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{The warm memory of yet another outlandish story}
Photo: Gregg Eligh
For The Pleasure Of Seeing Her Again
By Michel Tremblay
Directed by Gordon McCall
Starring Nicola Cavendish, Dennis O'Connor
Playing at the Bluma Appel Theatre, April 13 – May 13, 2000
Produced by Canadian Stage in conjunction with Centaur Theatre (Montreal)
Review by Michael Cottrell

"But ma, can you just try not to exaggerate so much?" "I did, but I got bored"

For The Pleasure Of Seeing Her Again is exactly that: a pleasure of seeing her. Seeing whom? Seeing her, ...seeing mother. Good, bad or indifferent, we all have one.

"Pleasure" is comedic reminiscing of one man's memories of "ma".

Now if you thought your mother was one to exaggerate the truth -- well wait till you meet Michel Tremblay's Nana.

Once again Tremblay creates a work that is powered by female, mother energy. Come on, what can you expect from a queer Quebecois playwright? Mother is a powerful image for this artist, as also seen in his previous work of Les Belles-Soeurs and Hosanna.

This year, through the production of Theatre Français in the fall and then with Canadian Stage in the spring, both Franco and Anglophones got to enjoy Tremblay's work Encore Une Fois, Si Vous Permettez / For The Pleasure Of Seeing Her Again.

I had been waiting a winter for this production. Being a Quebecophile (one who has a weakness for Quebec men, I mean things of Quebec) I wanted to see how Tremblay's work had been translated for the English stage.

Well, Nana, is as outlandish and prone to diatribes of embellishments and exaggerations as she ever was.

Nicola Cavendish brings Nana to life as soon as she steps out into center stage. Even before she emerges and is seen through backlights, you lean back in your seat and gulp, here she comes. Oh my god, the woman doesn't stop talking.

Dennis O'Connor plays madame's son and is this play's narrator. Unlike Roger La Rue from the previous French version, O'Connor has a large robust stage presence as he tells his tale from ages 10 to 20.

It is O'Connor's strength as an actor that brings out a weakness in the play. The main character is Nana, but at times her energy does not always triumph over O'Connor's; she becomes diminutive and must bring the energy back up and over the top to again appear larger then life.

Having enjoyed the cozy Théâtre Français version, I was disappointed in the set designed by John Dinning. This was not a production of Les Belles-Soeurs. The staging was, to put it simply, sparse. Black and barren, but that only served as a backdrop of what was to come. Dinning does Nana well with an outlandish, over the top, I-can't-believe-what-I-am-seeing final set that literally comes out of nowhere. We should all wish our mothers such a send-off.

Nana floating off in the French version left the audience in tears of remembrance. The English version received cheers and applause as she steps into her Saskatchewan memory.

For The Pleasure Of Seeing Her Again, was indeed just that... a Pleasure Of Seeing Her Again.

{ Flash: }June 26, 2000: At Toronto's Dora Mavor Moore Awards, For The Pleasure Of Seeing Her Again tied with Linda Griffith's Alien Creature for outstanding new play.

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