“Imo Mouna” – The violent heritage

Photo: Alex Paillon
Mohsen El Gharbi is proving to be an interpreter charismatic, warm, who lives in a scene completely stripped with a lot of expressiveness.

The author and comedian Mohsen El Gharbi is a long-standing interest in the origins of individual violence, a theme that he explores through monologues theatrical. Three years ago, The last role was based on the massacre at Polytechnique. Also presented at the MAY, Imo Mouna emanates from a source more personal.


Wondering about this weighing family heritage that is the brutality of paternity, the Montreal-ancestry belgo-tunisian attempts to trace the history of his great-grand-mother’s centenary. Kind of tribute to this courageous woman, which he had already made the subject of a short film, The secret of Imo Mouna, in 2016, his monologue seems to compensate for the deficits of the memory by the imagination.


Party in Tunisia to film the venerable Imo Mouna, the narrator is thus found, as if by magic, catapulted to a time when her grandmother was a very young woman, captive of a husband tyrannical. A past that Mohsen can only watch as a spectator invisible, a witness of dramatic events about which he can only see his helplessness. Started as a monologue, autobiographical, solo borrows particularly in the form of a fairy tale. A fable seemingly improvised from a canvas, where the comedian, who claims to be at the time of the commedia dell’arte and the ” oral tradition of the Maghreb “, embodied with a pleasure manifests all the characters. The spontaneous nature of the text, such as the distance forced by the narrator in relation to what he says, probably explains the character a little disjointed and anecdotal, a story that seems much transit through the actions and events, and stay outside as to its theme.

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The heart of the story, it is marriage, appalling violence, that binds Imo for a man to be known just as gray Beard, as the character is rigid and cruel, whom no one will ever understand really the motivations, akin to a villain worthy of a fairy tale. Some of the scenes are a powerful horror. But the show also contains a lot of digressions humorous, and even sometimes adopts a register close to the stand-up. As in the story of the initial trip by plane, with his observations comedy on cultural differences.


So, on the level of content, the show ends up like a bit of a journey rich in stopovers than in true destination. But Mohsen El Gharbi is proving to be an interpreter charismatic, warm, who lives in a scene completely stripped with a lot of expressiveness. Shots of personifications colorful, deploying a highly physical game, where it mimics the actions he has mastered the art of the storyteller, this direct relation with a public that he knows how to seduce.


It also retains the beautiful figure Imo Mouna, a woman, very dignified, the strength and the joyful resilience that deserved to be preserved across a room.

Imo Mouna (or my fantastic meeting with my great-grandmother)

Text and directed by Mohsen El Gharbi. Artistic advisor : Jean-Marie Papapietro. Consultant dramatic : Patrick Cady. A production of The Actor’s power. In MAY until the 14th of October.