Review: le fa le do

by Lynn on October 31, 2013

in The Passionate Playgoer

le fa le do

At the Berkeley Street Theatre, Upstairs, Toronto. Written and translated by Luc Moquin. Directed by Mathieu Charette. Composed by Claude Naubert. Set by Melanie McNeill. Costumes by Nina Okens. Lighting by Simon Rossiter. Starring: Raymond Accolas, Sasha Dominique, Geneviève Dufour, Erick Fournier, André Rainville, Philip Van Martin.

Created by théâtre français de Toronto and Theatre de la Catapulte. Plays until November 2.

le fa le do is the last play in a five year collaboration between théâtre français de Toronto and theatre la catapulet. They toured one play per year around French speaking parts of Ontario and le fa le do is the last of that collaboration.

le fa le do  as in fa and do of a musical scale, is  an off-the-wall-blast. It’s a mystery; it’s a comedy; it’s political and satiric;  it’s about following your bliss; and it’s a musical with Fado singing and karaoke.

Albert is a near-retirement archivist who is called in to clear out almost all the recordings of the National Archives. This offends him as a preserver of important things, but he does it. Julien is a young scientist working on his late mentor’s project of finding the secret of being young and perhaps even changing brain genetics.  His mentor recorded several tapes with scientific findings on them. One tape is missing and the focus is trying to find it. His mentor was killed three years before in an explosion and Julien …was in the same explosion, lived but can’t remember a thing about it. His ‘aunt’ runs the place and is close mouthed abut the explosion and just wants the young man to find the secret because it will bring her company millions. She also seems inordinately attached to Julien who has also announced that he has found the love of his life, in a karaoke bar of all places. The aunt doesn’t take too kindly to this.

Albert luckily finds a tape with a woman singing Fado beautifully. He is intrigued and needs to know who she is. He plays the tape again and again. But something is odd. There seems to be another voice ‘underneath.’ Who could it be? There is also, Jean-Daniel, a former Bay street trader who has found his bliss being a cowboy karaoke singer and doer of odd jobs. He sings in a club with a woman who sings Fado, beautifully.

As I said off the wall. With every twist and turn in the story, the jaw drops more and more at the incredulousness of the story. It’s a perfect example of a show in which you must suspend your disbelief and enter into the dark zaniness of it all.

It’s directed with a wonderful, zany seriousness by Mathieu Charette. Part film noir, part documentary, part thriller and mystery, mashed up into an intriguing whole. Together with his design team the whole look shimmers with atmosphere. Melanie McNeill’s set is like a puzzle which when all the components are rolled together around a central pole creates one setting and when each component is pulled away from that central pole, we are in another setting. It’s is cleverly efficient for travel, which is what the company will do after Toronto. Simon Rossiter’s moody lighting puts us in a world that can be a smoky karaoke bar, or just murky enough for a murder.

The cast is uniformly fine. They have a terrific sense of the humour and play it very straight which is essential; and they can sing. Claude Naubert composed the music. While it’s performed in French there are many performances with surtitles. It’s hilarious and worth your time.

It plays until Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Berkeley Street Theatre.

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