Of course when a theatre company is renowned for its brave approach to edgy and often uncomfortable material, there really is no place to go when you are trying to shake things up but to a more mainstream play. Let me put it this way, Heroes (by Gerald Sibleyras, translated by Tom Stoppard) is pretty much the polar opposite of the first production I ever saw at Sage Theatre. There is no nudity, there are no drugs, no violence; there is no naked emaciated addict lying at your feet injecting heroin into his penis.
Rather, there are three aged retired soldiers, comrades in a Veterans' Home in France, who spend their days on their terrace complaining about their lives, dreaming of women, and ultimately plotting their escape. An escape to Indochina, where Laotian women await them, or perhaps just an escape to the poplars that move so freely in the wind at the top of the hill beyond the cemetery.
Henri - the proud son of the common people, Gustave - the agoraphobic aristocrat, and Phillipe - the simple amiable with a propensity to black out at inopportune moments, rely on one another for companionship, for maintaining what is left of their dignity, and, if the rumours of murderous nuns can be believed, for their very lives.
Heroes is a simply staged production. With all the drama arising from the interactions of three characters whiling away their days upon a terrace, the best moments occur in the verbal sparring that is an integral part of their days. I found the moments of physical comedy to be lacking in subtlety and a bit overdone, but the underlying affections that bind the men was well wrought and nice presented. Grant Reddick (Henri) brings a particularly understated performance that works perfectly with the material.
Heroes is a gently humourous play. It has a sweetness and a naivety that is quite charming. You won't be shaken to your core by raw emotions after watching this production, but you will leave with a wistful smile.
Heroes is at Sage Theatre from September 24 - October 3, 2009