- Adeline Amar
- 23 August 2018
A French/English bilingual piece of absurd theatre
Monsieur Somebody starts with three inmates plotting their escape, and turns into three flashbacks as the inmates start comparing the biggest and best lie they've ever told. It is an unusual exercise in bilingual theatre, as Claude, whose elaborate scam story becomes the main part of the play, almost only ever speaks French, with occasional translation through another character.
Produced by the French/Scottish company Theatraverse, the play is an interesting concept. The bilingual aspect is cleverly written, with just enough detailed French it's unlikely to be 100% understood. Instead the audience is forced to rely on non-verbal cues, and encouraged to enjoy the guessing game and mystery of particular lines.
The rest of the play is unfortunately not as tightly executed, with a confusing combination of brief Queen songs excerpts, occasional nonsense, and a very strange ending. Claude's scam flashback, in particular, suffers from an uneven pace and direction: the use of lighting to focus on vignette-like scenes adds an excellent dramatic effect, but the inclusion of unnecessary props to indicate a change of scenery distracts from otherwise humorous moments.
Monsieur Somebody still remains enjoyable and amusing play, thanks to the compelling acting and contagious enthusiasm of the three performers.