From July 9 to 30, The Segal Centre and Just for Laughs present “What’s in a Name?” an English-language adaptation of Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière’s worldwide hit, “Le Prénom.” Stylishly directed by Jennifer Tarver and aptly translated by Montreal playwright Michael Mackenzie, “Name” is presented in collaboration with the Society of the celebrations of the 375th anniversary of Montreal. It is the only English-language play to honour the 375th anniversary of Montreal’s Fous de théâtre, de la scène à la rue!
Mackenzie has infused “Name” with local references, making it a uniquely Montreal experience. It tells the story of Vincent and Anna, two upscale Mile-Ex hipsters, whose controversial moniker for their unborn son fractures their tidy world and challenges longstanding friendships. The sharp-witted satire is smoothly balanced by heartfelt performances by an engaging and amiable cast: Andrew Shaver, Matthew Gagnon, Pat Kiely, Amanda Lisman and Erika Rosenbaum.
Mobtreal was delighted to chat with Shaver, who stars as Vincent, the self-assured father-to-be.
Mobtreal: Montrealers always seem focused on language. This play suits us, doesn’t it?
Shaver: Actually, I think it’s a pretty universal story. It’s a play that’s been a hit around the world… But I can see what you mean. This is a city that thinks about communication… the right word, the right timing. Montreal is an academic city. The play centres on academics; these are intelligent, witty people who are having fun arguing. They make a sport of their verbal gymnastics.
Mobtreal: There is some suspense about the name chosen, but I don’t think it ruins the fun if you know in advance. (No spoilers here!)
Shaver: No, absolutely not. It’s the mathematics of timing, of setting up a conceit and pushing it to its limit. It’s not a mystery.
Mobtreal: The cast has great chemistry—this is a story about friendship.
Shaver: Absolutely, but you’re also watching the interactions of four distinct personalities. It’s about their reactions, about how they fight. It starts off playful, but with good friends, you know what buttons to push—and what not to push. As the tensions build, they start to say, ‘F— it, I’m pushing that button!’
Mobtreal: I love the touches of Montreal, with Mt. Royal as the backdrop.
Shaver: The play is set half-way between Westmount and Mile-Ex. That’s the balance.
Mobtreal: You know the city well—are you a Montrealer?
Shaver: I am now, but I’ve lived all over the world. I studied theatre for two years in Paris… I’d worked all over… I came back to Montreal in 2002, at the beginning of the city’s reverse exodus. So many people were moving back here.
Mobtreal: I see it in the comedy community; young people moving here from all across Canada.
Shaver: From all over. When friends come from London or Dublin or Paris, they always say what a super cool, dynamic place this is. It’s just a vibe we have… I continue to work all over the world, in French and English, and then I come home.
Mobtreal: The Segal has a wonderful dedication to translating plays.
Shaver: Absolutely! This is a true performing arts centre. I have to say, The Segal Centre been instrumental to my growth as an artist.
July 9 to 30, 2017
The Segal Centre for Performing Arts
5170 Cote Ste. Catherine Rd