Trudeau and the FLQ

Texte : Michael Hollingsworth

Direction : Michael Hollingsworth

Date : 1996

Interprètes : John Blackwood, Alan Bridle, Janet Burke, Michael Carley, John Dolan, John Jarvis, Robert Nasmith

Endroit : Factory Studio Cafe, 125 rue Bathurst, Toronto (504-9971)

Commentaires :

Trudeau and the FLQ« The past we must not worship, for it is in the future that we will find our greatness », says Pierre Elliott Trudeau in Trudeau And The FLQ, thereby transforming Canada's collective amnesia into a virtue. Fortunately, playwright Michael Hollingsworth knows how to serve up our history the only way most can bear it -- not in embarrassment (as is our habit) or misplaced glory (which is American) but with a sense of humor. In the latest instalment of Videocab's Global Village series, Hollingsworth puts the late 1960s in his comic vise-grip.

In this colorful landscape of bright-striped pantsuits and quilted cocktail dresses, the excellent cast takes us from the events preceding Trudeau's election as prime minster, through to his controversial management of the FLQ crisis.

Besides the obvious draw of the subject -- Trudeau is, after all, one of the few figures in our past who exudes a certain mythic sparkle -- it's the sheer spectacle and craft of Videocabaret's production that takes your breath away. Zany, imaginative caricatures (like the curmudgeonly James Cross or the acid-popping flower child Maggie Trudeau) and the positively inspired costumes are just part of the show's allure.

Amid the dazzling production values, the play makes its most interesting point by demarcating the class differences between disgruntled, Slurpee drinking FLQ members and upscale Montrealers. In one hilarious tableau, Trudeau, wearing a fringed jacket, paddles along in his canoe, pensively outlining his notions of federalism. A few scenes later, he concedes : « Leisure is the mother of philosophy -- I'm going skiing.»

No matter how pompous or privileged, John Dolan's pasty-faced portrait of Trudeau, though perfectly rendered, transcends the often cruel parodies. References to famous Trudeauisms, such as « nationalism based on race is barbarism » and the well-loved « the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation », remind us that, for all his aristocratic follies, nothing can deface the stature of Canada's only philosopher king.

The FLQ, on the other hand, don't survive Hollingsworth's satiric jabs quite so well. One wonders how Quebecois clowns might have depicted them.

Laura Kosterski