As the story unfolds, we meet Colette, (Jillian Fargey) a woman whose husband was abducted while on a business trip to Columbia. Tormented by not knowing if her husband is still alive, she forges an unlikely connection with drifter Jasper (Jade Hassouné) who may or may not know the details of her husbands disappearance.
Colette seems to handle her situation well at times, mainly due to the conversations she regularly has with her husband Tom’s “ghost” (Paul Hopkins). Supporting characters include meddling older sister Evelyn (Susan Glover, in a stand out performance) who offers much needed comic relief and reliable neighbour Bill (Carlo Mestroni).
Fargey, who brings to mind a young Annette Bening, shines as Colette, her emotional journey heart-wrenching at times. Unfortunately, the play was quite repetitive and full of cliché‘s which makes it difficult to empathize with her character.
Hopkins does a splendid job as the kidnapped husband. He makes the most of his mainly bland dialogue and brings to life the imagined spouse who is charming and protective, even if just in the mind of Colette.
Despite playing an under-developed character, Hassouné does a admirable job as the charming Jasper with questionable motives. If we could have cared a little more for him through the duration of the play, the ending and his character’s fate would have been much more effective.
Director Roy Surette does a fine job with this long, drawn out tale, which could have easily been edited down to 90 minutes from it’s existing 2 hours+ running time. The staging and use of the elaborate set was beautiful to watch.
The beautiful set design by John C. Dinning and the impressive lighting design by Luc Prairie, both help set the scene of a lake-front property in the dead of winter. Right down to the stunningly realistic snow fall.The moving bed was a brilliant choice, though tremendously underused.
In Absentia has many thought evoking lines, along with some hilarious ones, but the script and the character development fall far too short. Certainly not a play that sticks with you after you’ve exited the theatre.
In Absentia runs at The Centaur Theatre through March 4.
Noelle Hannibal for Master class à Montréal