Nothing Lost In Translation
French-language playwright Marc Prescott’s Encore is adapted in English – and it’s still every bit as moving
Relatively unknown by anglophone theatre audiences in Manitoba, Winnipegger Marc Prescott is nonetheless an award-winning French-language playwright, actor and director. Theatre Projects Manitoba is attempting to change this dichotomy with its first production of the 2008-09 season, a translation, by Prescott, of his play, Encore.
Encore focuses on a couple, Sir and Ma’am, who we initially encounter celebrating their first anniversary. In an attempt to never forget their courtship’s first blushes of love or take their love for granted, Ma’am has decided that they should re-enact the script of their first meeting on every anniversary. Sir complies, more out of acquiescence than understanding, and it is here the story begins.
We observe the couple over six anniversaries that span their first to their 50th on which they revisit their first meeting. With this streamlined simplicity, Prescott weaves the story of their lives through better and worse, including the anxiousness of new parenthood, the disinterest of a waning relationship, the bitterness of divorce and, ultimately, the reconciliation of a love that may have been abandoned but was never forgotten. Throughout this process the words of their scripted love remain the same, but their meaning morphs from a means of inclusion to a weapon of separation and back again, while the couple’s roles within it alter.
As the couple, Arne MacPherson and Monique Marcker seamlessly transform throughout this life together. Marcker’s shrill urgency as Ma’am on the first anniversary is both humorous and heartbreaking; she wields their love script like a talisman against future unhappiness. And Sir’s initial bumbling of it is elegantly brought full circle by the end of the play by MacPherson. Both actors embody their characters with the ease of recognition, and while certain plot points may be a bit too obvious (MacPherson’s hockey-watching drunk seems too pedestrian for the story), they carry on with heart-wrenching realism.
The gorgeously simple set offers a wonderful physical manifestation of the couple’s journey; the table and chairs from the lounge where they first met are tugged down a path by the couple, lined at each stop by symbolic representations of each anniversary (crumpled paper for the first anniversary, wood chips for the fifth, fallen leaves for the 50th). The sound of Marcker’s high heel angrily crunching down on broken china is a harrowing echo of the ruin of the couple’s marriage at 20 years,
Director Anne Hodges keeps the actors and the pace on target, allowing the scenes room to breathe but never letting the proceedings lag. We see only brief snapshots of a lifetime of love, pain and transformation, yet these glimpses offer a satisfying and moving window into the relationship of Sir and Ma’am.
Encore is a satisfyingly touching portrayal of a love that weathers the damages inflicted by lovers who, through a lifetime together and apart, finally realize the sanctity of it.
— Barb Stewart