Monday, November 25, 2013


The current two week run of the Robert Lepage masterpiece has aged exquisitely. Given huge strides in technology over the past twenty years, and a revamped cast with two actors instead of the solo performance by Lepage himself twenty years ago, this is pure surreal theatrical magic as acrobatic performances have two gifted actors clinging effortlessly to a set that appears to float in mid air. 

Marc Lebreche gives a subtle, charismatic performance as Cocteau and the contemporary artist suffering from romantic and cultural discord and finding infrequent solace in dream like connections to the past struggles of Miles Davis and Jean Cocteau. Wellesley Robertson III creates a gorgeous dance like gestural character that inhabits the set like a formidable ghost commenting silently and seamlessly - by way of extreme physical agility and emotional acuity - upon diverse cultural issues. 

Lepage's script stands up well two decades later as single lines and monologic telephone dialogue comically, poignantly and prophetically reveal the very human struggles of artists trying to gain emotional and material stability in a shaky global environment often divided by language, custom, and an endless thirst for cultural, economic, and social success.

The Ex Machina production team has done it again with magnificent projections, lighting, costumes, and sound design. Not to be missed, Needles and Opium gives us a timely and timeless message regarding the multi-national policing of dreams and the cross-cultural conflicts Canada continues to experience as a frequently and sharply divided country of vast misidentifiable contrasts. 

As Lepage commented in his brief opening night remarks after the performance, Toronto has recently received dubious international attention. Even with the advent of our mayor's surreal escapades, he remarked that it is a city he has always loved - a city he has been away from for far too long, and has now graced us with yet another magnificent example of theatre as profound and engaging spectacle.


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