As holiday season preparations build to a frenzy, the English-language theatre scene in Montreal tends to wind down.
The 39 Steps, deftly directed by Eda Holmes at Centaur Theatre, is British playwright Patrick Barlow’s frenetically funny take on the Hitchcock film. The run ends December 10.
Meanwhile, Talisman Theatre presents Vic and Flo Saw a Bear, by playwright Michael Mackenzie, also at the Centaur. In this adaptation of a screenplay by Denis Côté, two female ex-convicts set up house after doing time together. It runs until December 2.
Urban Tales, an anglo variation on Yvan Bienvenue’s Contes Urbains, runs December 7–16 at the Centaur. This year’s collection of darkly comic yuletide stories is titled Urban Tales Immigrant Song: First Xmas in Montreal.
For tickets and information on all of the above: www.centaurtheatre.com
On the classical side, 17th century playwright Aphra Behn’s rarely seen The Rover will be performed by the English graduating class of the National Theatre School, under the direction of Tadeusz Bradecki. December 11–16. Reserve your tickets at www.ent-nts.ca
The January rentrée
In January, theatre action gets off to an edgy start with the Wildside Festival, running January 4–13 at Centaur Theatre. This year’s six offbeat offerings, presented in repertoire, include The Morning After the Life Before. This two-woman show by Ann Blake about post-marriage-equality Ireland was chosen as Best English Production at the 2017 Montreal Fringe. www.centaurtheatre.com
‘Master Harold’ … and the Boys, playwright Athol Fugard’s searing masterpiece about race relations in South Africa in the 1950s, runs January 21–February 18 at the Segal Centre. This outstanding 2016 Shaw Festival production has already been presented in Toronto by Obsidian Theatre, where it won two Dora Awards: best direction (Phil Akin) and best actor (Andre Sills). www.segalcentre.org
The Baklawa Recipe by Pascale Rafie is a poignant new play about the intertwined lives of two Lebanese sisters who emigrate to Montreal in the 1960s and raise their families in Ville Saint-Laurent. This Centaur Theatre production runs January 23–February 18. www.centaurtheatre.com
The spring rush
While post-holiday action begins in January, theatre momentum ramps up in February, leading to a crescendo in May and June.
Alyson Grant’s new play Conversion, which focuses on a family showdown over a celebratory dinner, plays February 6–25 at Infinitheatre’s new location, Espace Knox, at 6215 Godfrey Ave. in NDG. www.infinitheatre.com
Black Theatre Workshop and Espace Libre break new ground in presenting Black Boys, a Toronto production from Buddies in Bad Times, in English with French surtitles, at Espace Libre. Three personal narratives about gender, sexuality and race fuel this collective creation by Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Tawiah Ben M’carthy and Thomas Olajide. Black Boys plays February 13–17. www.blacktheatreworkshop.ca
At the Segal Centre, Marjorie Prime, by American playwright Jordan Harrison, runs February 25–March 18. In this touching play about identity and the limits of technology, an 85-year-old woman interacts with an avatar of her late husband. The film version of Marjorie Prime premiered at Sundance in 2017. www.segalcentre.org
Innovative Albertan puppeteer Ronnie Burkett returns to Montreal with the Quebec premiere of his zany adults-only show, The Daisy Theatre, a vaudevillian romp. It runs February 20–March 25 at Centaur Theatre. www.centaurtheatre.com
Last but not least, prepare to weep for Jean Valjean as the venerable pop opera Les Misérables returns to Montreal at Place des Arts, February 7–11. www.evenko.ca