Review: Sacha Guitry, Ma Fille et Moi
Image: Drayton Arms Theatre
Toutes les femmes sont comédiennes, à l'exception de quelques actrices.
(All women act a part, save a few actresses.)
One evening in her dressing room, a distinguished actress talks her daughter through her memories and her tempestuous relationships with the playwright and partner in crime Sacha Guitry.
It is a swan song, a kaleidoscope of adventures and misadventures … or a lesson on how to make a permanent coup de theatre of your life.
This world Premiere, as a tribute to Sacha Guitry on the 60th anniversary of his death, celebrates his undying admiration for women and his particular talent for mixing reality and fiction.
Following two sell-out shows, Trois Ruptures/Three Splits by Rémi De Vos (London, Beijing) and Ionesco/Dinner at the Smiths (London, Paris), this new production is the third collaboration between actress Edith Vernes and director Marianne Badrichani.
There will be a Gala Evening on Tuesday 23rd January, including a post show talk, drinks and canapés.
Tickets are £50 for this evening.
Performed in French with English surtitles.
Sacha Guitry (1885 to 1957) was a playwright you may not have heard of - unless you happen to be French.
A prolific writer of over 120 plays, Guitry was also an actor (making his stage debut at the tender age of just 5) and, additionally, a director and screenwriter.
Born in Russia, he was the son of French actors who eloped and were actually married in London in 1882.
There's a teeny bit of technical detail to get through before we proceed - the play is performed in French, but don't worry if you're language skills are, like mine, of insignificant proportions, surtitles appear above the acting area on a fairly large, easy-to-read screen and work extremely well thanks to the efforts of Chris Campbell.
And it's right that the play should be performed in the language of the playwright rather than being delivered in English since a principal purpose of this show is that it seeks to commemorate his work.
Though I caught only the gist of the French (filling-in the rest of the dialogue from the translation), the language makes a considerable difference in terms of the rhythm of the spoken dialogue, and that enhances the performance and our ability to appreciate the playwright's work.
Sacha Guitry, Ma Fille et Moi is cleverly and skilfully adapted from 5 of Sacha Guitry's plays by director Marianne Badrichani and Edith Vernes who also performs in this three-hander.
I can't reveal what happens at the beginning of this play since it would spoil the surprise, but it revolves around Sean Rees's Sacha Guitry who has just received a message prior to the start of the play.
According to the programme notes, Guitry himself loved playing games with audiences, and this funny and appealing start to this play echoes his artistic style which, apparently, often mixed reality and fiction.
Though I'm not going to betray the initial set-up, the remainder of the piece revolves around an actress (played by Edith Vernes) and her relationship with actor-playwright Guitry, as well as her interactions with her stage-struck daughter, impressively played here by Anais Bachet in her London stage debut.
There are plenty of comedic moments and variety in Edith Vernes and Marianne Badrichani's adaptation and the fluid performances shift easily between the comedic and sometimes more touching moments as in the denouement when Ms Vernes addresses her daughter about the joys of working in the theatre.
One extended and cleverly constructed scene involves Sean Rees and Edith Vernes playing a prostitute and her wealthy client who, after 2 years of seeing his money transferred to his mistress, decides to see just how much she really cares about him.
That, and other carefully selected samples of Guitry's writing and ideas, enables us to appreciate work which never feels dated and give us a rich insight into the mind of the playwright.
And with skilfully assured and admirable performances on offer, there's much to enjoy in this humorous and entertaining show.
Sacha Guitry, Ma Fille et Moi includes these short plays and extracts from the sizeable body of the playwright's work:
Le Renard et La Grenouille (The Fox and the Frog)
On Passe Dans Huit Jours (We Open in Eight Days)
Le KWTZ (The KWTZ)
Gala performance - on Tuesday 23 January there will be a gala performance of the show costing £50 which will include a post show talk, drinks and canapés.
For more information about Sacha Guitry and his work, check-out this Wikipedia page.
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ActDrop listing for Drayton Arms Theatre
Our show listing for Sacha Guitry, Ma Fille et Moi
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