The Ottawa Stilt Union takes audiences on a bilingual, acrobatic and musical journey to find the Great Northern Snails of Escargotville, a mysterious land full of whimsy.
Should you see it?
I’ve heard of snake oil salesman before, but never snail slime hunters! Snail slime is exactly what Maximilien is after, since in this world it is a mythical cure for wrinkles. The young businessman finds himself on the hunt in the strange land of Escargotville, where things are almost never what they seem to be at first glance. Our narrators on this journey are two puppets, the Anglophone Harold and his Francophone wife, Maude. As collectors, they essentially engineer Maximilien’s strange journey to get a hold of his briefcase and his feisty cell phone.
Searching for Snails is the very definition of whimsy; most of the characters speak in verse, there are some fun songs and it is a very physical production. Actors climb over each other, turn into living scenery and more, creating really compelling movement. The reason Searching for Snails works so well is that every member of this ensemble is clearly 200% committed to everything they do. I couldn’t help being drawn in by their magnetic energy, just like Maximilien couldn’t help being drawn into Harold and Maude’s scheme.
Doreen Taylor-Claxton stands out the most in the ensemble for her powerful voice, as well as her charming turn as Marvin, a flightless bird who becomes Maximilien’s sidekick. As the gullible Maximilien, Guy Marsan believably alternates between being serious and goofy. Gabrielle Lalonde and Élise Gauthier are also great as Maude and Harold. Alex Zabloski’s musical additions and sound effects throw even more charm into the mix.
The only bad thing I can say about Searching for Snails is that there weren’t enough stilts! However, there were plenty of other acrobatics to make up for that, and Emma Zabloski’s direction puts the emphasis on that. Perhaps the story is a little cliché – the morals of Searching for Snails are to believe in yourself and be considerate of others – but it’s presented with such aplomb that it didn’t bother me. For 75 minutes, I was totally engrossed. Searching for Snails definitely made me feel like a giggly kid again. Although being bilingual is definitely an asset, I think getting the gist of the show is possible either way, since the performance is so movement-oriented.
Searching for Snails will leave you think about one question, one that’s definitely worth asking yourself: what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
But that’s just my opinion and I’d like to know what you think. Were you impressed by the Ottawa Stilt Union’s acrobatics? Let me know in the comments below!
À la recherche des escargots/Searching for Snails runs until March 30th in the ODD Box at the Arts Court Theatre. Find out more information here.