Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Talisman's "Billy" is one outstanding play

Rivière des Prairies native and present-day resident Davide Chiazzese is one busy stage actor. This week he began a run as part of the cast of Talisman Theatre's  world English-language premiere of Billy (The Days of Howling), which goes until October 25 at Theatre La Chapelle on Rue St. Dominique in the Plateau. It is written by Québecois playwright/actor Fabien Cloutier, translated by Nadine Desrochers  and directed by Emma Tibaldo. Next month, November 13 to 20, the 26 year old graduate of MichelangeloInternational Elementary School in RDP, Lester B. Pearson High School in Montreal North and the John Abbott College Theatre Program, will star in  Teesri Duniya Theatre’s Holocaust-themed play Corpus.

Chiazzese’s co-stars  in Billy are Susan Glover  (the Admin lady) and Nadia Verrucci (Alice's Mother, whose daughter is at the same daycare as Billy). The latter thinks that Billy is being mistreated and finally confronts Billy's father (Chiazzese), with tragic results. The Admin Lady finds fault with the people around her. Seemingly unrelated at first, these three characters become intertwined as the play progresses, while one’s own judgmental attitudes are questioned.
Davide Chiazzese

“We do not see the actual characters of Billy and Alice in the play,” Chiazzese says. “ In the case of Billy, he is accused of spreading lice at the daycare.  My character decides to confront the woman who made the accusation. I had to put on 25 pounds for this role. It meant eating a lot of cheetos and drinking soda.”

I attended Wednesday’s presentation, a powerful 90 minutes without any intermission.

It is tiring,” Verrucci told me after the show, “but when you have an intermission you stop and start all over again. This way we keep going straight through.”

“Yes,” added Chiazzese, “I am tired now but during the show I have a lot of adrenaline.”

The audience loved  this well written and beautifully acted play in a quaint theatre I had never been to before. There were serious and edgy moments, as well as some lines which resulted in laughs – mostly those coming from Chiazzese who had to dip into the world of profanity to make the points of his character being painted with an unfair brush. There is only so much I can write without giving away the true plot.

Verrucci is a META (Montreal English Theatre Association)  award winning actor, singer, director and choreographer, and the Artistic Director of In Your Face entertainment. She has a long list of credits on her bio. After 12 years teaching drama and dance at the high school level in Lachute, Verducci left that profession in 2008 to pursue acting full-time. “I was always doing acting on the side and it really was starting to become difficult,” she said. “I still teach part time and substitute when I can.”

Chiazzese (Billy’s father)  was introduced to the arts at a very young age as his father was involved with l'Associazione Trinacria, an organization devoted to maintaining Sicilian culture in Quebec through theatre, music and folkloric dancing. After more than 10 years of participating in these community projects, he decided to pursue a career in acting. A graduate of John Abbott in the Professional Theatre Program, in his first year he  was awarded the Carla Napier Scholarship, and later appeared on CBC's Triple Sensation, making it to the Top 100 in Eastern Canada. The experience prepared him for his most memorable role at John Abbott, playing Tevye in Joseph Stein's Fiddler on the Roof. In his final year, he was awarded the Pamela Montgomery Award and was invited to be a part of the ICTF program at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011. Since, he has worked on many productions including Daisy and the Wonder Weeds (CETM), Henry V (Persephone), Sala XVIII (Canis Tempus), and The Tin Can People (Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Davide has also worked extensively with Teesri Duniya Theatre on productions including The Poster, State of Denial, the development of Safer Ground, and assistant directed Teesri`s Letters to My Grandma directed by Lib Spry as well as being on the artistic team for Bhopal directed by Arianna Bardesono and Liz Valdez.

A scene from the show with Davide Chiazzese, Nadia Verrucci and Susan Glover. ( Maxime Côté photo)

Bravo to director Emma Tibaldo and her team.

Shows will be presented Tuesday to Saturday evenings during the run, with a matinee on Saturday October 25. 

 Info: 514-846-0402 or