THE BLOODY CLEAN UP, OR THE LAMENTABLE TALE OF MARIE- ANTOINETTE
by Manon Beaudoin
Les Saints in association with Neworld Theatre
Vancouver East Cultural Centre
$20/$15 at 604-280-3311
Manon Beaudoin is best known as a member of the Leaky Heaven Circus troupe. Along with her husband, Colin Heath, and their three children, she has carved out a place for herself as a wacky, offbeat actor of acrobatic physical comedy. The Bloody Clean Up is her first attempt at playwriting and the first production of her new bilingual company, Les Saints.
The play loosely revolves around the decapitation of Marie Antoinette, with Beaudoin playing Queen Marie and Lois Anderson as her severed head, which speaks to the audience anachronistically: “Decapitation is a bit of a downer.” Patti Allan and Camille Gingras play quarreling Siamese twins, both named Simone, who wait on the Queen and await the operation by which the doctor (Robert Perrault) will separate them, an operation which only one of them is likely to survive. One of the Simones has sex with the doctor and both sing a song about their pussies.
Although it functions in the realm of the bizarre and grotesque, The Bloody Clean Up has little in common with Pi Theatre’s recent production of The Invalids, a play about the abject physical vulnerability of the human body, or with Mad Duck’s production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, which graphically stages political executions and severed limbs. The doctor discourses on the existential dilemma—the fact that we all die—and the dead consider all the things they’ll miss. But the script doesn’t look at any length or with any real seriousness at issues of mortality. Politics is entirely absent from it. And despite its title, there is no stage blood nor graphic physical effects. When Marie is beheaded, Beaudoin simply looks down and Anderson’s head pops up through the stage floor.
The tone throughout is gently comic and the pace is very slow. In some ways the show is more about its atmosphere than its narrative. Itai Erdal’s moody lighting, the wonderfully evocative music composed and performed by Joelysa Pankanea (vibraphone, drum, triangle) and Alison Jenkins (clarinet, accordion), Marina Szijarto’s all-white French Revolutionary nightshirt and nightcap costumes, and James Fagan Tait’s quietly deliberate direction all combine to create something more like a tone poem than a play.