This Mimi is Spectacularly Good

photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.
Sometimes the truth is more fascinating than fiction, as is the case with the story of Marie Madeleine Brinvilliers, a French serial killer who went on a poisoning spree in the late Seventeenth Century in pursuit of ultimate freedom. This is the premise of Mimi (or a Poisoner’s Comedy), a new musical by (Nova Scotian) Allen Cole (music and lyrics) with book and additional lyrics by Melody A. Johnson and Rick Roberts making its world premiere at the Tarragon Theatre until October 25th. It is the decadent reign of King Louis XIV in Paris, an era of indulgence which saturates Mimi’s electric opening number- a gluttonous, extravagant, hilarious romp with Mimi, some wine, her husband, some sex, her lover, some grapes, and the maid.
The four of them are perfectly happy in their debauchery, living in bliss wrapped in the sheets of their sins, until the Marquise’s father, D’Aubray, seeks to impose a sense of propriety in his daughter and son-and-law and to reform Mimi from a wicked whore into an innocent ingénue. Of course there is much to sing about, and Allen Cole’s music is exquisitely beautiful, as rich and succulent as the era it pastiches. The lyrics are the ultimate in wit and cleverness and prove the perfect mixture between dark, twisted humor and true, earnest emotion. Melody A. Johnson and Rick Roberts prove their genius for words in the book to the show, which has all the depth and consequence of a play, yet all the crisp, astute comedy of musical theatre. Some of their lines are perfect delights. Together, Cole, Johnson and Roberts have created a grandiose world where murder unfolds like poetry and Mimi learns that in order to be spectacularly bad, she must be spectacularly good, and (almost) all is appropriate cause for a good frolic.
The production is directed crisply by Alisa Palmer, who keeps the movement grounded in its historical context and guides her actors toward the limit of exuberance, but never allows them to cross into anything too clownish or crass. The set design, by Camelia Koo, is wonderfully unique and her costume designs are absolutely breathtaking.
Tamara Bernier-Evans gives a stoic performance as the maid, whose denial of lust is a matter of survival. She then creates the intricate, stifled, mother of Mimi, whose love for her child is beautifully, and perhaps surprisingly, touching. Martin Julien bursts with flamboyance as Mimi’s husband Brinny, who always seems moments away from throwing a temper tantrum. Utterly helpless, Brinny is amusingly reminiscent of the spoiled King John from Robin Hood who “calls for Mom and sucks his thumb and doesn’t want to play.” Victor A. Young is commanding as D’Aubray, and Paul Braunstein is brilliantly hilarious as the miserable Torceaux (whose very name evokes giggles) and exceptional as the long-winded Italian Exili. Ron Pederson is the perfect hopeless romantic as Ste. Croix, who slays the audience with a single “ahh, Mimi” and his impeccable comic timing. Pederson’s Ste. Croix may have his dapperness lacquered on, but his love and loyalty to Mimi comes straight from the heart.
Trish Lindström gives a brilliant performance as Mimi, a woman who flits through life seeking to fulfill her every lust and desire, and who finds the ultimate arousal in poisoning those who stand in her way. Lindström brings such passion and fiery strength to her character and as Mimi, throws herself headlong into life with reckless abandon. She is at once witty, fun, tragic, wicked and deliciously irresistible.
The feathers are flying at the Tarragon this October with Mimi, a production which will whet your appetite for the luscious indulgences in life. One such indulgence is the opportunity to watch Ron Pederson prance around a stage, as no one else can prance. But, all good things must come to an end, as the adage goes, and Mimi is no exception. I strongly encourage you to book your tickets before this show sells out and the lights go dim on this murderous romp and c’est fini.
Mimi runs at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace until October 25th with shows Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30pm. For tickets please call 416.531.1827 or visit this website. There are also $10.00 rush tickets sold in person at the door each Friday night starting at 6pm which must be paid for in cash. In my experience, it is best to arrive between 5:00-5:30 to stand in line for these tickets, then at 6:00 you can catch a bite to eat before the show begins at 8:00pm.

Leave a Reply