April Fools Segal Centre

Steamy rock star musical April Fools muses on the falling out of a bad romance

The musical by Israeli superstar Keren Peles continues at Segal Centre through May 22.

Originally written in Hebrew by Israeli superstar Keren Peles and based on her own experiences (and her own discography), the English-language debut of 18+ rock cabaret April Fools is on now at the Segal Centre.

The central character in April Fools is Eva, a woman who seemingly has it all. She’s a rock star with a loving husband and kids, but when the handsome and brooding Daniel asks her out for a drink, she suddenly finds herself wanting something new.

The many voices in her head, each their own embodied character in the production, duke it out as she struggles to decide which to follow. Does she play it safe as Doubt and Morality advise her to do, or does she listen to Confidence and Libido, and taste the forbidden fruit?

April Fools Segal Centre review
Eva Foote and Company in April Fools. Photos by Leslie Schachter

Naturally, she chooses the latter, setting the plot in motion like a car speeding towards certain doom.

Daniel is physically attractive but comes with his fair share of baggage, and is a little too interested in married women. The heat of their passion proves to be too much, and their affair goes up in a cloud of smoke. The cracks in their romance, already painfully obvious right from their first encounter, send the whole thing crashing around Eva, and she’s left with nothing but the pieces.

I sympathized with her, getting involved with the kind of man who loves chaos but is sure to disappear the moment he starts getting too caught up in it, but my sympathy could only go so far without getting a better grasp on just what her motivations were. What was it about Daniel (who, if this wasn’t clear, reeked of trouble) that made her willing to give up what seemed to make her so happy before he came around?

The crux of my confusion might also be in Daniel’s characterization. Not to give away too much, but he feels more like a cardboard cutout of a toxic man than an actual believable character with nuance.

Perhaps, given that I did not know who Peles was before reading about this show, I also lacked some background information that would help me understand the character based on her? April Fools was a hit in Israel, but could some of what made that success have been lost in translation?

What the show lacked (for me) in narrative subtlety was tempered by an accomplished performance from Eva as well as all the voices in her head, as they sang and played the music that made up the meat of this cabaret. It was a physically intensive performance, and the actresses pulled it off in tight jeans and high heels, looking fantastic throughout.

The production also has its own phone app to immerse the audience in the story, as Eva’s text and phone conversations are a driving force in the plot. The app mimics the text conversation going on in real-time in the show, so we can watch Eva as she types out a message, backtracks and tries out a few different responses before settling on the one she sends.

April Fools Segal Centre review
April Fools continues at Segal Centre through May 22.

It’s a clever idea, but it didn’t always work well for me. It sometimes lagged quite a bit or jumped ahead of the story, so by about halfway into the show I had basically abandoned it. The text conversation is also displayed on a screen above the stage, so I followed along with that instead.

At its heart, it’s a story about someone trying to sort through what is expected of her, what is imposed on her as a woman in society, and what she really wants in life. This is something that I can get behind.

Yet I left feeling about the play the same way I did about the app: a good concept, but something was preventing me from fully enjoying it. I simply was not convinced enough to be able to suspend my disbelief when I saw such an ill-suited couple fall for each other. ■

For tickets and more about April Fools, please visit the Segal Centre website.

For more Montreal arts coverage, please visit the Arts & Life section.