Heavy, Challenging: Nicolas Billon’s Butcher Commands Our Attention

A police station. Christmas Eve. An inspector, a lawyer, and a “John Doe” dressed in military uniform and a santa hat with a butcher’s hook hung around his neck. This is Nicolas Billon’s new play Butcher, presented by Alberta Theatre Projects at the Martha Cohen Theatre. Directed by Weyni Mengesha, Billon’s Butcher deals with heavy themes surrounding the nature of justice in an (un)civilized world.

Billon’s play begins simple enough: Inspector Lamb (Eric Nyland) has called in Hamilton Barnes (Andrew Musselman) in order to solve the identity of Josef Dzhbrilovo (John Koensgen), a old man mysteriously dropped off at the police station in the middle of the night. Lamb is unable to make any progress in the case because Josef speaks only in Lavinian (a fictional language co-created for the play by Dr. Christina Kramer and Dragana Obradovic). Meanwhile, Barnes has no idea who the man could be, despite the fact his business card was attached to the butcher’s hook found on Josef’s person. Elena (Michelle Monteith), a Lavinian translator, is called in by Lamb to help with the case, but her arrival does anything but. On this night, the Butcher will finally answer to his crimes. Continue reading