Albertine in Five Times at the Walterdale Playhouse
Feb 11, 14-18 @ 8pm
Feb 12 @ 2pm
Tickets $12-16 at the door
Make no mistake, should you choose to attend the Walterdale Playhouseʼs production of Albertine in Five Times your night will centre around a woman caged by a subsuming anger. Michel Tremblayʼs play follows a lonely soul as she reﬂects on a life overcast rage, regret, and reprehensible behavior. She is fractured into omnipresent form as her elderly self attempts to adjust to a strange new home. And although at times difﬁcult to witness a helpless feeling woman succumb to wave after wave of an uncontrollable fury following shattering life events, the play is nothing short of an exploration into the depth inherent to “the impotence of rage.” The nihilism-infused work confronts its audience with grim but resonating themes concerning the relentless nature of aging and the contribution ignorance makes to happiness. In the intimate setting of the Walterdale, one feels the presence of an existential crisis looming.
The intensely emotional play demands a cast able to properly carry the difﬁcult subject matter. Such a task was, in my opinion, accomplished by the members of the Walterdale Playhouse as they performed with enduring compelling emotion I found powerful to the point of unsettling. The harrowing material would have come across as overblown rather than gripping had the players not performed with as much honesty as they did. Albertineʼs violent fury at 30, pervasive hateful outlook on life at 40, chilling willingness to abandon her children at 50, deranged melancholia at 60, and acute breakdowns at 70 had my friend and I exchanging disturbed glances in the dark theater. Given that there is only one act, the eighty minute play was overwhelming at times without an intermission. However, thankfully each Albertine was as witty as she was woeful and the lighthearted quips brought some necessary levity to the stage. Not to neglect Janine Hodder, who played the role of Madelaine with all the complexity a sisterly relationship should entail; at once she was a nurturing and a crushing force, a loving conﬁdante and a haughty judge. The talent is not surprising considering the cast consisted of established members of the playhouse.
Ultimately, the Walterdale Theater Groupʼs production of Albertine in Five Times is a reﬂection upon the sometimes hard to face identities undertaken over the various progressions and regressions that constitute a lifetime. Although my thoughts may have been a bit more blue and philosophical than usual in the hours and days following, the experience was at heart a reminder to appreciate the ephemeral good moments life has to offer, lending, in the words of the creative director, “the wisdom to accept and to dream” in the face of disappointment.