REVIEW: “Encore” explores seduction and relationships

Can indifference ruin a relationship? How can a relationship grow, if neither person makes the time to nurture the bond with one another?

Following the overwhelming success of Blackout: the Concordia Computer Riots, Tableau d’Hote Theatre continues on their season’s theme of “Longing to Remember, Refusing to Forget”.  This season closes with a bilingual (world-premiere) adaptation of Marc Prescott’s Encore, an intimate two-actor play that explores the stages of a relationship throughout milestone anniversaries (Paper, wood, tin, china, silver, gold—the first fifty years of marriage). Encore explores the evolution of a relationship between lovers, and issues that can appear throughout a relationship. Encore shows how external factors, personal projecting, lack of communication and more can test, wreak havoc and even destroy the most perfect of relationships.

The two characters, only known as Madame (played by Tania Kontoyanni) and Monsieur (played by Matthew Kabwe), have made it an annual tradition to re-enact their first encounter. During this encounter, Madame has given Monsieur ten minutes to seduce her upon their first meeting. A scripted seduction, the two actors not only seduce each other, but their charm and chemistry also extends outwards to charm the audience as well. As years go on and the couple strive to re-enact this first meeting each anniversary, memories of that first meeting fade, while other personal problems and relationship issues become increasingly apparent. Encore demonstrates the meaningful value of seduction through knowledge and intelligence, looking to create a meaningful connection as the first step of any relationship. This includes cultural knowledge, sense of humour, storytelling, poetry and charm towards developing a true, meaningful and lasting relationship.

The two actors featured in this play, Tania Kontoyanni (Madame) and Matthew Kabwe (Monsieur) produced a relationship chemistry that was infectious to the audience. Kabwe’s approach to love was charming, honest, and sincere, together with Kontoyanni’s deeply emotional and mature performance, captivating audiences from start to finish. The few comedic moments were tasteful and refreshing. The moments of stress, burnout and indifference felt very real. These moments were especially impactful through the bond already developed with the audience.

Tableau d’Hote’s stellar production of Encore captivated the audience from start to finish. The evolution from what seemed to be the idea of a perfect relationship at the start of the show, unravelled gradually while both characters tried to hold a relationship together. Kontoyanni and Kabwe were a delight to watch on stage and connected with each person in the room

The music added by solo violinist Jacob Burtenshaw was outstanding, adding an extra level of romance and passion to the production. Playing acoustically throughout the entire performance, the music was just the right volume, and the approach to the music compositionally was ideal for this type of production.

Tableau d’Hote Theatre and Director Liz Valdez take a unique approach to Encore, staging it in the very intimate Mini-Main, with an impressive and innovative approach to set design and projections by Jaclyn Turner and Frédéric St-Hilaire.

Although this show is being performed as a French-English bilingual premiere, anyone with even the most basic understanding of French can enjoy this show, as most of the production is in English.

Encore is a very important and meaningful lesson in nurturing long-term relationships, a refreshing approach to authentic connections and intelligent seduction, and Tableau d’Hote Theatre’s unique approach to production is a treat for any theatregoer.

Encore runs until May 19 at Mainline Theatre’s Mini-Main. Tickets are available at https://tableaudhote.ca/encore or by calling 514-849-3378

About Beth McKenna

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