par Yanik Comeau (Comunik Média/ZoneCulture)
Concordia University graduate Michael Martini is presently deploying his interdisciplinary, full-length, multi-layered Landscape Grindr at one of Montreal’s most open creative spaces, La Chapelle. Unsurprisingly, Montréal arts interculturels (MAI) was also involved in helping develop this deliciously devilish “highly personal narrative filtered through reflections on pressing themes: sexual violence, the destruction of nature, and the constant mediation of these concepts through screens”. Landscape Grindr is a no-holds-barred, crazy journey into the twisted (was it always like that or did it become so through outside stimulation?) mind of an aloof, blasé yet tongue-in-cheek theatre artist with an amazing sense of wacked storytelling.
Or is Michael Martini’s narrator/director on-stage persona just a character? I suspect it’s a wicked version of the original. Playing the ominous deity that isn’t in full control of the low-budget DIY production he is mounting, Martini starts the show looking and sounding totally annoyed and pulling the audience into his relaxed, “look-this-is-where-it’s-at/take it or leave it” put-on attitude. The seemingly nonchalantly improvised monologue, dialogue are nothing but: they are brilliantly thought-out, well-written, rich. Funny yet provocative and often scathing, the different scenes/tableaux sneakily send clear, at times poignant messages to the audience through contemporary poetry, savory metaphors.
All five performers are brilliant but it’s hard not to single out Gabe Maharjan’s powerful, moving, heart-on-their-sleeve performance and Justin DeLuna’s hilariously deadpan interpretation of… silence and “other characters”.
Landscape Grindr is highly metaphorical and yet as crystal clear as the brooks and streams it is apparently set next to. Some people might find it a bit too niche but when one just opens his/her/their heart and soul to the truth behind the piece, one can only benefit from being exposed to so many different emotions.
I’m sorry I missed Michael Martini’s first creation Ça a l’air synthétique bonjour hi at OFFTA because this here is an artist I look forward to following for many years to come.
Landscape Grindr Text, direction, video: Michael Martini Video: Casper Wolski, Timothy Thomasson Performance: Gabe Maharjan, Michael Martini, Emma-Kate Guimond, Lenore Claire Herrem, Justin DeLuna Lighting: Darah Miah Lighting aids: Nien Tzu Weng, Trinity McQuillan Production support : Mycelium Translation and creation of surtitles: Elaine Normandeau Promotional visuals: Felix Bonnevie April 11, 13, 14 and 15, 2023 at 7:30pm (duration: 1 hour and 45 minute, no intermission) La Chapelle, Scènes Contemporaines, 3700, Saint-Dominique, Montréal Reservations: 514-843-7738 – www.lachapelle.org Photos: Felix Bonnevie