The Last Spartan
by Pierre Brault
60 min / Comedy, Drama / PG
You know there’s something special about an upcoming play when you turn your head and poof, there’s a lineup to the front door. Pierre Brault was in the house. This time in a new work called The Last Spartan.
This is a solo show, but it is not a monologue. I counted at least five different characters having conversations onstage, all coming out of one shifting body. And doing it convincingly, with tone and mannerisms. Of course this is impressive, but technique must support something.
The title was Greek to me (you know I had to fit this in somewhere in the review) but those savvy fans in the audience were quite aware of Pierre’s penchant for the historical. It is set in Sparta during the classic period when Athens was a major threat.
The program notes ask about the importance of art to a society. The setting makes this a practical question. An artistic city state is rising, a militaristic city state is struggling. This paradox opens questions, as does the Spartan solution.
All that’s needed now is comedy, and this play has it in helmetfuls. There’s also a lot of quick wit and philosophical set-ups. “Was I funny?” “Yes…” “Why? Because I was irreverent?” “Yes…” “So, does comedy need irreverence? Is irreverence comedic?” Fun little brain teasers like this are spit out like machine gun rounds.
And right about now, both you and I are wondering, so what? The play answers that question by giving us an experience. A definition is spoken: “Comedy is irreverent.” Then the play becomes irreverent and we start laughing. This is done so subtly that you don’t realize what is happening until it is over.
This is the genius performance those savvy fans came to see. I guess I’m one of them now.
The Last Spartan by Pierre Brault is playing at La Nouvelle Scène Studio A (333 King Edward Ave) until Saturday June 23, 2018. Tickets cost $12. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.