It's not often someone gets the opportunity to see something legendary take place. Robert Lepage's 887 is just that: a theatrical spectacle that is sure to be one that goes down in the history books for its impeccable design and touching personal performance, gracing the Canadian Stage once again, back by popular demand.
Robert Lepage, writer, director, designer, and performer extraordinaire, creates a dazzling piece of autobiographical theatre about his life growing up in 1970s Quebec, discussing all things from his childhood to his career, and the way our memories work and change throughout our lives.
Lepage walks you through his memories of growing up in his apartment on 887 Murray Ave. in Quebec using a literal depiction of this apartment as a "memory palace," which comes to life like magic as the people inside move and change throughout the show, bringing his memories to life.
The masterful design is created by Lepage and his company Ex Machina, alongside the creative direction of Steve Blanchet, music and sound design by Jean- Sébastien Côté, lighting design by Laurent Routhier and image design by Félix Fradet-Faguy. In true Lepage fashion, the spectacle is executed with such a degree of finesse that I couldn't help but audibly whisper "wow" to myself several times as he manipulated the stage to take you on his autobiographical journey.
The humble beginning of this production starts with Lepage on stage simply having a conversation with the audience, describing his inspiration for the production and setting up the origins of where his story begins – with memory.
The audience members are seamlessly slipped into the show as he operates his moving set using his cell phone to reveal a screen. Then, Lepage unveils a scale model apartment building and introduces all the occupants who live there. A word of advice, you'll definitely want to get close to the stage and see the incredible attention to detail for yourself. The set design continually blew my mind with its clever and ever-changing scenery, complete with moments of live footage where Lepage provides a closer look at the impressive set and its secrets, allowing for moments that feel intimate and personal, and scenes that transcend reality.
With the show being about Lepage's life in Quebec, 887 at its core feels proudly French Canadian, which is refreshing and resonant to watch; the personal history and events described are ones that any Canadian can relate to.
Although the show is presented in English, it is filled with beautifully integrated moments where Lepage speaks French, adding to the authenticity of his storytelling. In many ways his personal story feels relatable and lands with audiences as almost a collective memory, told with the perfect amount of humour, poetry and enticing physicality.
By the end of the show you will undoubtedly feel like you've just traveled in time and back again from the streets of Quebec, already wishing you could see it all over again.
877 is running until April 16 at the Bluma Appel Theatre. For more information, visit www.canadianstage.com.