Head à Tête not your average children’s play

Bilingual play entertaining for all ages.

Last Saturday the familiar marble clad lobby of Convocation Hall was transformed into a barren, post-apocalyptic hellscape replete with haunting winds and howling wolves. This was the setting of Head À Tête, Windsor theatre’s latest production. The ambitious one act play explores the enduring power of friendship through the characters Yves and Adam, two isolated survivors of an unexplained armageddon who are drawn together over the miraculous discovery of a living tree.

Yves, a francophone performed by Victoria Vallier, and Adam, an anglophone performed by Natalie Walsh, are forced to reconcile their differences and work together despite the language barrier that divides them. The resulting script is a touching, bilingual commentary on the enduring power of compassion and empathy in the face of greed and desperation. Clearly, Head À Tête is not a typical example of children’s theatre, but that is something director Gregory McLaughlin is proud of.

Head À Tête, written by David S. Craig and Robert Morgan, is described by McLaughlin as a “rare gem” among children’s plays that is able to “connect with all audiences.” McLaughlin’s production certainly proved its versatility, captivating a room full of fifth graders at Sackville’s Marshview Middle School before it was unveiled to a more mature audience at Mount Allison on Saturday afternoon.

Vallier and Walsh both appreciated the opportunity to perform before such a large group of children. “It was so much fun,” Vallier said. “There was constant narration from the audience—just so much reaction that we could build off.”

McLaughlin was equally excited by the children’s reactions, explaining that, “with so much of the grown up theatre we see, you go in, you sit down, you applaud when it’s appropriate and then you leave; but with children that format just doesn’t work.”

The interactive nature of the play was further evident in the set designed by Jeanne Fries and Jasmine Keillor. The audience had the option of either sitting in folding chairs or reclining on pillows arranged before the stage for a truly immersive theatrical experience. The stage design was minimalist, which both emphasized the importance of the single warped tree that drove the conflict between Yves and Adam, and also helped to create the image of a bleak world devoid of life. The costumes, designed by Kendrick Haunt, were artistically tattered and complimented the play’s hostile setting.

Head À Tête was an enthralling production that was alternately funny, heart warming, and inspirational. It is a play that, while written for children, can truly be appreciated by all audiences, regardless of their age.

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