Anne-Marie Olivier’s Venir au monde: Life at Full Speed

Anne-Marie Olivier’s Venir au monde: Life at Full Speed

Review by Aurélie Roy

In her latest play, Anne-Marie Olivier, Quebec playwright and director of Le Trident, presents several birthing stories in all their messy beauty. Venir au monde is based on real anecdotes that Olivier collected and put together in this intelligent and mesmerizing production.

The story is simple enough. Based on the premise that life in itself is an accident, the play begins with the car crash of a young mother-to-be as she leaves her house in the countryside to get to the hospital. Trapped in the crushed car with, of all things, the moose that she hit stuck on the top of her car, she waits for help in the middle of painful contractions and a fierce snowstorm.

Several people come to help her, and as they find which role they are meant to play in the birth of this baby, the audience is made privy to the stories of their own births. These vignettes all paint a portrait of what it is like to be born and of what it might feel like to contribute, in one way or the other, to the birth of another.

Venir au monde is not only concerned with the shock and the wonders of childbirth, but it is also about the despair that accompanies the loss of a child. The play celebrates life, while also mourning those who were not given a chance at life. And as the audience rejoices about the fictional births that they are lucky enough to witness, it also grieves the death of the mothers and infants who do not survive.

Olivier’s play is very realistic in its theatrical representation of childbirth: giving birth is wonderful, but it is also painful, chaotic, and dirty. Blood and amniotic fluid mix with snowflakes and maple leaves on the floor of the stage to create a messy set that exposes how real giving birth can be. The realness of some of the scenes might be cause for some discomfort, but Olivier’s talented writing and Véronique Côté’s skilful direction make even the awkward moments feel just right.

The use of stage props is limited and judicious. For instance, the young woman’s first contractions come as she is cleaning the floor, and a sponge is cleverly used to produce her water breaking. Moreover, a thin plastic sheet is repeatedly used as replacement for the several newborns that appear over the course of the play. The plastic sheet often floats in the air propelled by a fan, thereby symbolizing the fragility of life and the wavering delicacy of birth.

At times heartbreaking, the several vignettes are always beautiful and heart warming. They are all both unbelievable and very real.

The story begins with one woman’s car crash. But every character seems to get in a head-on collision with the wonders of childbirth, and with the immensity of life.

Venir au monde is playing at Le Trident until May 20, 2017.

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Categories: Arts & Culture, Reviews

About Author

Aurélie Roy

Aurélie Roy moved to Quebec City in 2010. She is an M.A. student in English Literature at Université Laval where she also received her B.A. in English Studies in 2015. She enjoys reading literature in any shape or form, and also likes to write fiction in the little free time she has. She is always moving and determined to accomplish the several projects that she has, but still often finds pleasure in simply sitting around all day, curled up under a blanket with a good book and her dog.

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