Ogre: Eric Chalifour’s tour de force

There had been talk of the puppet, its unusual size. It was also recalled that the text of Larry Tremblay was prophetic, since it gave voice to a character whose narcissism – not to mention the meanness – refers to the world of reality. In the end, however, much of the mark left by the Ogre play, produced by Theater La Rubrique and La Tortue Noire, stems from the performance of actor Éric Chalifour.
P uring the clearer the light show for the first time Thursday at the Salle Pierrette-Gaudreault in Jonquière, he sits behind a table where live different objects. You hardly notice his presence, especially that the first minutes are spent in the dark. It is impossible, however, to escape the clutches of his voice. It is the only one that is heard over the monologue directed by Dany Lefrançois.

“I have something to say to you,” says Ogre. Speaking to his wife nicknamed Orang-utan, his daughter and a mysterious woman, as well as his son who is about to show his first feature film, he is mushy, charming, boastful, hateful and pathetic in his desire to bring everything back to him. We hear her mentioning her participation in a TV show that, nourished by her megalomaniac spirit, becomes a series stretching over more than one season.

The arrival of the puppet adds a monstrous dimension to the affair. To the enormity of his words is superimposed that of his flesh thrilled by sinister designs. He imagines himself in a bath with the young woman, flirting with his daughter, destroying the work of his son. The actors (Vicky Cote, Marilyne Renaud, Martin Gagnon) who manipulate his head, his limbs, become his toys. He caresses them, crushes them, repels them as if they were figurines.

These scenes bear witness to the originality of the treatment of the text, just like the last minutes of the show where a spectacular turnaround takes place, the narrator taking precedence over the puppet. After having encamped the Ogre with a troubling realism, his voice sticking to the character’s mood changes, Eric Chalifour delivers the philosophical testament of a man who knows what is expected of him in the era of the ego absolute: “Smiles, anecdotes, opinions”.

Present Thursday, Larry Tremblay warmly welcomed this production, which, no doubt, deserves to exist long and radiate far from here. The public, numerous, manifested themselves with an equivalent enthusiasm, which augurs well for the third and last representation offered Saturday, at 19 h 30. As for the first official, it will take place next summer, on the occasion of the International Festival of Puppetry Arts in Saguenay.

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