Reviews - Fringe 2009

Being at Home with Claude

By Tom Mackan
Published July 22, 2009

By Rene-Daniel Dubois (Translated by Linda Gaboriau: Abridged by permission of the author)
Directed by Alan Lee
Featuring Ryan Fisher, Lorne Hiro, Ross Tundo, Chris Lange

I believe dear readers, that there will be but one more opportunity to see this production at Hamilton Fringe: 6:00 PM tonight, Wednesday, July 22, at Pepper Jack Café. If you've been hesitating or unaware of the event, this is for your enlightenment.

Montreal, 1967, Expo and all that. A male prostitute has let himself into the office of Judge Delorme in the Montreal Court House. In this production we are brought into the narrative in the middle of its unfolding.

The light comes up and the picture comes into sudden focus in the way it happens when you're changing channels on the TV. A character is shouting at another character. A third is working one of those courtroom typing things and is recording on it what is being said.

This is not TV, however. We are in a small theatre space and the action is electric and alive, a few meters away from us. Within the hour that we spend with these actors the electricity turns to bolts of shock and nearly unbearable exposure to a man's most raw underbelly of violent emotion.

Director Lee keeps the tension tight even while action is limited, almost static at times. His actors play their roles with stunning realism. Lorne Hiro as a Montreal Police Inspector plays with splendid theatrical containment and sense of time and place, hitting violent highs and desperate lows with enviable discipline.

Admirable as the indifferent stenographer, Ross Tundo, is a terrific second violin, underplaying expertly. And in an even smaller role, Chris Lang brings selected moments of crafty creativity to the device role of a simple Police Officer.

But the production owes its triumph to the young actor Ryan Fisher as Yves in a mercurial performance of skilful mastery. It would give too much away to explore this character here, except as noted already, that he is a hustler.

We can tell you that he has confessed to an horrendous murder where homosexual sex is involved, in a period when government was much more into the bedrooms of the nation than is the case today. Expo 67 has Montreal in the eyes of the world. Cover-up is the order of the day, but Yves is not interested in that.

No more to tell here, except that the last nearly ten minutes of the play are totally commanded by this young actor and he will take your breath away. "Bravo!"

TNgM

Tom Mackan is Publisher and editor of NEWZY BITZ, an online Community Theatre newsletter in the GHA, with over 200 subscribers. He is a Member of the Board, Theatre Burlington; an actor and director in GHA Community Theatre for fifty years; winner of over 25 awards and citations in the Western Ontario region and beyond; recipient of 2007 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Theatre); a Graduate of Canadian Theatre School (Sterndale Bennett) Toronto, 1955; and a retired teacher of English and Drama in public and private schools in the GHA and abroad.

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