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The Globe and Mail

Bliss: A disturbing tale about our obsessions

3 out of 4 stars

In this nightmarish play, three Walmart employees retell a pair of tales ripped from the tabloids. In one, Celine Dion temporarily retires from singing in Las Vegas; in the other, a Celine fan named Isabelle is tortured horribly by her own family.

Caro (the intense Delphine Bievenu), an outcast cashier who believes her body is turning inside out, conducts her colleagues' recital from a microphone as gradually the two stories bleed together like the pages of a newspaper left out in the rain. A disturbing tale about the powerless and the power of love that probes our society's interconnected obsessions with gruesome crimes and celebrity gossip.

Steven McCarthy's simmering SummerWorks production comes to a boil here with the addition of Diane Labrosse's unsettling sound design and James Lavoie's striking set.

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But his production is undercut by his decision to keep French-Canadian actors in all of the parts but one. A smoother, clearer delivery of Choinière's script – as brilliantly translated by Caryl Churchill – would have given it that extra punch. And with excellent young Stratford Shakespeare Festival member Trent Pardy cast in one of the parts, the accented aesthetic can't even be said to be consistent.

Bliss runs until April 8.

Bliss

  • Written by Olivier Choinière
  • Translated by Caryl Churchill
  • Directed by Steven McCarthy
  • Starring Delphine Bienvenu
  • At Buddies in Bad Times in Toronto


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Theatre critic

J. Kelly Nestruck is The Globe's theatre critic. More

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