Nathalie Mallette, a masterful performance

Although still relevant for its critique of toxic masculinity, the play A very beautiful, very sad reel Presented at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert, struggling to find its tone after 45 years.

Awarded following its release in 1978, this work by Jean-Mans Delisle chronicles the struggles of a poor family from Abitibi in the 1950s who must endure the tyranny of an alcoholic father who cares for one of his daughters.

Played by Frédéric Bowin, the patriarch advances towards his older sister, played brilliantly by Sara Laurendo. Two younger sisters, played by Eve Duranzo and Gabriel Lessard, disapprove of their father’s behavior of burning his money on vices without putting food on the table.

As his nickname suggests, Ti-Fou, the only son in the household, suffers from cognitive development problems. He apes his father’s violent ways.

Finally, Nathalie Mallette provides a masterful presence as a mother who tolerates her husband’s overbearing words, as well as her elder and her son’s twisted behavior.

The first part is the hardest

Despite Mark Beland’s honest staging, the first half of the show lacks naturalness and realism. The plot is not very subtle. The arrival of the brother-in-law (Benoît Mauffette) and a twist in the situation are unconvincing.

But the shocking incident that happened face to face with father and mother shook the public. Both parents open their hearts and reveal the gulf that separates them. Natalie Mallett’s talent shines through in this powerful exchange.

The last scenes are great, including the ending that brings forward a social flaw.

This crude text with strong language addresses difficult and delicate themes. It shows the power women have in resisting oppression, despite being enslaved. However, poor interactions between some of the characters mean that the story lacks bite.

A very beautiful, very sad reel Presented at Théâtre du Rideau Vert through October 28.

A very beautiful, very sad reel ★★★☆☆

Directed by Mark Beland

With Frédéric Bovin, Sarah Laurent, Ave Duranzo and Nathalie Mallet

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