This article appeared at: http://www.thesuburbannews.ca/content/en/5930
Walter J. Lyng
Imago Theatre’s Champs de Mars: A Story of War, may be one of the most bleak comedies you’ve ever seen. The story of a young soldier back from Kandahar dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, Champs de Mars does not shy away from taking aim both at the military establishment and idealistic pacifists.
The story fleshes out as Eric the soldier, played by William Greenblatt, is assigned to a psychiatrist named Rachel (Leni Parker) to work out some of his issues. Eric is haunted by visions of a quasi-demonic sergeant (Bill Croft) who won’t let him reintegrate into civilian life. Rachel, meanwhile, after having dealt with so many other soldiers in a similar situation, is at her own wit’s end and turns to learning Klezmer clarinet as a method of coping.
Her teacher (Alain Goulem), however, turns out to be a somewhat dimwitted anti-war activist who can’t appreciate the irony in the fact that his protest group is named War on War. As all this is going on, a fledgling action film director (Andrew Shaver) tries to reinvent his career by pitching a movie about the war in Afghanistan which he hopes will be his Apocalypse Now.
The performances are all around solid and the dialogue of writer Pierre-Michel Tremblay (translated by Paula Wing) manages to be both humorous and poignant.
The minimalist set design by Eo Sharp works well in this context as it complements the post-war void-like existence that all these characters find themselves trapped in.
Champs de Mars’s crowning achievement is in demonstrating how war adversely affects many different elements of society, not just the soldiers who sacrifice themselves. It also makes the point that while war may be all but inevitable, it will always be an atrocious reality. As for protesters, the play seems to suggest that they should concentrate on attacking the institutions that propagate war rather than the actual participants for they are just caught up in the gears.
Champs de Mars: A Story of War runs until Dec. 4 at the Monument-National theatre. For more information, visit http://www.imagotheatre.ca