On the block in Mechanicsville - A loving, profane and funny portrait of a neighbourhood where hookers & stroller moms share the streets
Donnie LaFlamme wants to remember what it used to be, with all its warts, be they hilarious or heinous.
Mechanicsville Monologues is based on pieces LaFlamme wrote for the stage (he's codirector of Chamber Theatre Hintonburg, and teaches theatre at Algonquin College). It's mostly fictional stories about a neighbourhood where "if houses could talk, some would slur through rotten teeth." They're full of hard-knock characters who are, LaFlamme says, "based on people and situations I have known, but there is a lot of embellishment going on."
LaFlamme's stories are full of bleak, often laugh-out-loud humour, and swear words. The popular cusses are here, reused and relished, as if the narrator is a profanely chatty drunk - which it often is. The rawness is leavened by LaFlamme's love for the neighbourhood, and by vivid observations amid the human wreckage.
LaFlamme says he wrote the stories "to make sure some of these characters and situations lived on beyond my own tiny circle of activity."... Overall, the book is a loving, profane and by times scandalously funny portrait of a neighbourhood that is disappearing, and taking with it an age of Ottawa culture.
Laflamme is a actually a very naughty fellow whose earthy texts obviously greatly stimulated his young actors, we also realize that the writing had much to do with the success of each performance.
Monologues writer/director Donnie Laflamme and the Chamber Theatre Hintonburg team are really onto a good thing by bringing theatre into bars in the Ottawa community. There is something wonderfully refreshing about being able to enjoy a beer and a play at the same time. More importantly, by staging their productions in non-traditional spaces, Chamber Theatre is tapping into new audiences. I recognized very few of the usual Ottawa theatre crowd on The Mechanicsville Monologues opening night, despite a sold-out house. Chamber Theatre is bringing theatre directly to the community, and the community is responding by coming out to see their shows. It is encouraging and demonstrates the large appetite for theatre in this town.