Playwright, Genevieve Adam’s, Deceitful Above All Things is a remarkable first play. Part of the SummerWorks Festival and mounted at the Factory Theatre, the hour and a quarter historical drama is gripping, emotionally honest, well-acted and directed. There isn’t a weak link the chain. Adam also stars in the story of Parisian, Anne De Beauney, who follows the Jesuit priest who impregnated her, to the new world in Quebec in the 1600’s. There’s lots of fire in her passionate pleas to have Father Francois, performed by John Fitzgerald Jay, admit his feelings for her. Jay plays the consummate priest—entirely believable in his piety and torn convictions. The secondary romance—of Adam’s young maid, Marguerite Perron, played by Imogen Grace, with Garret C. Smith as Metis Toussaint Langlois—was equally gripping. The audience could feel the heat between the untamed man of the wilderness and the feisty Parisian beauty.While the plot, historical resonance and dialogue seemed a bit wonky in places, the steamy relationships between the characters more than made up for it. Erin Brandenburg’s direction kept everything running smoothly and tied up all the loose edges. This play moved—thematically, emotionally and theatrically.
Nancy Anne Perrin’s minimalistic set design consisting of heavy wooden tables and projections of the woods on the backdrop, created an atmosphere reminiscent of Arthur Miller’s the Crucible from the same time period. Sarah Wilson, as Madame Etienne, frequently appeared, in her white bonnet, to pass judgment on her less devout, unconventional neighbours, just as Miller’s townsfolk had condemned the Salem witches.
The whole performance had an aura of mystery and foreboding, enhanced by Garret C. Smith’s haunting tinkering on a guitar at the edge of the stage. There was a sense that the outside world was dangerous and anything could happen at any time.This was a production well worth seeing. Deceitful runs until August 15th on the main stage at the Factory Theatre.
The SummerWorks Festival is up at several venues in Toronto until August 16th. Full schedule here – http://summerworks.ca/2015/schedule/