Sunday, February 21, 2010

L'Étrangère au Théâtre, no. 2: special arrested-development edition

We at the Department of the Foreign Person at the Theatre may have mentioned here before, in that plural way of ours, that a few weeks ago we went to see Les Marionnettes de Paris, a puppet show intended for ages approximately 1-5. As this department mentioned at the time, this is probably the only theatrical experience wherein everybody else understands the language better than you, but you are the only audience member who does not pee. Indeed, this department defies any other theatre-goer to encounter another such experience, even at the Comédie-Française.

Anyway, here is an expertly taken photograph – not to brag, but this is from our personal camera – of two of the principal company members. They did not give their names:

Les Marionnettes de Paris is, or possibly are, conducted by a puppeteer who devoted more energy and verve to this eensy-weensy show in an eensy-weensy room than this department saw from the entire cast of the last Broadway show it watched. (Although, as a loyal new-yorkaise à l’origine, we must say that this puppeteer and his puppets had NOTHING on them in terms of – and we mean this from the bottom of our heart – hair gel.)

The story of the week was Jack and the Beanstalk. You may have heard of it. This department had, but not in this particular incarnation, which includes a repeated sequence wherein Jack, trying to climb the beanstalk, makes a comical puffing noise with each climbing motion, only to pause – for a brilliantly timed second – and then AAAAAHHHHHHHHH fall out of sight. Let this department tell you that, in the glorious tradition of Sideshow Bob stepping on the rakes,* this bit -- which happened approximately 5,695 times throughout the show -- went from medium-funny to medium-rare-funny to suddenly THE FUNNIEST THING IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD AHAHAHAHAHAHA well, you had to be there.

Anyway, it was a truly lovely afternoon of theatre, marred only slightly by the fact that this department finally completely lost its composure at the beanstalk gag and had to be whapped upside the head by assorted French parents who, fortunately, had come prepared with strollers. But we are getting off track here. The best part of the afternoon was the audience participation; when prompted, even the parents called out (often without any evident awareness that they were doing it). Everyone in the eensy-weensy room was completely lost in the moment, given over only to deriving his or her own, unique brand of enjoyment. In a weird way, this department has seen few other productions that come so close to exemplifying what an experience of theatre should be.

As for the hair gel deficiency, this department supposes it is a Cultural Thing, and therefore we will have to give this nation a pass. THIS time.

* And if you do not know what I am talking about, it means you are a failure as a human being.

©2010 Nicola McEldowney

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