Hunchback rocks Hugo's tale with brilliant design and storytelling
In many of the adaptations of French literary giant Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the emphasis is on romantic love. But this visually stunning production by Edmonton-based Catalyst Theatre delves deep into the dark side of the classic story.
Resident designer Bretta Gerecke, artistic director/director/ writer/ composer Jonathan Christenson, choreographer Laura Krewski and sound designer Wade Staples team up for the continuation of the gothic trilogy that began with Frankenstein and then Nevermore, the Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe and finally Hunchback.
Taking gothic tales that Christenson adapts with text and music, Gerecke creates ingenious costumes and sets, while Krewsky adds movement and dance elements to, creates rivetting theatrical experiences.
Having met at the University of Alberta, Gerecke and Christenson have been creating together for 15 years giving Catalyst a very specific aesthetic.
In a phone conversation before the Vancouver previews, Christenson talked about Catalyst’s creative process.
“Bretta and I spend a lot of time dialoguing about the world that the play lives in," explained Christenson. "(In Hunchback), I went back to the novel, reading and re-reading, and then words, music, rhythms started to emerge that didn’t necessarily flow chronologically."
With any new work, workshops are necessary to enable the creators to see if what’s on the page and in their imaginations, are feasible.
“I wrote the first third really fast, and then we workshopped it with Laura, who uses that time to build a physical vocabulary," Christenson said. "A showing with a small audience gave me the feedback to continue."
The previous two shows have used a Gothic sensibility - Edward Gory meets Tim Burton meets high fashion, filtered through Gerecke’s genius - and Hunchback follows that same path. We want to play up the motion of Gothic -- more larger than life, less street.”
Christenson said that he wanted to focus on the "outsider" element in the Hunchback story, which is under-exposed in many other productions.
An amazing cast: Jeremy Baumung, Andrew Cohen, Molly Flood, Beth Graham, Ava Jane Markus, Ron Pederson, and Scott Walters, triple threats all, fulfill the vision of the artistic team.
This is theatre that taps into a younger audience who understands the aesthetic and can appreciate the post modern music and movement. “We capture the spirit of the work and put it in context of contemporary media.”
WHEN: February 18 – March 10, 2012
OPENING NIGHT: February 23, 2012 at 8PM
Feb 18, 20, 22-25, 27-Mar 3, 6-10: 8PM
Feb 25, 29, Mar 3, 7, 8, 10: 2PM
WHERE: VANCOUVER PLAYHOUSE (Hamilton St. at Dunsmuir St.)
TICKETS: from $45 available from Vancouver Playhouse website
Box Office: 604.873.3311 (Hours: Mon-Fri 9:30am-5:00pm) /
ADDED VALUE: Post-show talkbacks: Feb 27, Mar 6