Review by Michael Nesbitt
In the heart of the Evangeline region, the last thing one would expect to find is an English-language dinner theatre. At Le Village in Mont Carmel, La Cuisine à Mémé makes that option available with its production of Coming Home.
This is the second year in a row that La Cuisine has added an English show to its traditional summer schedule, staging it Tuesdays and Fridays at 7 pm through to the Labour Day weekend. The three-act show is a translated version of last year's French presentation, giving the performers the opportunity to bring it to a different audience.
"I love getting back to the English versions," says actor Wayne Robichaud. "Who are you trying to sell to? You sell to those who don't already have it!" he explains regarding the appeal of serving a slice of Acadian culture to English audiences.
Portraying that culture in English does have a cost, however, in that the humour usually generated by the Acadian contrast with standard French is lost and the irony of a Mayor of Mont Carmel or St. Timothée Television is easily overlooked by those not familiar with the region.
Written and directed by Paul D. Gallant, Coming Home wraps a humourous façade around the difficult reunion of Mémé (Diane Racette) and her worldly sister Évangéline (Velma Fortune) who had fled the hometown years before. Both women have become famous in their own right but harbour jealous resentment towards each other.
The characters highlight the dichotomy between the shell and the core of the piece: the unpredictable Mayor, Gélas Richard (Robichaud) draws huge laughs as he tries to manage his stress and attempts to maximize his opportunities with reporter Edwina Deveau (Jolene Sonier), while Annette Richard (Caroline Bernard) is more somber, acting as peacemaker between the muted Mémé and Evangeline and ensuring her father maintains an even keel. The bridge is the incomprehensible exchange student Biomi Lavisilopostitusivilidi (Adrien Aucoin) who understands little of either theme.
Ten musical numbers are included in Coming Home, including three originals by Gallant. The music strongly reflects the Acadian base of the theatre and includes French and English lyrics as well as instrumental numbers. Eight of the songs are performed in a single set at the end of the show to evident audience appreciation. Tickets for Coming Home are available at the Le Village box office, 854-2227.