Then bitch(s) (2018) and Ordinary Guerrilla (2019), two shows presented at the Center du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, Marie-Ève Milot and Marie-Claude St-Laurent arrive at Quat’Sous to add a third chapter to their passionate feminist theater. Unfortunately, despite the happy intentions -“visiting the lands of love between women”-, sappho just don’t go over the ramp.
Poetess of ancient Greece, Sappho would have lived around the seventh centuryand century BC. BC on the island of Lesbos. From his life and his work (of which only a few fragments have survived) sapphism and lesbianism were born. Among the disciples of Sappho circulated the Filia, this mix of love and friendship hitherto reserved for men, an egalitarian feeling, that is, one that unfolds far from any domination, outside any hierarchy. For people living in the 21st centuryand century, Sappho’s ideas are not only inspiring, but also beautifully subversive.
To pay homage to this heritage, to celebrate it, even to rehabilitate it, the creators of the show imagined Denise (Muriel Dutil), none other than the reincarnation of Sappho in today’s Montreal. Although sick, although constantly threatened by “renovations”, the former owner of a “women only” bar welcomes, within the four walls of her dilapidated apartment in the Center-South, women who, for various reasons, go through various hardships They need shelter, a refuge, a home where they can recover their taste for life. We discover Sacha the impetuous (Nathalie Claude), Joris the shy (Alix Mouysset), Ariane the bruised (Florence Blain Mbaye) and then Denise’s daughter, Chloé the frowning (Katia Lévesque).
While we admire the special bond that binds these women together, the power of their sisterhood, we generally lament the banality of their everyday lives. While we would very much like to be empathetic with the stories of these “mother-daughter lesbians”, something prevents us from doing so. However, it is about crucial issues: aggression and reparation, love and mourning, homophobic violence and economic domination… What keeps us at a distance for almost two hours? Should the portraits have been deepened? To flesh out certain dialogues? Give more impetus to the staging?
Recounting key moments in Sappho’s fate through rear-projected illustrations and collages, Alix Mouysset adds a pleasing visual poetry to the performance. Unfortunately, the two dimensions of the show, dramatic and didactic, never form a harmonious whole; the whole is never more than the sum of the parts.