Centaur’s The Shoplifters: Grabbing what you can in a capitalist society

The Robin Hood ethos – stealing from the rich to give to the poor – is ever present in writer/director Morris Panych’s latest play, The Shoplifters, opening at Centaur Theatre March 19 till April 7.

Premiered in Washington, D.C. in 2014, and produced in Vancouver, the play gives a comedic approach to the shoplifting issue in a context of justice and injustice in a capitalist society.

For the Montreal performances, Panych has reworked the script with his bilingual cast to give it a local flavour. Ken MacDonald, who also is Panych’s life partner, has designed the set and costumes in a similar spirit.

Ellen David has the lead role as Alma, the older shoplifter who has no moral qualms about “using the five-finger discount” as her revenge against a system that tolerates poverty to redistribute the spoils of her actions to poor neighbours.

Laurent Pitre plays Dom, the righteous crime-fighting evangelist who nabs Alma and her sidekick,
Phyllis, (Marie-Ève Perron), when they are found with a couple of steaks up their skirts. Meanwhile, security guard Otto (Michel Perron), called to investigate the crime, develops a more sympathetic view toward the culprits and their viewpoint.

Panych has said that the Alma character and her actions represents more than simply getting even with the system.

“She’s an aging woman fighting
against a world that discounts her. She won’t be overlooked and is
determined to grab what she can out of life.” As the character says, “You know what matters? Living a little.”

The official opening is March 22, 8 pm and there are 2 pm matinées on Saturdays and Sunday, Wednesday March 27 at 1 p.m. and April 7, 2 pm. For tickets call 514-288-3161, or visit centaurtheatre.com and click on book Online or email boxoffice@centaurtheatre.com

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