Sargent & Victor & Me

by hellorousseau

(Just a heads up, this is a post for a school assignment~ I’ll be back to my regular ramblings at some point.)

I like baths.

When I was younger, I thought that showers were kind of scary. Like I would slip and fall and break my neck or something. Instead, I opted for baths.

See? Doesn’t this look lovely?

I’d dip beneath the waterline. Pretend I was a sea monster. Imagine I was a mermaid (or any variety of sea creature, really). I’d picture myself in a mighty ocean, a storm above; a calm below.

Baths have always been peaceful for me. They had a way of evenly spreading problems through water, letting them dissipate into steam and suds.

So when I went to see Sargent & Victor & Me this week, one line really stuck with me, “I just wanted to get in the bath and dissolve.”

Sargent & Victor & Me was a one woman play set in Winnipeg around the streets (spoiler alert) Sargent and Victor. The whole thing was beautifully written and performed by Debbie Patterson, a very talented actress who uses her coming to terms with multiple sclerosis as a pillar for the play.

What worked best in the play was the detail that Patterson went into. After the performance, she talked about her interview process, and why the characters were written the way they were.

“90% of what they say is what they said in our interviews,” said Patterson. “10% is manufactured”: and that detail kind of blew my mind.

The fact that she took so much time to transcribe hours and hours of interviews with real people (“Down to their sniffs and breaths”, in Theresa’s instance), and then MEMORIZE those interviews, was mind boggling. As Marc Lagace said in my journalism class, it was kind of like watching a documentary, but it was live.

Plus, it’s super cool at the end when you actually hear overlapping tracks of the interviews, and can pick out certain lines from the play.

As for what didn’t work? Well, it bugged me that almost each and every character was a cliche.

Bob, the gruff, yet lovable, brother of the main character who hates cops and talks like a semi-raspy frat boy. Pastor Giles Mitchell, the wise and kind old man who loves helping people in need, and all of God’s children equally. Theresa (arguably the strongest voice), the tough-as-nails, Aboriginal gang-member whose had nothing but a horrible life.

The stereotypes began to wear on me after a while, and I found myself almost waiting for a racist old woman and then BAM: there she was in the form of Sharon Good.

I’m a huge musical junkie. I’ve seen everything from Chicago, to A Chorus Line, to Legally Blonde: The Musical, on Broadway. I’ve played

Inspector Javert from Les Misérables, Old Deuteronomy from Cats, and was in every single production I could be during my Balmoral Hall years.

Although Sargent & Victor & Me was not a musical, both are similar, live-action stage shows (minus some singing). The slight dancing she did during those newscasts might be considered something sort of musical-esque.

Musicals are typically big, melodramatic productions that seamlessly intertwine beautiful music with intense, emotional acting. That kind of happened during Sargent & Victor & Me whenever music was involved.

The play kind of gave me a different perspective on the West End of the city. Though their personas were mostly acted as cliches, the voices of that neighbourhood really did stand out to me. Their words made me think about serious struggles people have in Winnipeg.

Although I do not have multiple sclerosis or know anyone who has suffered from it, Patterson took a horrible affliction, and channeled it into art that served as a powerful metaphor for the deterioration of the West End.

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