LILIESBy Michel Marc Bouchard
Translation by Linda Gaboriau
Bath House Cultural Center
Directed by Ned Record
Scenic Design – Ellen Doyl Mizener
Lighting Design – Jen Kules
Costume Design – Hillari Paulk
Intimacy Choreographer – Ashley H. White
Vocal Arrangements – Ian Mead Moore
Producers – Robin Benson Linek and Gordon Kelly
General Manager – Dhyana Colony Smith
Technical Director – Jeff Mizener
Simon in 1952 – Tim Bubel
The Student/Baroness de Hüe – Allen Dean
Countess Marie-Laure de Tilly – Shawn Gann
Father Saint-Michel/Baroness de Hüe – Michael Johnson
Bishop Bilodeau – Seth Johnston
Mademoiselle Lydie-Anne de Rozier – Sheridan Monroe
Simon Doucet in 1912 – Ian Mead Moore
Count Vallier – Alfredo Tamayo
Reviewed Performance: 6/1/2018
Reviewed by Carol St George, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
It’s all about layers, this ground-shifting play, the first major success by Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard, premiering in 1987 and later translated into English by Linda Gaboriau. “Lilies” is layers upon layers of theater, in which Bouchard builds a metatheatrical maize with his brilliant, poignant, and complex script. In the opening scene, what Bishop Bilodeau expects to be a private meeting becomes a play within a play, as Simon instead brings a group of fellow prisoners to re-enact a play once attempted long ago when Bilodeau, young Simon (Ian Mead Moore), and Count Vallier (Alfredo Tamayo) attended a boys school. The audience is then taken back to the provincial town of Roberval in 1912, as the prisoners assume roles as school boys and begin rehearsing “The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian” by D’Annunzio. All this is staged for Bilodeau, and Simon forces him to watch it, with the intent of extracting revenge for his wrongful imprisonment and, ultimately, the truth. We, too, are watching, aware that within the play we’re attending is a play about a play.
Except that the scenes from “Saint Sebastian” are homoerotic and too much to bear for Bilodeau, just as they were too scandalous for the rural, homophobic Roberval in 1912. But bear it he must, and the prisoners don’t stop with the play, but continue re-enacting the events surrounding it and reveal the suppressed love entanglements of Bilodeau, Simon, and Vallier, and the culpability of Bilodeau in the tragedies that ensue.
The tortured, doomed love of Simon and Vallier carries the emotional weight of the story. Moore as Simon and Tamayo as Vallier eloquently deliver the repressed, and at times expressed, passion at the heart of the play. Indeed, every character hides a truth, be it love, loss or violence, using theater as the veil. Yet theater exists to reveal the truth. And so it does.
As the events of 1912 are revived on stage, the power of theater compels Bilodeau to enter the play and finish the story himself. Thus he uncovers the guilt and sin behind his façade.
The ensemble of prisoners-as-actors is a tight-knit group. Within its ranks, both Sheridan Monroe as Mademoiselle Lydie-Anne de Rozier and Shawn Gann as Countess Marie-Laure de Tilly wholeheartedly embrace their characters, commanding the stage at nearly every turn. The rest of the ensemble, Allen Dean as the Student and Baroness de Hüe, Seth Johnston as Bilodeau, and Tim Bubel as Simon in 1952 honorably contribute to the cohesion of the characters. But the production could have achieved more power had Bubel’s Simon been more convincing in his rage and Johnston’s Bilodeau more authentically moved by his epiphany.
The set design is appropriately sparse, as it would be with the prisoners’ lack of resources. The costumes by Hillari Paulk are equally realistic as makeshift outfits.
Director Ned Record keeps the action moving along, but following the role-shifting of the characters proved challenging for the audience and may have added to the production’s sense of length (nearly 105 minutes without intermission).
Still, Record, cast, and crew are to be commended for the herculean task of bringing Bouchard’s revelatory play, which demands much from both actors and audience, to the stage for its North Texas premiere. Record said his intent was to let “the beautiful language and story drive this powerful show.” He does achieve that, because there is tremendous depth and beauty in Bouchard’s script, which alone is worth the price of admission.
Bath House Cultural Center
May 31 – June 9, 2018
June 7 – 7:30 PM
June 8 – 7:30 PM
June 9 – 7:30 PM
For tickets and more information: