For The Record – Olivier Choiniere’s Bliss

About: Four Wal-Mart employees, obsessed with celebrity, breathlessly recount minute details of Céline Dion’s life. What begins with a rapturous account of Dion’s farewell Montreal concert before taking to her bed to have her child, disintegrates into lascivious tabloid speculation. At the same time, these menial workers also savour every horrific fact about the sad life of Isabelle Cote, a real life young woman from Sherbrooke, sexually brutalized by her father and brothers.

Strengths: An intriguing, if disturbing premise, solid acting, directing and theatrical values. A fascinating exploration of voyeurism and schadenfreude as the stories begin to twist around each other.

Weaknesses: The script does tend to bog down into obscure surrealism at the end. The role of the Oracle, the one Wal-Mart employee who tries to keep a reality check on the musings of her colleagues, could have been beefed up.

Other: This production introduced an excellent new playwright from Quebec. It also showed the immense importance of SummerWorks, where the production first saw the light of day in English Canada. Kudos to BIBT artistic director Brendan Healy for programming Bliss.

Bliss by Olivier Choinière, (Translated by Caryl Churchill), Candles Are For Burning/Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, (starring Delphine Bienvenu, Jean Robert Bourdage, Trent Pardy and France Roland, directed by Steven McCarthy), Mar. 27 to Apr. 8, 2012