I’m still not quite sure how to describe Rêveurs définitifs. Is it a magic show? A quirky cabaret of sorts? A surrealistic mish-mash of acts and performances that come together to make you dream and laugh? I suppose it’s of all that and more.
Currently presented by Vidéotron in collaboration with Loto-Québec as part of Just for Laughs, Rêveurs définitifs is something special. Unlike the routine stand-up comedy acts (of which I’m a huge and devoted fan), this cabaret brings us a few laughs, but it mostly brings us the magic. You’re awake, but you feel like you’re dreaming. There’s a kind of poetry to it at all, a sense that you’re being treated to something that isn’t quite real and isn’t quite illusion either. You know there are tricks and manipulation and technology behind all the illusions and the acts, invisible cables and slights of the hand and masterful techniques, but I personally didn’t care to find out how it was all happening. I just went along for the ride. And oh, what a ride it is!
Directed by Raphaël Navarro and Clément Debailleul, Cie 14:20 is a company that has been mixing magic and other circus disciplines primarily in France for close to two decades now.
“Magic is an emotion more than it is a discipline,” says Navarro and after being in the audience last night I completely understand what he means.
Dancer Ingrid Estarque is exquisite. Strong, majestic, powerful, accurate with her movements, and ethereal in her levitation. Every single one of her performances is poetry in motion.
Yann Frisch, Eric Antoine, and Gabriel D’Almedia Freitas keep us entertained and amused with their silly magic tricks and their banter with each other and the crowd and offer much-needed levity in between the more artistic illusion acts.
My favourite act of the night without a doubt was Etienne Saglio’s performance. I don’t exactly know how to describe this act without giving it away, but suffice it to say that seeing someone transform a plastic ball and a sheet of (plastic?) paper (with the help of a single light) into something resembling a cross between a haunting ghost and a jelly fish flying all over the dark room was the stuff of pure magic. I was completely and utterly mesmerized throughout his act and couldn’t take my eyes off the flying spirit as it whirled around the room. That entire act is a lovely and deeply moving testament to human imagination and it alone is almost worth the price of admission as far as I’m concerned.
Add to that performances by Calista Sinclair, Sarah Cerneaux, Léonie St-Onge and Mick Holsbeke, the ethereal and haunting melodies of Montrealer Patrick Watson, performed last night by singer Erika Angell, and you have the makings of an evening that feels like you’re dreaming while still awake.
I left Théâtre St-Denis smiling and walked out to a perfect summer night on St-Denis Street, packed with people and performers. A number of quirky circus performers, who I assume are part of Montreal’s 375th celebrations, were dancing, playing music, walking on stilts, covering unsuspecting tourists with colourful streamers, and the street felt so alive and so happy and so festive that it all just felt like a continuation of the dream I’d just experienced indoors. Summer in Montreal is a bit of a beautiful dream, after all. If only it lasted longer…
For Anglophones worried that this might be a French act they won’t be able to adequately follow, it is, but only barely. The show is primarily a visual show and relies on movement and images to get its points across. The little bit of banter that takes place during the magic acts is pretty basic and if you can’t follow it why are you even living in Montreal?
If you want to experience something hauntingly poetic and magical, something out of the ordinary; if you want a touch of surrealism to go along with your stand-up at this year’s Just For Laughs Festival, go catch Rêveurs Définitifs.
You only have until July 29 before they hit the road on a 400-show world tour, so I’d hurry up if I were you. Magic doesn’t wait forever.