Sneak Peak Radio Review: NEEDLES AND OPIUM

by Lynn on November 28, 2013

in The Passionate Playgoer

Needles and Opium

At the Bluma Appel Theatre, Toronto. Written and directed by Robert Lepage. Set by Carl Fillion. Costumes by Francois St-Aubin, Lighting by Bruno Matte. Composed and sound design by Jean-Sebastien Cote. Images by Lionel Arould. Starring: Marc Lebrèche and Wellesley Robertson III.

Robert Lepage has created a stunning new production of Needles and Opium, which he originally produced in 1991. With this new production he has re-imagined a death-defying set which is realized by designer Carl Fillion; his images; use of projections; overlapping stories and sheer theatrical brilliance confirm Lepage is one of the theatre’s leading creators.

Needles and Opium is about loneliness because of loss of love, creativity, addiction, and displacement. It takes place in 1949 and 1989. In 1949 French intellectual poet-playwright Jean Cocteau is in New York for the first time which resulted in his writing Lettre aux Américains, “A Letter to Americans.” At the same time Miles Davis, American musician par excellence , is in Paris for the first time to score a film, or rather just extemporize the music while he watches the film. Cocteau was addicted to opium; Davis to heroin. Davis met and fell in love with French chanteuse, Juliette Greco, and she with him. Marriage was planned by Davis didn’t feel they would have a chance since mixed marriages were frowned upon then in America. So they parted.

In 1989, a Quebecois actor name Robert has come to Paris to narrate a film in English, on Juliette Greco. Robert has recently broken up with his lover and his sense of loss and despair is palpable. He is having trouble with the director of the film; he can’t sleep because of the moaning and groaning of the incessant love-making in the hotel room next door; and when he calls his lover he is rebuffed.

Lepage has envisioned a world off balance. All the action takes place inside a cube that seems in constant motion. The characters balance inside it while it turns on its axis. Sometimes a safety cord is needed. Sometimes a character is suspended in mid-air from the flies. Images are bombarded inside and around the cube. The vision is never short of arresting.

It plays until Dec. 1. Go!

Full review will be broadcast on CIUT FRIDAY MORNING 89.5FM on Nov. 29 between 9 am and 10 am.

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