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Du 6 au 18 novembre 2007

Dating Jesus

Texte : Louise Arsenault
Mise en scène : Paul Hawkins

Avec : Laura Mitchell, Debra Kirshenbaum, Janis Kirshner and Taylor Baruchel

A rollicking comedy-drama about a single mother sex-obsessed poet who is looking for salvation while losing her mind.

Montreal playwright Louise Arsenault’s previous plays include Rebels All (NTS), Bivouac (Imago), Innerspeak (Workman Theatre Project, Toronto) and Present Perfect (workshopped with Peter Hinton at Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal). She was also playwright-in-residence at Centaur Theatre.  Ms Arsenault currently teaches English literature at Dawson College.

Set & Costume Design: Sidney Harper
Lighting Design:  Steve Schön
Sound Design: Eduardo Pipman
Stage Management: Bonnie More

Création de Unwashed Grape

November 6 – 18, 2007
Tuesday to Saturday 8:00 p.m.
Matinées: Saturday & Sunday 2:00 p.m.

Theatre Ste. Catherine
264 Ste. Catherine St. East
Box Office:  (514) 284-3939 or


review by Geneviève Germain

Having to cope with mental health issues is not an easy task. Both the person who has to face a mental illness and the people close to him or her have to be ready for challenging situations. In Dating Jesus, playwright Louise Arsenault, along with co-founder of Unwashed Grape Productions Paul Hawkins as Director, uses humor more than drama to portray this touchy subject. Even if the play does mot aim to give any definite answers about how mental illnesses should be treated, it does provide some indications on how someone might act and react while facing such a matter, although some behavior is obviously emphasized.

The story revolves around the main character, Renée, who chooses to stop her medication treating her bipolar tendencies and her psychotic ways because she feels it makes her numb and prevents her from writing. This leads the way to many delusive moments and confrontations with her friends and family. Completely losing control of her single-motherhood to two teenagers, letting her temper show while teaching at university, stalking her psychiatrist she finds attractive, Renée soon becomes a handful to her family and herself.

Laura Mitchell as Renée handles well the exuberant and overreactive ways that her role demands. Along with fellow actress Janis Kirshner as her colourful friend Ocean, the pair give way to many amusing comments and reflections. Renée being lost in her own manic world and Ocean being a softspoken actress who likes to dress up for auditions, their friendship comes out as very odd and comical.

Played by Taylor Baruchel, Renée’s headstrong daughter Gisèle is precursor to the more dramatic side of the play, showing the downside of being raised by an unstable mother. Although the bond between them is clearly established, Gisèle is forced to step away to make her mother understand that her behavior is unbearable. Along with the help of her aunt, Renée’s uptight Westmounter sister Sylvie (Debra Kirshenbaum), she tries to pursue her own life while both confronting and trying to protect her mother.

Dating Jesus offers an honest tale about how it might be living with a mental illness, both from the inside and from the outside. However, parts of the play lack in dramatic impact and appear more lengthy, making the presentation seem uneven. This could also be explained by the fact that numerous events and situations are thrown into the plot without being fully explored, failing to add depth to the story. Overall, Dating Jesus displays good ideas and some dynamic dialogues although it remains rough-edged.