By STEVEN HOWELL
---- — MONTREAL — A revealing family reunion, a 1950s crime drama, an eclectic Irish road trip and more take to the Centaur stage beginning next week.
First up is “August, an Afternoon in the Country” by Quebec playwright Jean Marc Dalpe with translation by Maureen Labonte. During a heat wave, “August” begins with celebratory good intentions as Monique and her fiancé commemorate their engagement on the family farm. Things really heat up when four generations of Monique’s relatives have a few things to say during the course of this family reunion.
“It’s an all-Montreal company and a gorgeous play about the transitions of four generations of women who all share a rural farming background,” said Roy Surette, artistic director. “They’re trying to face the modern world and redefine themselves.”
The cast ranges in age from an 18-year-old girl to an 80-year-old great-grandmother. The play takes place in real time “on a porch on a hot summer day,” Surette said.
“So, it feels like you’re eavesdropping,” Surette said. “It’s very Chekhovian with great humor.”
“August” is presented Tuesday, Oct. 2, through Sunday, Oct. 28.
Next is a trip to Southie, the hard-working Boston Irish neighborhood, as the Centaur presents “Good People” by Pulitzer prizewinner David Lindsey-Abaire.
When Southie resident Margie loses her job at the dollar store, she visits an old flame who has moved on up to the more affluent Chestnut Hill.
Surette directs the Montreal version.
First presented by the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2011, the lead role of Margie Walsh garnered actress Francis McDormand a Tony Award for best actress.
“It’s got a colorful Irish element to it,” Surette said.
Surette and actress Johanna Nutter, who plays the role of Margie in the Centaur production, actually took a road trip to Southie to get a feel for the neighborhood.
“It was great,” he said. “We met so many great people.”
In the play, losing a job means a lot to Margie as she has an adult disabled daughter to care for. When Margie meets her best friend at bingo, she learns of a former boyfriend who has done quite well for himself.
“Which introduces a whole domino effect,” Surette said. “It’s got a great sense of humor, the characters are great, and it’s just a fantastic play filled with surprises.”
“Good People” is presented Tuesday, Nov. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 9.
Surette also directs the first play in the New Year called “Innocence Lost” by Beverly Cooper.
Set in 1959, the play explores the true small-town story of the brutal rape and death of a young girl and the 14-year-old boy who was charged with her murder.
“It’s almost a docudrama in the same kind of theatrical world similar to ‘The Laramie Project,’” Surette said of the play that explores the community and national reaction to the death of gay teen Matthew Shepard in Wyoming. “This was a very famous case in Canada in the 1950s. It made the headlines.”
Surette said it took some three decades before the teen was acquitted.
“Innocence Lost” runs Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, through Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013.
Next is the SideMart Theatrical Grocery co-production of “Trad” by Mark Doherty.
The eclectic tale of “Trad” follows Thomas, a one-armed 100-year-old man, and his wooden-legged father on their road trip across the Irish countryside in search of Thomas’s 70-year-old son.
“It’s Beckett, but funny,” Surette said.
“Trad” is presented Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, through Sunday, March 24, 2013.
Following is “Dance Me to the End on/off Love,” a unique theater, dance, visual arts and live music production set to the music of Leonard Cohen. The work is staged by the 13-member theater troupe Granhoj Dans from Denmark.
“It’s a little bit out there for us, but we’re very excited about this production,” Surette said.
“It’s beautiful, evocative and unusual for traditional theater, but people who enjoy different aspects of performance are really going to love it.”
“Dance” is performed Tuesday, March 19, 2013, through Sunday, April 14, 2013.
Capping off the season is a bus ride on “The Number 14.”
The light-hearted play follows the antics of a cast of kooky characters aboard a downtown bus. Surette has a fondness for “The Number 14” as he directed the work some 20 years ago in Vancouver.
“It uses masks, it’s acrobatic, it’s an off-the-wall big, bold comedy.”
Catch “The Number 14” Tuesday, April 30, 2013, through Sunday, May 26, 2013.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.IF YOU GO DIRECTIONS: The Centaur Theatre is at 453 St. Francois Xavier St. in Old Montreal. TICKETS: Season subscriptions and individual tickets are now available. Call (514) 288-3161 or visit www.centaurtheatre.com for information.