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Music, Play, Theatre

The Mid-Life Crisis of Dionysus

Posted by Christine / February 26, 2010

(Attn: Spoilers)
Last Friday, I climbed up MainLine Theatre's dark staircase to witness The Mid-Life Crisis of Dionysus, an original theatre production rife with wine, women and song, written by Jeremy Hechtman and Patrick Goddard.

The theatre, bearing a small stage virtually at floor-level, was jam-packed to the brim with audience members exuding a mood of eagerness mingled with trepidation. A mood that was, perhaps, inspired by the rather risqué, orgiastic image the play's program bears.

When I sat myself down in the front row, slightly to the side of the stage, I would not have guessed that, throughout the play, I would have an uninvited hand sensually glide up my leg, have 'beer' (likely water, though) spit on me, be stepped on and have food thrown in my general direction. Though these things may sound rather unpleasant, they were received with delight; delight at the excitement and baseness of it all.

And that was the whole point, really. The Mid-Life Crisis of Dionysus is both a comedy and a musical, conceived with the intention to illustrate and celebrate the Dionysian lifestyle but also, to include the audience into the debauchery occurring onstage (whether they liked it or not).

The play begins with the proclamation 'Let there be light!' and so, the stage is gradually illuminated the reveal a chorus of conservatively robed men and women. The audience knows this modesty won't last long. Song and dance commence and the men and women disrobe to reveal scantly clad, white costumes evoking a Grecian vibe, well, less Grecian and more Vegas-style Grecian artifice.

Soon after, Dionysus (performed by Paul Van Dyck) makes a dramatic entrance: pale, lithe, and naked, except for a pair of strategically placed grapes, which he would later feed to an audience member.

Dionysus' youthful appearance is deceiving, as it is quickly revealed that he has aged to forty years old. So, shaken at the news of his age, the deity takes it upon himself to travel to Olympus to speak with his father, Zeus, about his dilemma.

For the duration of the adventure, Nick Carpenter's on-point and charismatic piano playing glides the story along seamlessly.

While the group singing could have been better harmonized and solo portions more on key (the rap scene was particularly sub-par), this is clearly a talented cast. Several of them have professional dance training, Molly McGivern in particular can play both the violin and the Mongolian horse-head fiddle, Ulka Simone Mohanty knows Indian classical dance, and Jake Smith is skilled at the clarinet.

Throughout the story, Dionysus finds himself witnessing, or immersed in, a slew of vulgar and comedic situations: a rather invasive medical examination, a food fight, missed calls from various historical figures, tap dancing, and more.

While a number of the jokes were witty, be warned, the humour of this play greatly relies on slapstick, potty humour and 'that's what she said'-style one liners. If you're looking for snappy quips and repartee look elsewhere. After all, what would you expect from the debauched god of wine, inspirer of madness and base instinct?

The Mid-Life Crisis of Dionysus continues through March 6 at MainLine Theatre, 3997 St. Laurent Blvd. Tickets cost $20.

For more information, call 514-849-3378 or visit

Image from MainLine Theatre's official web site:



Andres / February 26, 2010 at 03:22 pm
Happened to be there same night as you, and loved it. It's rare to have quality English musicals in Montreal that are outside of the main venues (Segal, Centaur). This one was funny, contemporary, and (yes) rough around the edges. But I fully recommend it to anyone looking for a good time, and hope they bring it back once its run is finished.
Christine / February 26, 2010 at 03:34 pm
It was definitely a lot of fun! Nice running into you Andres.
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Haha, that's really nice. Now I really do want to move to Montreal.
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