Review: 7 Days In The Life Of Simon Labrosse (Théâtre Excentrique)

theatrerexcentriqueVenue: Creative Space 99 (Darlinghurst NSW), May 18 – 29, 2016
Playwright: Carole Fréchette (translated by Kris Shalvey)
Director: Anna Jahjah
Cast: Cassady Maddox, Steve McGrath, Gerry Sont
Image by Emma Lois

Theatre review
Simon Labrosse is a talented man, but he has trouble making a living out of his many skills. He tries hard to market himself, giving out samples of the services he can provide, and although he convinces everyone of his abilities, none are willing to pay for his expertise. Labrosse is an artist of sorts; what he does is not strictly scientific, mathematical or easily commodifiable, but he has much to contribute to society. The economy, however, does not recognise his unquantifiable efforts and rejects him, judging him worthless and a burden. Carole Fréchette’s play is about the problems we face as communities of modern capitalism, unable to embrace parts of our humanity that cannot be monetised.

The production is beautifully designed, with the audience situated inside Labrosse’s home. His bed is in the middle of the space, and action takes place all around us. Our view can get obstructed at times, but the constant relocation of activity is exciting and an effective mechanism for maintaining high energy levels. Anna Jahjah’s direction is free and humorous, delivering a work that feels unrestrained and exhilarating. The short scenes are punchy and surprising, full of whimsy with lively characters each appealing in their own way. It is a tightly rehearsed cast, cohesive in style and delightfully engaging. Gerry Sont plays Labrosse, wistful but optimistic, with a pleasing vibrancy that elicits our curiosity and empathy. A greater dose of melancholy would probably give the show a little necessary gravity to have its themes resonate stronger, and for its ideas to stay in our minds longer. Supporting players Cassady Maddox and Steve McGrath create a range of eccentric personalities that make the show unpredictable and give it a consistent buoyancy, while in the process leaving excellent impressions for their versatility and comic timing.

7 Days In The Life Of Simon Labrosse is a light-hearted take of a sad situation. The privatisation of everything in Australia seems boundless, with every annual budget revealing less and less support for those of us whose talents are incongruous with the reductive demands of capitalism. Simon Labrosse shows us all that he is capable of, but he is situated inside an economy that wants him to be simpler and more ordinary so that they can provide a place for him just like everybody else’s. It is the job of capitalism to turn everything and every person into a measurable and sellable unit, and in the process, risk the removal of everything that we know to be the best of human nature. In the seven days that we meet our protagonist, he keeps on trying but does not give up his true essence; we see him fail repeatedly and wonder how he can make things work. We have a collective part to play in allowing his potentials to blossom, but we wonder if what he can give in return will cost too much.