In Review: TNB’s ‘A Sunday Affair’

Theatre New Brunswick is back with it’s first show of the 2016-2017 season, A Sunday Affair. Telling a story spanning 60 years of the relationship between a small town’s lonely priest (Mathieu Chouinard) and his sole parishioner, an equally lonely woman who’s in love with him (Miriam Fernandes), A Sunday Affair is sure to delight audiences.

Inspired by the classic Beatles song, Eleanor Rigby, and written through collaborative improvisation, A Sunday Affair takes a more positive, feel-good approach to showing us all the lonely people. Focusing heavily upon the routines and daily rhythms of its two characters, the story is often shown visually through variations in repeated actions as the characters and their relationship grows and evolves. Mathieu Chouinard shared his impression of the play, as “a story that is both light and really touching. I think in these troubled times, and even in theatre, there’s a lot that’s really hard with death and tragedies, so it’s like a fresh breath of air. It’s both light and touching, it feels like a Chaplin movie or a Pixar movie.”

A Sunday Affair (Matt Carter)
A Sunday Affair (Matt Carter)

As a minimalist two-person play, A Sunday Affair resonates with a unique visual style that draws all focus onto the nuances of actors themselves, reliant much more on physicality than spoken word and drawing from influences such as Charlie Chaplin and Italian Commedia dell’arte. There are no costume changes, nor are there any props, leading to a level of intimacy between actors and audience.

This requires an exceptional level of acting talent, but it certainly pays off. As Miriam Fernandes explained to us, “The fact that we only use our bodies to tell the story opens up a whole world of imagination for us and the audience, which is fun because it lets us create another type of contact with the audience that you wouldn’t in another play.” The set itself plays into this connection to the audience as well, with TNB’s Open Space Theatre’s up-close stage nearly bare, save for the unique backdrop of dozens of white umbrellas which are set to light in a myriad of colours.

Produced in collaboration with Le Théâtre Populaire d’Acadie, TNB is running shows in both French and English in it’s first fully bilingual production. A Sunday Affair will be showing in Fredericton from October 13th-23rd, before embarking on TNB’s longest tour for a single production in over a decade. Hopes are high for the tour, and it shows promise in extending TNB’s reach across the province, with writer and director Thomas Morgan Jones adding: “What’s exciting about (the tour) is that there’s a lot of new venues, a lot of new relationships.”

A Sunday Affair will be showing in Fredericton at the Open Space Theatre at 55 Whiting Road from October 13th-23rd, after which it will be going on tour. For showtimes, locations, and tickets, visit Theatre New Brunswick’s website.

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