This week, I was sent to Montreal for my day job.  Which is amazing, because while I had to do actual work once in a while, I also got to walk around and feel nostalgic about the city that I got to call home for almost 8 years.

It probably didn’t help that work took me to my good old campus, which made me feel very old indeed.

For those of you who haven’t been to Montreal in the dead of winter: it’s kind of cold.  The kind of cold that prevents you from taking off your mittens and taking photos.  And anyway, those pictures would be washed out by the beautiful but not-so-photogenic whiteness of the snow. [Although I just saw Karen’s stunning photos of ice-encased flowers, so I probably just haven’t figured out the secret to snow and cold shooting.]

Snow on Mont-Royal

Most of my weeknights were spent catching up with friends, sick in bed, or snuggled up watching the wondrous Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan for the third time in The Trip (Best movie ever. Or of 2011, at the very least.)

On Saturday, as a birthday celebration of sorts, my mother took me and my brother to see Orphelins, the current production playing at the most exciting theatre in Montreal, La Licorne.  It was great to be back in that place after their year of renovations: cool and clean (and a much better use of the space).

La Licorne theatre, Montreal

We sat in the front row, from where we could smell the rice they ate and catch every little wince or moment of suppressed panic to cross the actors’ faces.

Évelyne Rompré, Étienne Pilon, and Steve Laplante. Photo by Suzanne O'Neil

It’s a play that keeps your guts in its fist and your head juggling your priorities and morals.  Translated by Fanny Britt, Dennis Kelly’s play begins when Liam  interrupts his sister’s romantic evening, his sweater covered in blood, his hands shaky, and his attention darting.  As the story unfolds, it slowly dawns on us and the characters how that blood actually got there and by that time it may be too late to call the cops.

It’s a tough piece, filled with questions of what you’d do if…, unfinished thoughts and sentences, and proof that things aren’t so clear cut, black or white, good or evil.

I made it clear to my brother what I would do should he turn up at my place covered in blood.

5 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MONTREAL

1- The new door chimes in the metro (subway) sound like the first three chords of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  And the sound the train makes when it leaves sounds like the beginning of the Star Wars theme thing.

2- Croissants.

Breakfast in Montreal is better than breakfast anywhere else.

3- My friends are there and they like to go out for a quiet pint of local beer (Brutopia), rent The Trip at the local video store (Passport video), or have brunch (La Petite Marche, Le Figaro).

4- The Biodome. Penguins!

5- The theatre here is daring and dark and there’s lot of it. [The French theatre, that is.  We’re still working on the English side of things.]

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