C’est La Vie goes into the heart of darkness
by Émilie Charlebois
I had heard positive things about C’est La Vie Theatre and so I sat down to listen to yesterday’s “Redshift” by Ed McNamara with pretty high hopes. First, I have to agree with Rachel Zuroff that it is super enjoyable to sit down for a play in your own home. It’s more comfortable, you can have a drink, and pause the performances or rewind them if there are any interruptions. I’ve been a fan of radio plays and dramas for a while. My family is made up of avid CBC radio listeners and I remember listening to some of the plays broadcast while returning from annual fishing trips. There’s something awesome about only listening to a performance. You really zone in and the imagery is all made up in your mind. I think my appreciation may have to do with this kind of transportation, similar to that provided by books, where for a moment you are in your own little world.
As listeners, we come in after three months, Syriana has reached her breaking point and demands to know what Rufus’ deal is.
“Redshift” is a short piece of about twenty minutes made up of three parts. It starts with a monologue (delivered by [CharPo columnist] Joel Fishbane) on what love isn’t and then cuts to Rufus (Luke Powers) a damaged (both mentally and physically) war veteran and his escort Syriana (Megan Stewart). After the brief scene between the two, the play concludes with another monologue on what love is. The relationship between Rufus and Syriana is…interesting. Not because she is an escort, but because she wishes she could just sleep with Rufus rather than play along with a charade he has set up where Syriana is only ever asked to come over to Rufus’ place to put on a nightgown, lie next to him and exchange banal pleasantries. As listeners, we come in after three months, Syriana has reached her breaking point and demands to know what Rufus’ deal is. Obviously the war has messed him up and he’s insecure about his mangled body. It was however hard to tell whether Rufus’ character was meant to sound like an emotionless robot or if Powers simply delivered his lines in a monotonous way. Although I would like to think that it was an intentional way of conveying how Rufus was now dead inside, it made for an unpleasant listening experience. It was boring.
Syriana started out in a similar way, but she then came through as she broke out of the character Rufus hired her to play. It seemed inconsistent with one of the plays other themes: love. The two monologues that sandwich Rufus and Syriana’s story were fun and talked about the pain and joy love comes with. I even found myself checking off on some of the behaviours listed in what love isn’t: “Yep, did that, also did that one…” But as far as Rufus was concerned, where was the hurt? Where was the anger? He seemed to have an interesting past, but the way he was portrayed (vocally) removed all depth from his character. Overall, I found McNamara’s work interesting, but the podcast didn’t quite effectively get the emotions across. But this seems to be a pretty difficult task without a body or facial expressions to support them.