Review: This Bus Won’t Stop

Walking into the Centaur Theatre, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw the beaten and burned body of a public transit bus up on stage. Lending the room a smoky atmosphere, the ominous presence of the destroyed bus gave a sense of dread that something horrible had happened. I hadn’t yet found my assigned seat and I was already on the edge of it.

Montreal’s Théâtre I.N.K. is presenting the English-language world premiere of their play Bus Stops. Written, directed and choreographed by Marilyn Perreault, Bus Stops is a mystery told via the intertwining stories of six individuals.

It soon becomes apparent that they died in a tragic accident—the bus they were on suddenly exploded.

The crux of the play is the characters recounting the dreams they had before the tragedy to a coroner, who is trying to piece together the scattered information. The tale takes you through the victims’ last living moments of lost love, malicious intentions and guilt. The mystery unravels and, by the time the play has ended, the fate of these characters hits you hard.

Jimmy, one of the characters, spoke often about his being an immigrant, making jabs at the authority figures who would ask for his passport because he was a dual citizen.

“Which one would you like to see?” Jimmy would ask in a cynical tone of voice. “Navy blue, or green?”

Before she died, a teenage girl named Sandy would joke about her own tragic death and consequently explained how she preferred to stay in the bus to observe other people’s lives. This kind of humour worked well with the tone of the play, giving it a breath of comedic relief in an otherwise tense setting, cracking jokes at the different situations, all the while maintaining a serious undertone.

The use of props in this show was done creatively and in an unexpected way. Centre stage was the most important element—the bus burnt to a husk. Actors also performed acrobatic routines around the massive prop, jumping and climbing up and around its bars.

The most interesting and creative way that the bus was used as a surface for projecting images. The actors would also strip away exterior pieces of the bus as the play progressed, to reveal more of what was going on inside the bus.

Bus Stops // Centaur Theatre (453 St. François-Xavier St.) // Until March 27 more info

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