At last, a play about YOLO

A new Persephone Productions production asks a fundamental question: Is it better to live life recklessly or play it safe?

Lost: A Memoir

Lost: A Memoir asks a fundamental question: Is it better to live life without regard for risk or to take the safe route? The one-woman production follows suburban wife Cathy Ostlere as she figures out why her adventuresome brother David has disappeared on a self-captained sea voyage between Ireland and Madeira.

“She traces his steps looking for clues,” director Christopher Moore says. “During the journey, she learns about herself and who she used to be compared with who she is now. She used to be the traveler, and then settled down and lived vicariously through David.”

The work began as a series of poems that evolved into memoir, which in turn was adapted into a play in 2010 by Ostlere and Dennis Garnhum. Karine Dion, who plays Cathy says, “The story pulls on the heartstrings. It’s a true a story, and you don’t forget that. You’re acting, but you’re telling what Cathy lived through. There’s a heaviness in remembering that.”

Both Moore and Dion identify with the themes of the play. “As an artist, I feel like I live vicariously through the plays that I do and the artists that I know and the art I experience. It takes me on journeys. But I don’t travel or get out much. It’s not that I don’t have an interest, but I focus on my work,” Moore says. “Through this play, you realize how easily things can go. You realize how easily you can slip away to monotony or the afterlife and haven’t really lived.”

Dion also connects to the theme. “I spent years traveling,” she says. “It becomes addictive and a huge part of your life. You get restless when you’re not doing it and you’re always waiting for next new place to discover. And then, of course, I had two children, and started my family. You say goodbye to traveling at that point. But that restlessness, that feeling is there. All those things that were amazing and inspired you and fed your soul, you forget about that. You hunker down. You start doing the 9-to-5 grind or conform to a family life.”

She adds, “You have to remember yourself in the mix and remember what’s important in life. It’s important not to let days, weeks and months slip by and not live life to the fullest.”

Both Moore and Dion see this production as a bit of a personal risk, in accordance with Persephone Productions’ mandate to support emerging artists.

“I have very little experience with one-person shows,” Moore says, “I am used to different opinions and voices to bounce ideas off of. Now, it’s just us in the room, hoping we get it right.”

For Dion, the production represents a return to the stage after an absence. “I’m a re-emerging artist,” she says, “I moved back to Montreal from Toronto three years ago. It’s strange coming back and you don’t know anybody. It’s like walking into a room of strangers.”

The two are pleased that they can bring a production about questioning one’s life path to different places around Montreal. Moore says, “Our show in St-Lambert has been sold out for over a week now. It’s clear that there are areas on and around the island that are craving some exposure to the arts. They may not be getting it and want it.” ■

Lost: A Memoir is at John Abbott College’s Casgrain Studio (21275 Lakeshore) from April 5–7, the Centre multifonctionnelle de Saint-Lambert (81 Hooper) on April 12, Victoria Hall in Westmount (4626 Sherbrooke W.) from April 13–14 and Espace 4001 (4001 Berri) from April 19–21, $20/$15 students

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