Théâtre la Seizième
LE PÉRIMÈTRE by Frédéric Blanchette

Dates and Venue 20-31 October 2009, 8pm, | Studio 16, Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

For those who don't speak French, watching a play whether it be French or a language you don't know doesn't help at all. Even if there are surtitles, you end up looking up at the surtitles rather than observing the actors. Whether ths is a new experiment of the company, I don't know. But I've been hesitant to come over and review shows for this company because my French is long gone and forgotten. I lived in Montreal for a couple of years, but after not speaking the language for ages, you lose touch.

But I dared to come. The play wasn't bad at all. Both main actors Lyne Barnabe and Gilles Poulin-Denis handled their lines well and in rapid fire, most of the time, which made it even harder to understand as I shifted my eyes from above the doorway where the surtitles were being flashed to them, trying to decipher what they were trying to convey (especially the jokes).

French, as in any language, has evolved, and I could see a lot of English words like "fun" being used. I could catch those, plus the basics. Mind you, it's easier to read than to hear it spoken, unlike Spanish which is aneasier language to learn and understand orally.

The play is referred to as a "comedy of modern manners". But it's not a comedy, in the English sense of the word because in French, "comedie" would in the general sense mean "drama", the same way that actors are referred to as "comediens", but they're not comedians.

In this play, David (Gilles Poulin-Denis) and Catherine (Lyne Barnabe) are negotiating the aftermath of their separation. There are intimate, intense and at times funny moments, which the actors handled estremely well, and the play which was well-written deals with the typical break up of marriages and relationships, things that happen in normal day--to-day events

Although the play deals with a trite topic, it was, as I pointed out, well-done, and I could see the Mamet-Albee influence in the dialogues. Craig Holzschuh's mise en scene was convincing, and Drew Facey's decor and costumes wereelegantly designed. This is the 35th season of the company and I believe it is the only French community theatre company in BC.

© 2009 Ed Farolan