Touchstone Theatre
Mimi: or A Poisoner’s Comedy By Allen Cole, Melody A. Johnson and Rick Roberts

Dates and Venue 3 - 7 November 2010 (Tues - Sat 8pm: Sat & Sun 2pm) at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and 10 - 20 November at the Firehall Arts Centre

Director Katrina Dunn Musical Director Steven Greenfield Set Design David Roberts Lighting Design Gillian Wolpert Costume Design Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh Choreographer Katrina Dunn Fight Choreographer Joshua Reynolds Production Manager Adrian Muir Technical Director Elisha Burrows Lighting Operator Gavin Somers Stage Manager Marijka Asbeek Brusse

Reviewers Cassie Silva

What would you say if I told you I have learned a secret that will allow you to be good, and bad at the same time?

Touchstone Theatre introduces Mimi: A Poisoner’s Comedy, a delightful historical romp that debuted last year at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, to the West Coast for its premiere performance run.

This musical mockumentary is based on real-life murders committed in the 1600’s by the French noble-woman Marie-Madeleine-Marguerie d’Arbray, Marquise de Brinvillers. The hilarious opening number brings whole new meaning to the term “coitus interrupt-us” when Mimi’s father becomes witness to his daughter’s debauchery. He threatens to cut her off financially if she doesn’t reform her behaviour, and so she attempts the difficult task of “becoming good,” performing such acts of community service as cooking pigeon pie for a beggar with no arms and no legs, aptly named ‘Torceaux.” Her lover comes up with the idea to add poison to her pies, to do away with the people who stand in the way of their selfish happiness.

I overheard several audience members comparing the show to Sweeney Todd due to the obvious similarities in subject matter, but such a comparison would be unfair. The lyrics may not be quite as memorable as Todd’s, but the dialogue is far wittier and more tongue-in-cheek.

The six actors played many different roles, and donned multiple wigs, that it was difficult at times to know which actor was portraying each character. This was slightly overwhelming for a reviewer attempting to sort-out who was who from their lobby display photo, but perfect for an audience member who wishes to suspend their disbelief and enjoy the introduction of each new character without wondering why Mimi’s maid also happens to be her deceased mother.

Jennifer Lines delivered an outstanding performance as Mimi, and Peter Jorgensen was superb as her love-interest Ste. Croix. Sanders Whiting pleased the crowd as Mimi’s over-accommodating husband, and Linda Quibell was masterful in her multiple roles including Mimi’s Mother and maid Francoise. While Donald Adams performed his role of Mimi’s father D’Aubrey well, it was his role as the detective Desgrais that really delighted. Greg Armstrong-Morris stole the show, first as the hilarious Italian exile, who had plenty of wisdom to share from his Mama, then as the beggar Torceaux, who was on stage briefly but whose hilarious facial expressions kept us in stitches the entire scene.

The incredibly talented Design Team, including multiple Jessie award-winning Set Designer David Roberts, paint a picture so magnificent that if I could frame the production, take it home and put it on my wall, I would. From the costumes, to the set and the lighting, the show would be a vision to behold even without the addition of extremely strong acting, and delightful musical talent under the direction of Jessie award-winning Musical Director Steven Greenfield. Director Katrina Dunn says that the show “has been a joy to work on, and is a wonderful addition to the canon of Canadian musical theatre works.”

Mimi was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. If it’s also unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, the good news is that you still have a chance to see it.

Although one would expect characters that commit such atrocious crimes for selfish reasons to be unlikeable, the opposite was true for me.

The End. Or, as they say in Paris – C’est fini.

© 2010 Cassie Silva