
The play takes place in a dingy apartment overlooking the Main during the early 70s. It’s late at night, and Hosanna (played to perfection by Eloi ArchamBaudoin) is returning home from a club performance. He is seen dressed up in the character he loves to emulate, Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra (circa 1963). As he gradually sheds his costume and make-up, Hosanna engages in a hostile, sarcastic back and forth with his live-in lover, the leather-clad Cuirette (Davide Chiazzese, who shined in the Centaur’s previous production, “Successions”). The repartee becomes even more fierce when they deal with the subject of their personal identities as gay men in a society where being gay was still not so readily acceptable. And when Cuirette storms out of the apartment to attend an after hours party, Hosanna then engages in a revelatory monologue about the difficult choices he had to make throughout his life, and his quest for true self-identity.
Like peeling the layers away from an onion, Hosanna takes the audience on a difficult journey about his life on the fringes of a not-so accepting society (which reminded me of Scott Thompson’s many monologues he performed as gay club owner Buddy Cole that he did on “The Kids in the Hall”, but without the laughs). The end result is a simple, yet powerful discovery to the core of who and what Hosanna really is.
“Hosanna” is a compelling, captivating look at an individual who has made some difficult choices regarding his lifestyle and identity, and how he has come to terms with them at a time when making such choices were not really the norm. It’s playing at the Centaur until June 10, and is a vivid example to why Michel Tremblay is probably one of the most important writers to emerge from the contemporary Quebec literary scene.
Feature image: Hosanna Eloi Archam Baudoinand Davide Chiazzese photo Andrée Lanthier