It would have been impressive if France Huot played one character in Encore Theatre's production of Alphonse. It would have been even more impressive if she played two.
Either way, it would have required her to learn lines, get into the persona of each individual and do it all under the watchful eye of an audience.
However, what she did was beyond impressive — Huot played a whopping 25 characters in the 90-minute show. Every single role was hers.
She was equally compelling as a police officer, snot-nosed student, worried parent and imaginative kid.
The well-known member of the Francophone theatre community made her English-language debut in the production.
“There are so many elements to this piece that excite me,” said Huot. “As an actor, it’s great to have a script with so much imagery, metaphor, characters, and different realities.
“The story itself is a joy to tell. Its simplicity and its complexity at the same time is what makes it so beautiful.”
One would think it may be difficult to follow an elaborate plot when there was no physical way to differentiate the characters, but Huot did a phenomenal job of making each character unique. In fact, it was quite easy to phase in and out of the imaginary and the real world with her.
Jenny Hazelton did a fabulous job directing Wajdi Mouawad's story.
“I immediately fell in love with the style and journey of this story and the way that Wajdi Mouawad and (translator) Shelly Tepperman have woven the poetic text together,” said Hazelton.
“It is a much less clichéd coming-of-age story, which I found I related to when thinking about my own struggles growing up as a free-spirited creative type.”
In the production, young Alphonse goes missing. His family is worried about him, and police get involved, too.
All the while, the young boy is wandering around country roads, imagining stories of Pierre-Paul René, “a gentle boy with a one-note voice who is never surprised by anything.”
The fictitious character finds himself in all sorts of heroic quests and journeys.
His adventures are intricately intertwined with the real world's search for Alphonse.
Throughout the entire show, Huot is on stage. She never takes a break, or even seems to catch her breath. She makes juggling the roles seem effortless.
Her performance alone is worth seeing. Couple that with an endlessly amusing storyline, and you have a great excuse to go see a show.
Jan. 26 is the last chance to catch the production at the Ernie Checkeris Theatre at Thorneloe. Check out encoretheatre.ca to pick up tickets to the performance.