Jean Poiret’s play was a true original and exceptional as a ground-breaking comedy farce with a gay theme and a satirical look at the hypocrisy of the far right in French politics. Simon Callow’s adaptation is especially polished and superb at capturing all the nuances of the original farce whilst instilling all the fine and finessed virtues of good manners.
This is the story of Georges and Albin, owners of the nightclub La Cage aux Folles in St Tropez; then Georges’s son arrives to tell them he is getting married to the daughter of the French minister for moral reform. The couple are thrust into a dilemma that makes for a cracking good play. Not only do they have to dismantle their home, they have to dismantle themselves and play it butch.
Georges played by Michael Matus and Albin played by Paul Hunter are beautifully cast; these two are real troupers, old school masters of their craft and with a fine support ensemble with special mention to Syrus Lowe as Jacob, an awesome master of physical comedy and Peter Straker as Tabaro giving an enthusiastic performance as a downtrodden “Yes man” of an accountant by day, but longing to tread the boards at night and perform. Both pulsate with an energy that is so fitting for their roles.
Laurent, Georges’s son, played by Arthur Hughes is also very watchable showing perfect timing as the gags are played out. Finally Mark Cameron playing Marseilles and Zorba is a true scene stealer, making the most of his time on stage.
This is a very faithful adaptation by Simon Callow keeping the premise and the message of the play intact; especially the verbal tennis matches between the characters. Each returning a volley and thrust with a verve and vigour that is spellbinding, magical and bewitching and all done with an air of masculinity that is impressive.
This is a true highlight of the Spring season at The Park Theatre, directed by Jez Bond, with a sense of pure frothy fun creating in particular a wonderful, controlled out of chaos frantic finale – a sturdy realisation that the cast had found their true vocation in life and that was to be extremely entertaining and having a ball. A stunning production!
Photos by Mark Douet.