Marianne Ackerman's Triplex Nervosa

Mile End's good and bad in all its glory

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3 photos
Photo cred – Centaur Theatre

Triplex Nervosa, Marianne Ackerman’s new play at the Centaur, has sold out and extended its run with good reason. It’s a funny, poignant, feel-good play with a cast that seems to be having fun right along with the audience.

It’s set in our own Mile End and deals with ­– strangely, for a comedy – the real estate market. The story revolves around Tass (Holly Gauthier-Frankel), who lives in the wilds of Hochelaga while renting out a Mile End triplex, and her various complications and shenanigans in relation to exploitative tenants, over-invested neighbours, a lovelorn handyman and the police. It is a play that will be most meaningful to native Montrealers, with references not only to the Mile End neighbourhood and to the people that pepper our strange and eccentric city.

Mile End is a place in constant flux, and like the 100-year-old building causing all of Tass’s trouble; it has a tough history but plenty of character. Once a slum, it now houses expensive restaurants and pricey vintage shops along with the cheapest grocery store in the city (PA!). It is my favourite neighbourhood in the city, and Ackerman’s script does it justice.

All the actors do a great job, but Daniel Brochu absolutely stole the play. I’d have happily watched him on-stage for the whole time, and will definitely try to follow his work in the future. The whole cast was a delight, though, and every character was endearingly layered.

My one concern is that many of the comic references to life in our city may not translate to a non-Montreal audience. In fact, some of the funniest jokes to me are ones that most of my non-native Montreal friends wouldn’t get (including a dig at a certain local high school). Still, there is plenty that would translate well: themes of love, grief, artistic pursuits and responsibility abound. The idea of a woman nearing thirty with maxed out credit cards and mounting panic is one that is relatable in our current economic situation.

Patrick Watson’s beautifully moody music is utilized to great effect, as is the simple backdrop of an apartment and our iconic winding outdoor staircases.

In the end, I felt oddly uplifted by the sometimes-dark, often-comical play. It shows us the Mile End (and Montreal) both how it is, and how I wish it could be. I took the 55 bus back to the Mile End, smiling still at the references to the neighbourhood I hold most dear. My body cold (one of those chilly “Spring” nights) but my heart warm, I recommend you see the play while you can.

Location Info: Triplex Nervosa is at Centaur Theatre, 453 St-Francois-Xavier St. Now extended, it runs until May 24.

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