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On the bill, Agenda, Reviews, Events // The Twilight of the Apes, based on the lives and works of Molière and Boulgakov, by Alison Cosson and Louise Vignaud, directed by Louise Vignaud, Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier / French comedy

June 14, 2022 |
Comments off on Le Crépuscule des singes, based on the lives and works of Molière and Boulgakov, by Alison Cosson and Louise Vignaud, directed by Louise Vignaud, Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier / Comédie Française

© Christophe Raynaud de Lage, Comédie-Française collection

ƒƒ article of Denis Sanglard

Bulgakov, Molière, the fate of two writers, protected by power and paradoxically subjected to censorship by this same power. Two lives, two works placed side by side, a parallel destiny where the second would illuminate the first with its lights, testimony also to the resistance of literature, of the imagination, to any attempt at oppression and killing. Louise Vignaud and Alice Cosson question in this creation, which is a fine tribute to the theatre, the ambiguous relationship between politics and the artist. Bulgakov admired Molière, The cabal of the devotees (1929), play on The Tartuffe and its prohibition and above all its remarkable Novel by Monsieur de Molière (1933), refused for publication, bears witness to this. So why not bring these two men together? One evening, after having received notification that all his plays will be withdrawn from the poster, his novels withdrawn from the libraries, and despite Stalin’s admiration for him, Bulgakov in despair receives a visit from the poets Boileau, Chapelle and La Fontaine. We are at the theatre, everything is possible. And these three take her straight away to meet Molière − just open a curtain like in the theater for the magic to work − on leaving Ridiculous Precious. Piece subject to the vindictiveness of the precious, represented by Madame de Rambouillet, demanding in a comical scene – Thierry Hancisse is hilarious in this character more dragon than precious – to withdraw the piece or to make severe modifications to it. And this is how we swing from Molière’s dressing room to Bulgakov’s office, from one century to the next, as naturally as possible, with beautiful fluidity. Nothing surprising therefore, in this we find the spirit of Bulgakov, the one injected into the novel The Master and Margarita. From tableau to tableau, where the imagination is emancipated from reality, where the theater sweeps aside all concerns for a time, where behind the scenes are the stakes of a battle for the survival of a work and its own life, Louise Vignaud and Alice Cosson establish a strange game of correspondence, real or fictitious, certain figures seem to overlap like one and the same face, from one era to another, underlining a community of destiny. History, even reinvented, is an eternal restart. And if there is a great success here, it is undoubtedly in the theater stages, that of Molière, where the troupe of L’Illustre Théâtre, between masks and painted faces, imposes its talent on the king. A theater of flamboyant trestles that crumbles over the course of the performance, there will soon be nothing but ashes behind the scenes of the Moscow Art Theater haunted by the Stalinist purges. And so strangely Bulgakov and Elena Sergeyevna Bulgakova avoid the fate of Meyerhold, executed, and Elena Sergeyevna Zinaïda Reich, assassinated – because it is also a question here of the importance of women – death nevertheless is implicit in this creation. Where the resistance of a work is the survival of the artist condemned by power and its stakes. A very funny scene perfectly sums up this ambiguity, where Louis XIV, played with finesse by Géraldine Martineau, successively receives the archbishop leading the cabal against The Tartuffe and Molière for his defence. The entire cast once again demonstrates the current excellence of the Frenchman’s troupe (let’s add, delicious irony, Éric Ruf lending his voice for the role of Stalin…), to which we must now add Nicolas Chupin in the role by Molière and whose first steps in the House, giving this creation not lacking in quality but a little too wise and which would undoubtedly have deserved more harshness, a dynamic which it sometimes lacks.

© Christophe Raynaud de Lage, Comédie-Française collection

The Twilight of the Apes based on the lives and works of Molière and Boulgakov, Alison Cosson and Louise Vignaud

Directed by Louise Vignaud

Dramaturgy: Alison Cosson

Scenography: Irène Vignaud

Costumes: Cindy Lombardi

Lights: Julie-Lola Lanteri

Sound: Orane Duclos

Makeup and wigs: Judith Scotto

Assistant director: Margot Thery

With the troupe of the Comédie Française: Thierry Hancisse, Coralie Zahonero, Christian Gonon, Pierre Louis-Calixte, Gilles David, Géraldine Martineau, Claina Clavaron, Nicolas Chupin

Voice-over: Eric Ruf

In partnership with Compagnie La Résolue

From 1er June to July 10, 2022

Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Wednesday to Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

Sunday at 3 p.m.

Old Colombier Theater

21 rue du Vieux Colombier

75006 Paris

Reservations: www.comedie-francaise.fr

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