Luminato 2011 Review: Tout Comme Elle (Necessary Angel and Luminato)

Luminato commissioned the translation and production by Necessary Angel of Tout Comme Elle; billed as “a fusion of movement, text and song examining the unique relationship between mothers and daughters”.

It’s difficult to describe Tout Comme Elle. It’s a 90 minute production featuring 50 actors from Toronto, all on stage throughout the entire show. At a guess I’d say they range in age from their mid-twenties to their mid-sixties. Some are just starting their careers, some are established as performers and some are Canadian theatre legends.

It was very impressive seeing all that talent on one stage.

Tout Comme Elle was originally written in French by Louise Dupre, a poet. It was translated by Erin Moure, also a poet. The lines are spoken by the cast sometimes in a chorus and sometimes by one person. In between the cast moves around the stage, sometime waling, sometimes almost running, almost always with some kind of arm movement. At times there are also songs, sometimes a solo and other times sung by the ensemble.

The costumes range from lingerie to evening dress but the best part are the shoes. The show opens with 50 pairs of shoes on an empty stage. The women slowly arrive and find their shoes. And there are some gorgeous shoes. I did feel sorry for the women in the beautiful sky-high heels; it must have been hard for them to run and shuffle.

At one point the women, one at a time, say their name and the name of their mother – “Me, June, daughter of Daisy”. It was reminiscent of a recitation of the begats and was quite touching.

It was the only part of the performance that really touched me. As both a daughter and a mother I expected that the show would touch me emotionally but it didn’t. Maybe because of the chorus and because, for the most part, the delivery of the lines was very unemotional, although dramatic.

I found myself paying a lot of attention to the shoes – already mentioned – and to the women’s bodies as they moved. A sure sigh that I wasn’t engaged with the piece. My favourite parts of the show were the shoes waiting for their owners at the beginning and the very last line of the show.


Tout Comme Elle is playing at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St E) until June 18
– Performances are at 8 pm with a matinee at 2 pm on the 18th
– Ticket prices range from $55.50 to $95.50
– Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-368-4849 or at the Luminato Box Office at David Pecaut Square