Whatever drew the young Montréal-based C’est juste lundi collective to the iconic 1970s Charlie’s Angels TV series is an unstated mystery. But the recent off-kilter presentation of Les Angèles: ces derniers bleus is such an overstuffed playhouse of activity that you can’t treat it too seriously, or probe too deeply.
There’s no weighty bombast, no dark heavy contenders here; the tone is tongue-in-cheek. The group’s whimsical, comic approach to the abundant theme of angels also delivers an attention to seventies details (from rotary phone to wheel-in television set to goldfish in the base of a glass lamp). It’s amusing and cartoonish, and if you gravitate to angels, you’ll be in heaven. As the co-choreographers Pierre-Marc Ouellette (Le Show Off) and Hinda Essadiqi (El Fin Del Infinito, Un jardin de porcelaine), along with Karina Champoux and Emmanuelle Bourassa Beaudoin, both from the Dave St. Pierre and Danièle Desnoyers stable of performers (Bourassa Beaudoin is also the group’s artistic director), fuse their talents, they get prime inspiration from Farrah Fawcett and her gal pals. I’d never watched the original TV show, but I certainly understood the premise: kick-butt action and sexy moves by big-haired starlets. But it’s not only Hollywood fantasy on their minds; a versatile mix of sounds blends doses of radio phone-in show exchange (spiritual psychologist Doreen Virtue’s “Angel Therapy”), some Bobby Helms (“You Are My Special Angel”), plus Québécois kitsch in the form of Angèle Arsenault’s hit, “C’est juste lundi, Angèle” a song by Plume Latraverse, and some audio from Dominique Michel. If “Name That Tune” is on your mind, it was on mine too.
The overarching theme is the lack of heroes (or the rise of the anti-hero) in our culture, although I wouldn’t have necessarily made that connection, if I had not read the program notes. Is that why in one scene we get dancers in Stanfield’s long johns instead of pro-forma superhero tights?
The cast delivers moves decked out in seventies polyester glory: Ouellette in red jumpsuit, kicking things off with a sexy solo disco dance (eventually spelling out A-N-G-E-L-S); Essadiqi in a fine, funny section as a spacey gal with a sexy walk (a mix of a showgirl saunter and loose, swinging hips), equipped with pen, notebook and animal-print leggings; or Bourrassa Beaudoin standing in front of a fan, her abundance of hair swinging in the wind. You can’t fault the collective’s palpable enjoyment performing together; and even though it’s a light confection, it’s also an unobjectionable fun frolic with a couple of inspired moments. Seventies chic aside though, I think pumping a little more depth into this piece would have gone a long way in helping the audience connect with the material. And it would have made some us that much more excited about this angelic romp.