First Snow/Première neige at CanadaHub @ King's Hall is a story that focuses on a gathering of family and friends arranged by Isabelle as she summons her family back to their ancestral home in Québec. Like many families, there are many issues of discordance, and old memories and disputes between everyone soon begin to surface.
Through a story that is constantly shifting not only from past to present, but actor to character, we meet Isabelle’s right-wing brother Harry, daughter Mina, and Catherine, the youngest and most rebellious of the family. Catherine has also arrived with her new Scottish boyfriend.
As a family drama this work is interesting, but there is a predictability to the characters and that leaves little room for story development. There is a very political element to this story as different viewpoints of politics and referendums are discussed from the viewpoints of our family members, and parallels between the Quebec and Scottish Independence referendums are very much to the forefront here as are other issues (including Brexit). We touch also on many well intended declarations of Independence and self-government and personal liberty whilst taking a look at wider world politics and exploitation.
The political area is for me where this story loses its direction. Although we have an excellent cast performing here, there is simply nothing new here that I have not heard before as we are looking at events and outcomes through the eyes of polar opposites on the subject and the win or lose vote on any referendum is not decided by these extremes, but by the vast bulk of people holding a middle ground and for whatever reason not wanting, or being willing, to give that ground up to change. For once, I would like to hear their voices.
First Snow/Première neige is a joint English/French language production, but don’t worry about that if you don’t speak French as the French spoken dialogue on-stage is translated on screen behind the performance. The choice to keep the two languages on stage was the right one for this performance as the difference between use of the two languages by our characters is important here to their identities.
First Snow/Première neige is a work that I actually like a lot, but I am left a little puzzled as to its direction as it offers no resolution to our family drama as it unfolds and has no political commentary that I have not heard many times before. On the family drama side though, no resolution is perhaps the best outcome as for most of us that is the way our family life unfolds; it often has no clear resolution to issues and certainly does not have one in the space of 90 minutes.
Review by Tom King
First Snow / Première neige
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall - King's Hall, Mainspace
Aug 4-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-26
1 hour 30 minutes
Country: United Kingdom - Scotland
Group: National Theatre of Scotland, Théâtre PÀP and Hôtel-Motel