Dépanneurs and Theatre, Together at Last

Théâtre Ste-Catherine’s artistic director Alain Merciera offers the top 5 reasons that theatre and dépanneurs belong together, leading up to the opening of “Maximum Paradise,” the latest installment of his DéPFLIES comedy theatre series

Léa Rondot and Alain Mercieca at Harry’s Dep.
Photo by Danny Belair

Théâtre Ste-Catherine’s artistic director Alain Mercieca loves his local dep so much he wrote a play about it. Asked to sum it up in two sentences plus one simile, Mercieca says DéPFLIES is about:

* “Denizens of a dépanneur who get caught up in their local church’s affairs, only to realize a darker art form is at play.”
* “An atheist who falls in love with the a church-goer, shitty prayers, a Mr. Freeze that aids the birth of a child, a freestyle baptism, paternity leave, a man shower and Ashton Couchetard.”
* “It’s like two lions being used as water skies by Sandi Armstrong.”

DéPFLIES was written mostly by Mercieca, but about 10% of the show is improvised. The play features characters based on real life dep patrons, “compiled from approximately three people each, reduced to a stereotype, then complexities and dynamism added,” says Mercieca. “You take away reason and logic and burn their egos at the stake.”

Here are the top five reasons, according to Mercieca, why deps and theatre go together like plastic straws and juice boxes.

1. See video below. It was filmed at a St-Henri dep while most St-Henri-ites were sleeping instead of buying beer, cigarettes… or juice.

2. “Deps are merely small marketplaces – micro-markets. Were they not so geared to basically corporate, unhealthy food, they would actually be incredible examples of local community businesses.”

3. The unlimited punk rock arthouse community centre potential. “I dream of a world where theatres and bookstores are staples to the community the same way deps are. Every night you run down to the theatre quickly to watch a play the way you pick up some cheese curds, and these dep-theatres are open all night, hovels for the downtrodden artists and poets.”

4. Actors work in deps. Sandi Armstrong (an actor in the play) and another of the play’s producers did. Merciera says he worked in one “in a writer-doing-research kinda way, but the truth is I only have a profound, bookish fascination with these consumer temples. I live in St-Henri and can talk to dep owners long into the night about the horses they used to ride when doing deliveries (seriously). St-Henri is simply the ultimate melting pot of culture: Quebec-Canada-welfare-yuppie-punk-French-English. The St-Henri dep is the only dep in the play, and like the characters, it is an amalgamation of several deps.”

5. Maximum Paradise. “Sandi, Maité [Sinave], Lise [Vigneault] and Heidi (Weeks) are as funny if not funnier than the entire cast of SNL (Agreed -AW). People in Montreal enjoy the bilingual nature of the show, the reasonable ticket price [$12], and the feeling that ‘Hey, life is tolerable, I can laugh and forget everything.’” ■

DéPFLIES is playing at Theatre Ste-Catherine from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5, $12.

Amie Watson is a freelance food and culture writer for EnRoute, the Montreal Gazette, and Midnight Poutine, and writes reviews and dairy-free, gluten-free recipes on her own blog. Follow her @MissWattson.

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