Chances are pretty good that you know Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho. Maybe even the original novel it’s based on, by Robert Bloch. But, even if you don’t, I’m going to bet you’ve seen variations of the shower murder scene or heard Bernard Hermann’s accompanying soundtrack.
Psycho has been re-made for film and as a television series with varying degrees of success, but don’t worry, that’s not what playwright José Teodoro and the rest of Blarney Productions are undertaking.
Instead, Mote – playing at La Cité Francophone May 8 – 17 – is an imagining of what might have been if things were a little different between Marion Crane (played by Twilla McLeod) and Norman Bates (Luc Tellier). Luc Tellier explains, “It’s a take off of Psycho – it takes the characters, specifically Marion and Norman and puts them into a little bit of a different world than we’re used to seeing them in. José kind of puts these new places in their story and they go off in different directions… [He] asks, what would have happened if… ?”
But if you haven’t seen Psycho, or haven’t seen it lately, Luc said that beyond the characters and their initial situation, Mote stands on its own. “Mote does such a good job of really creating it’s own thing. It stands alone and you don’t have to know [Psycho]… There are some scenes that are almost verbatim and it’s very identifiable as Psycho and you’re like, ‘Okay, I know exactly what’s about to happen’ and then it doesn’t.” Luc himself says he wasn’t familiar with Psycho before being involved in Mote, and the differences between his character, Norman, in Mote and Psycho surprised him. “I read [the script] and became really familiar with it and the trajectory of this Norman that I know from Mote and I watched the movie and I was like, ‘Woah! Look at all these different things he’s doing!’. So, it’s kind of like the backwards experience of things, but they both work, which is cool. It’s not like José completely takes it and makes something new, it’s just a different look at it.”
Luc says he’s definitely enjoying playing a different role than he’s previously been cast in (you may have seen him this season in the Citadel’s Arcadia). Beyond tapping in to playing one of cinema’s most troubled characters, Luc says there are a few things about Norman that everyone can relate to, “One thing that the show about which Norman identifies with heavily is that everyone gets lonely. Everyone feels isolated at times. There’s also a level that’s explored more so in Mote than in Psycho in terms of Norman’s homosexuality – it’s kind of looked at a little bit more in Mote. It only makes sense that he was so suppressed and secluded and this takes place in the 60s and so it only makes sense that he has these dark sides to him.”
On the production side of things, Blarney Productions’ team is incorporating cinematic elements into the show. Luc says, “[The script] reads very cinematically… We don’t have a set, we’ve taken out the main seating at La Cité Francophone and so we have the audience up in the balcony looking down on us and we have a top-down projection that creates the set. The company makes up a lot of spacial formations, for lack of a better term. Between the company, the projections, and the soundscape, that creates the world.”
It’s a production that could only really happen at La Cité Francophone, and above everything else, Luc hopes audiences walk away feeling like they’ve had a unique, one-time experience. “There are lots of plays being televised now in movie theatres and you get a really good sense – you feel like you’re there, watching The Met at Cineplex or whatever – but I think this specific show and this style you have to be in the room with us, which is really cool. What I’m hoping is that the audience will walk away thinking they’re glad they got to experience this happening, this event. Because I really think that it can only take place within the walls of La Cité within the world we create and once it’s gone, it disappears. The show is all about disappearing, it’s these characters running away from things and they just kind of find themself suddenly in this new place and running away from it or going back to where they came from. The audience is going to sit down, be thrust into this world and then it too will disappear.”
Mote runs May 8 – 17 at La Cité Francophone (8627 91 street). That’s right, it means it’s running on Mother’s Day. While Luc couldn’t reveal whether Mrs. Bates makes an appearance, he does say, “Let’s just say that mother’s always at least watching.”