Second summer in Sandy Hill and first outing to Odyssey’s “Theatre Under the Stars” in Strathcona Park. This summer’s production The Financier is an English translation of Alain-Rene Lesage’s Tucaret – an amusing comedic romp about deception, greed and posturing of the Baroque French upper class. It’s a who-done-it of pretence as the story unfolds to reveal who really holds the upper-hand in this convoluted caper of deceit.
Tucaret (Andy Massingham), the eponymous financier, is a treacherous loan-shark financing the house-hold of his mistress, the Baroness (Chandel Gambles). The Baroness plays him while in turn funding her own deceitful lover the Knight (Attila Clemann). No sooner has Tucaret gifted the Baroness that she is scammed by the Knight and his wily valet Frontin (Jesse Buck). An attempt by handmaiden Lisette (Alanna Bale) to protect her mistress’ assets soon sees her supplanted by Marine (again Bale) Frontin’s handpicked accomplice. Throw in to the mix a drunken Marquis (Mark Huisman), a wife (Nichola Lawrence) confined to the Provinces and a social occasion that puts to shame any awkward family dinner you may have experienced and the scene is set for the veritable collapse of this house of cards. The climax is an uproarious frenzy of feverish de-masking.
Odyssey creates unique theatre with masked actors, an outdoor set and the use of props to mimic the fractious fragile treachery on stage. The masks and choreography are beautifully done; the former fitted individually to each performer while the latter lends an air of ‘marionette’ styling which lends itself well to the “pretences” at hand. Yet these aspects separate the audience from the actors and make it difficult to connect with the characters. Although the cast performed well – one remains slightly detached without any sense of stand-out performances due to the obscured facials expressions. While the choreography is masterful the execution was distinctly more successful by some – the delightful Alana Bale in particular – than others.
The Financier is an enjoyable period comedy but it was the overall experience that lingers. The ensemble of the proficient, distinctive cast performance, the costumes, the masks, the set and the open-air setting all come together to create a memorable evening; one to surely add to the summer calendar.
Note: Odyssey Theatre has teamed up with Le Cordon Bleu’s Signatures Restaurant to offer a “picnic & play” option which is highly recommended.
The Financier (Tucaret)
July 24- August 24th
Evenings 8:00PM, Saturday & Sunday Pay-What-You-Can Matinees 3:00PM
Strathcona Park – Range Road & Laurier Avenue