Review: FLUSH

by Lynn on February 3, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person, at Théâtre français de Toronto, Berkeley Street Theatre, Toronto, Ont. until Feb. 5.

In French with English surtitles.

Written and directed by Marie-Claire Marcotte

Sound by Gilles Zolty

Projections by Teagan O’Bertos

Lighting by Duncan Appleton

Set and props by Brooklyn Bitner with the collaboration of Rory Jewiss

Costumes by Jeff Chief

A gentle, quirky play about family and forgiveness.

A woman named Corrine (Chanda Gibson) applies to rent a room in a rundown building. She carries a goldfish bowl with fish for “La Petite” (Hannah Forest-Briand), a girl who lives there, it seems. The landlady is Marthe (Genevieve Langlois) a rather curt, unsmiling soul who rents Corrine the room. Another boarder is Fred (Felix Leblanc) who plays the guitar and does errands. He seems a bit developmentally delayed. He works but is teased. La Petite is a lively girl, difficult, and a challenge in school. There is a familiarity between Corrine and Marthe.

The secrets of each character unravel slowly until we learn the stories of each and how they are connected to each other.

The acting of the four is fine, mysterious, funny, confident and bold. The piece is written and directed by Marie-Claire Marcotte. The direction is full of whimsy, impish humour and quiet emotion. The title comes from Corinne’s efforts to flush the dead goldfish down the toilet, only to have them back up in another toilet in the same building. Life continues in strange ways.

The problem with the writer also being the director is that the writer doesn’t know when to cut from the script and the director won’t tell her. Even at 95 minutes with no intermission the piece needs a bit of judicious cutting. Information is repeated in some scenes. The play looked like it was about to end a few times, but then went on.

Perhaps this might help… Fred loves playing his guitar and Marthe has told him to stop, usually when he is in the basement singing and playing loudly. But Marthe realizes this gives Fred pleasure and she has decided not to tell him to stop and just let him play. He plays anyway every time he can. Towards the end, Fred is playing and singing loudly. It’s the first time in the play he’s sung a whole song. He’s surprised that Marthe hasn’t stopped him—in fact she is out. So he continues singing. The song doesn’t need to be there and prolongs the play unnecessarily—the information has already been established–and should be cut. What should be the last scene—all four characters are sitting at the dinner table, eating—is prolonged as well when there is a loud knocking at the door. Corrine goes to the door to deal with the person knocking. She knows who it is. Unnecessary again. In an earlier scene Corinne dealt with the person in a phone call explaining her situation. It was clear and that should have been the end. Her going to the door will only re-iterate the information she told the guy on the phone. Cut this bit. End the play with the four characters eating a communal dinner. It finalizes a lovely moment and does not dilute it with unnecessary stuff.

Presented by Théâtre français de Toronto

Opened: Feb. 1

Closes: Feb. 5.

Running time: 95 minutes (no intermission)

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