Break Up to Make Up

The Leisure Society Asks if it’s Worth it

  • The Leisure Society plays with dysfunctional family and friends.

Breaking up with a friend is hard to do. Instead of just ignoring phone calls and invitations, an official parting over dinner is how it’s done in Infinithéâtre’s The Leisure Society. Through comedy and tragedy the value of a product-driven, picture-perfect life is explored with questions like, “is sex in a pool dangerous?” and “how many people before you have to call it an orgy?”

The quirk and humour of François Archambault’s The Leisure Society (which has been translated into English by Bobby Theodore) serves as a vehicle for the show’s dark social critique.

“What’s fascinating about this play is that it has so many facets and so many elements to it,” said Concordia grad and director Ellen David. “It’s a tragedy, and it’s made palatable by the comedy.”

The play starts with two slightly awkward new parents, Mary and Peter, played by Catherine De Sève and Daniel Brochu, in the middle of an interview with a Chinese adoption agency. They are trying to show their best side and then retreat to the living room to mull over their impending breaking-up with a friend.

When the unsuspecting friend (Howard Rosenstein) shows up he’s brought his 21-year-old arm-candy (Sheena Gazé-Deslandes) with him. The young woman’s carefree but grounded manner holds a mirror to Mary’s life, and many bottles of wine later, the demons are out.

“[Peter] is so deeply unhappy,” David said. “He’s not necessarily aware of it, and when he starts to realize it he’s not really sure who he is or who his wife is.”

During the entire play the sound of the couple’s crying baby grates at the characters, as does the sight of a new piano Mary wanted but can’t actually play. Mary and Peter have worked so hard to satisfy the image of a complete life that neither has stopped to think about if it’s what they actually want.

“These people who you think have everything–they live in these fantastic homes and seem happy and successful–you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.” David said. “The masks we wear conceal a lot.”

Ellen David has had The Leisure Society on her mind for years. She was so impressed with the original French production, La Société des Loisirs at Montreal’s La Licorne theatre, that when offered the chance to direct a show for Infinithéâtre it instantly came to mind.

Communications grad Patrick Andrew Boivin worked as video designer for the production and said that David had such a clear vision of what she wanted that the process for the other artists became easy.

Boivin said that the transition from Concordia to the working world happened thanks to “a series of happy accidents and knowing the right people at the right time.”

David added that there’s no real formula for making the leap from school to work.

“You can’t give up,” she said. “It’s a long-haul. There are more people than ever trying to get into this business. Try to set yourself apart by being true to yourself and doing the kind of work you want to do—and just keep at it.”

The Leisure Society / playing until March 25 / Bain St-Michel (5300 Saint Dominique) / General $20 Students $15 more info

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