Theatre Preview: A Queer Romance and Horror Story Unfolds on the Centaur Theatre Stage

Vic and Flo Saw a Bear Answers the Question of What a Satisfying Life Could Be

Press photo for Vic and Flo Saw a Bear. Courtesy Talisman Theatre

Horror. Romance. Revenge. These are the elements you are sure to find in Talisman Theatre’s upcoming production, Vic and Flo Saw a Bear.

Based on Denis Côté’s award-winning 2013 film, this horror/romance play features two queer women in an unstable relationship. It will premier this fall at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre on Nov. 23 until Dec. 2.

Côté is a critically acclaimed and internationally admired Quebec filmmaker. His movie Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, like many of his other films, focuses on people on the fringes of society and explores subjects of loneliness, alienation and intimacy.

Michael Mackenzie, an award-winning director with extensive experience directing plays in English and in French, adapted and translated Côté’s movie into English and directed this production.

Mackenzie did a residency with Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal where he practiced translating and adapting plays. During this residency, he was able to confer with Côté himself about adapting his movie into a theatrical production.

The play stars Montreal-based actors, Julie Tamiko Manning as Victoria “Vic” and Natalie Liconti as Flo. The cast also includes up and coming performer Alexandre Lavigne as Guillaume.

Vic and Flo Saw a Bear opens with Vic arriving at her uncle’s sugar shack in a small rural town deep in the woods of Quebec. She’s just been released from jail and on parole after serving most of a life sentence for committing a murder. Her overbearing parole officer Guillaume frequently checks on her throughout the play.

Vic’s younger lover Flo, a fellow ex-con, joins her and also decides to make this place in the middle of nowhere her home. Even though things seem peaceful enough at first, fear and horror begin to creep into this couple’s life when a mysterious woman named Jackie appears, portrayed by Leslie Baker.

Baker is the artistic director of a new company called The Bakery and has worked as a creator, teacher and performer. She stated that she is particularly drawn to the complexity of the characters in the play.

“While there is quietness in the play, the characters are very rich and nuanced,” said Baker. “I feel like there’s a lot of depth and so it’s not a superficial or shallow or stereotypical characterization of [anyone].”

There has been a lot of discussion about the fact that there is a lesbian couple in the play. Baker said that although the queer aspect of the play is interesting and important, it is not its focus of the story.

“The plot is not about a lesbian couple,” Baker explained. “The plot is about two people in love who happen to be lesbians who are experiencing this other event in their lives.”

Baker suggests that because homosexuality is normalized in the play, it becomes all the more impactful. To her, the play most importantly broaches the subject of what defines a satisfying life.

“What the play comes down to for me is life choices,” said Baker. “The choices we make in life and where that leads us, what do we all require as an individual to be satisfied in life?”

The play as a whole is imbued with a sense of mystery and suspense. The characters remain elusive and with the initial romantic backdrop, the horror sneaks up on the situation.

Vic and Flo Saw a Bear // The Centaur Theatre (453 St Francois Xavier St) // Nov. 23 to Dec. 2 // 7:30 p.m. // $22 for students // $26 for general admission