Saw Catalyst Theatre‘s Hunchback a couple of weeks ago at the Vancouver Playhouse. (I’m particularly glad I saw it at that venue, since the announcement of the theatre’s immediate closure came out today. The Playhouse has been running for almost 50 years, bringing live theatre to Vancouver since 1962.)
Hunchback was a worthy note on which to close: powerful singing, spectacular costumes and scenery, and eerie lighting. As Rita Star tweeted, “Drunk on spectacle and dark beauty.”
The brightly lit, curved poles of the set combined the shape of Gothic windows with the intense saturation of stained glass. The costumes were a sort of medieval-punk-Samurai-grunge mix, with Quasimodo’s hunchback being a skeletal creature clinging to his back. It’s a dark and harrowing story, and the company did justice to it. The most arresting moment comes near the end when Quasimodo throws Frollo to his death from the top of Notre Dame Cathedral and Frollo’s soundless scream is captured by a beam of light on his face. Now that is an image that will not soon fade.