On Stage: Human Cannon, Harlem Duet & Halloween

A spotlight on what’s happening in English-language theatre, dance and performance this week.

The National Theatre School’s graduate production of Human Cannon.
Photo by Maxime Côté.

It’s your last chance to catch the National Theatre School’s production of Human Cannon, British playwright Edward Bond’s story of one woman’s courage in the face of Spanish fascism in the 1930s. The graduate class production, directed by Alan Dilworth, showcases rising local theatrical talents in a poetic and politically timely piece. To Oct. 27, Monument National, Studio Hydro-Québec (1182 St-Laurent), 7:30 p.m., $9

The Black Theatre Workshop’s production of Djanet Sears’ Harlem Duet opens this weekend. This tense prequel to Othello, set in 1960s Harlem, follows what happens when Othello leaves his first (black) wife Billie for the white Desdemona. Lucinda Davis, who plays Billie in the production, says, “I love the fact that it’s a love story and it’s political, and I think it’s wonderful that we’re doing a Canadian play, back in Montreal.”

“The first time I came across Harlem Duet was four years ago when Black Theatre Workshop actually did a public reading,” she told me at the play’s press preview. “At the reading I was playing Alma, and I was entirely enchanted and mesmerized by Billie and what a beast of a role she was, so four years later it’s my dream to finally get to do it.”

Sears’ award-winning and script is both moving and politically charged, and the play promises to be one of the highlights of the fall theatre season. To Nov. 11, Segal Centre (5170 Cote-Ste-Catherine), 8 p.m. $25

Also opening this week is Infinithéâtre’s world premiere of playwright Alyson Grant’s Trench Patterns, the story of a female soldier wounded in Afghanistan and her return home. Directed by Guy Sprung, the production features a strong cast, including Patricia Summersett as soldier Jacqueline, and it explores the timely issue of soldiers’ healing and reintegration into society after service. To Nov. 18, Bain St-Michel (5300 St-Dominique), 8 p.m., $10-20

Jacquelin van de Geer. Photo by Felix Bowles.

The Phémomena Festival is still going strong, with a few last eerie events planned for this week. There are still two more nights to catch Pourquoi Jamais’ show Erika Weisz Disparue, about the disappearance, in the 1930s, of the titular German illusionist. Oct. 25 – 26, Sala Rossa parking lot (4848 St-Laurent), 7:30 p.m., free, cancelled in case of rain

Tonight, Oct. 25, you can catch the last show of the festival’s free Transductive Bodies series, Jacqueline van de Geer’s The Sleepwalker, a “Dadaist and expressionist” performance featuring marionettes, song and sleepwalking, followed by an open mic round-up by Pascal-Angelo Floramore. Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent), 10 p.m., free

Finally, as we get closer to the ghoulish season, there are numerous Halloween-themed theatrical productions being staged around town, for both grown-ups and kids. Tim Burton’s stop-motion classic The Nightmare Before Christmas is being staged live with a 15-piece orchestra, with benefits from the performance going to the St. Columba after-school and community lunch programs. Oct. 28, Westmount Park United Church (4695 de Maisonneuve), 3 p.m., $15-20

If grown-up films are more your style, the Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween Ball continues its long run of louche participatory theatre, where you can dress up as your favourite movie character and sing and dance along with the cast. Oct. 26, 27 and 31, Imperial Theatre (1430 Bleury), 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., $18-20

And if you really want to freak yourself out, head to Macabre and Supernatural, staged vignettes from masters of horror including Stephen King, Clive Barker and Alexander Pushkin. Oct. 28, Bain St-Michel (5300 St-Dominique), 8 p.m., $5/PWYC

Stay tuned to Cult MTL for more information about upcoming Halloween parties, shows and events. ■

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