Tag Archives: Comedie Francaise

“There’s no Business like Show Business” the London Theatre Scene, June and July 2018

The London theatre Scene in June and July seemed to be pleasantly busy. The norm for most shows is a 3 month run, so the scene is constantly changing. Those shows that have a fairly good success rate usually transfer to New York and play on or off Broadway with a similar run

“Strictly Ballroom”


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For all you TV. Junkies who are glued to the screen to watch “Strictly Come Dancing”, this is the show for you.

It’s fun. it’s colorful, it’s got music you know, and dance to. And it’s got tons of energy and they never stop dancing! Cha! cha! cha!

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“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie”


This show is bound to go to AMERICA. They will love it in NEW YORK, in fact all over the USA.

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I had a seat in the 2nd Row of the stalls, and talking to a lady by my side and one in the front row, they told me ‘They had seen the Show 5 times!’.  First of all when they said ‘5 times’ I thought they were off their heads. Then I thought, ‘it must be good!’, and it was, amazing! Jamie’s ambition is to be a Drag Queen and the plot goes from there. Oh! They will so love it in New York.

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If you get a chance go see it. You don’t have to go 5 times, just once is enough! But it is great, and a cast that is magical!

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John McCrea and Josie Walker

I have to mention in particular from the fabulous cast, Josie Walker who plays Jamie’s Mother. Singing with a voice to die for, the Heart Rendering song “He’s My Boy”! Which apart from receiving a standing ovation, brought the audience to tears.

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Shaftesbury Avenue Street Scene


I saw “Imperium” from the book by Robert Harris that was based on the Cicero Novels, at the Gielgud Theatre (I’m old fashioned and I still call it ‘The Globe Theatre’). It is destined to be going to New York, it is so good. The play is in 2 parts, played alternate evenings. Or on Matinee days Wednesday’s and Saturday’s. Part 1 Matinee, and Part 2 Evening. So if you do both shows in a day it’s quite a marathon, and you finish up knackered!

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Anyway I decided to do it in 2 consecutive evenings.

This was an important History Lesson for me, because when I was at Parmiters Emergency Secondary Grammar School in London during World War ll and only allowed to go to school in the mornings, because of the Bombing and the Buzz Bombs, Doodle Bugs, etc., etc. etc. and spending most of that time sitting under the desk (alone) I missed out completely on Cicero. So by seeing the play I learnt a lot!

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Richard McCabe as Cicero

History was never my good subject and at Geography I was even worse!!!

I used to think that Wales was past Scotland! Latin was a no, no! Even though I learnt it for 3 yrs.

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But I could have told you every show that was on in the West End of London at the time, and also the stars the full cast and matinee days! But I digress. The cast of “Imperium” are superb and Cicero played by Richard McCabe is brilliant.

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 The last time I saw him was on Broadway with Helen Mirren in ”The Audience”, where he played Harold Wilson, and I was also at the Tony’s when he won and was awarded the ‘Tony’ for best supporting actor in a play, for his performance in said play. When “Imperium” goes to Broadway he will most probably pick up another Tony. He is that good. But if “Red” is also playing on Broadway, it’s going to be a toss-up between him and Alfred Molina.

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Old mates, sharing a joke. Helen Mirren and Richard McCabe.

Maybe they hadn’t seen each other since the “The Audience” in New York and had a lot of news to share, or that she had maybe seen Orlando Bloom’s arse in “Killer Joe”?

“Killer Joe”

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The last time I was at the Trafalgar Studios was for “The Maids” which was a brilliant piece of Theatre. The Direction by Jamie Lloyd was fantastic and the 2 Stars Uzo Aduba and Zawe Ashton, gave performances of perfection that I will never forget. The Trafalgar Studios is a very versatile theatre, that can produce shows with or without a proscenium arch, in the round, or double sided as they did in the “Maids”. This time it was an open stage in the shape of a U, and this time I was in A Row seat 1 at the top of the U, directly onto the floor of the Stage. So really you  could say I was in it. The set reminded me of “Tobacco Road” which I did with Ruth Dunning in 1949. How long ago that was! That was also about White Trash!  This play was set in a White Trash Trailer Park with a very good plot, as a matter of fact, it’s a very sexy comedy thriller.

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Orlando Bloom and Sophie Cookson

The cast to get on and off stage had to walk past me and out through the Exit in the Auditorium. I give you all these details because of what came later.

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 Orlando Bloom Starkers in the White Trash Trailer Park in “Killer Joe”!

The Theatre was full I wasn’t sure whether the audience had come to see Orlando Bloom in the Play or starkers in his Birthday Suit? Because it was so well publicized.  Every time one of the casts ran off in a blackout they would accidently knock into me, not their fault they just couldn’t see, and after all I was sitting in the bloody play. It was just a pity that when Orlando Bloom ran off in the Blackout he didn’t knock into me,  or with a bit of luck, fall into my lap! Oh! By the way, his performance was excellent, as were the rest of the cast. All that Trailer Trash!!! Quite an exciting play in more ways than one.

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By the way, look at Neve Mcintosh’s eye level?

I’m sure, from where I was sitting she happened to touch the Crown Jewels as she walked past him! All in good fun.  Also Neve Mcintosh appears completely starkers, pubes and all at the very beginning of the play. Took me back to the good old “Casino de Paris” days. Very educational. That’s when she opens the front door to Orlando Bloom. No wonder she eyed him as well when he was starkers!

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I remember during World War ll at the Comedy Theatre on each monthly Sunday. The French Actors, who were in the French Resistance and had escaped to England, gave performances in French of Moliere’s Plays. I was seduced by the rhythm and rhyme of the wonderful Moliere language. They the actors were all I think from the Comedie Francaise, and also were in the French Resistance. Their official office was somewhere in London with General De Gaulle.

I was still at school and learning French (under the desk) but I wasn’t too good at it, but this was Theatre, in whatever language, with beautiful costumes, and in a language that sounded so civilized and eloquent, that I fell in love with it, even though it was in French!  The French language really, is such a truly beautiful language!  I would treasure these moments, when I would bunk into the Gallery without paying, once the show had started, and that was how I was introduced to Moliere. Let me tell you a little about Moliere.

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Tartuffe at the Comedie Francaise

 Many years later when I was a little more fluent in French, I saw Tartuffe at the Comedie Francaise in Paris, and loved it. The Comedie Francaise is a Theatre with a Company that has a tradition that is far too arduous for me to go into now, but the rhythm of Moliere’s dialogue is a thing of beauty.                                                             Google it! It explains everything.

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The Seduction  scene “Tartuffe” 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Molière, whose original name Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, (baptized January 15, 1622, Paris, France—died February 17, 1673, Paris), French actor and playwright, the greatest of all writers of French comedy.

Tartuffe, or The Impostor, or The Hypocrite, first performed in 1664, is one of the most famous theatrical comedies by Molière. The characters of Tartuffe, Elmire, and Orgon are considered among the greatest classical theatre roles.

A Short Analysis of Moliere’s Tartuffe:

Tartuffe is one of Molière’s masterpieces. The play was first performed as a three-act comedy in May 1664, and was immediately denounced for supposedly ‘attacking’ religion through its portrayal of the pious titular hypocrite, Tartuffe. The religious zealots who objected to the play eventually persuaded King Louis XIV (who had actually enjoyed the play) to have it banned. Sadly, this was not the last time religious people would take exception to comedy (and comedy that isn’t even poking fun at religion at all, but rather foolish devotion to a charlatan and impostor). Because of this early misinterpretation of Molière’s play, it is worth analysing Tartuffe more closely, to determine precisely what the play is saying about piety, hypocrisy, and gullibility.

The Comédie-Française or Théâtre-Français is one of the few State Theatres in France. It is the only State Theatre to have its own company of Actors. The company’s primary venue is the Salle Richelieu. The theatre is part of the Palais-Royal complex at 2 rue de Richelieu on the Place André-Malraux in the 1st arrondissement of Paris.

The theatre has also been known as the Théâtre de la République and La maison de Molière (English: House of Molière). It inherited the latter name from the troupe of the best-known playwright associated with the Comédie-Française, Molière. He was considered the patron of French actors. Unfortunately he died seven years before “La maison de Molière” was rechristened the “Comédie-Française.” and the company continued to be known popularly by the former name long after the official change of name.

The plot of Tartuffe is easy enough to summarise. We observe a man, Orgon, and his mother. Orgon has allowed himself to be duped by a fraud, Tartuffe, who hypocritically pretends to be pious and holier-than-thou, but is really a scoundrel who wishes to take advantage of the gullible Orgon. Orgon is prepared to marry his own daughter, Mariane, to Tartuffe, even though Mariane is in love with (and betrothed to) someone already. Although Orgon’s family try to make him see sense, he refuses to acknowledge that he has fallen under the spell of the roguish Tartuffe. His own son, Damis, even points out to Orgon that Tartuffe is trying to seduce Orgon’s own wife, Elmire.  But Orgon will hear nothing against the sainted Tartuffe. It is only when Tartuffe finally turns up on stage (not until Act 3) and Orgon, concealed under the table, observes Tartuffe’s attempted seduction of Elmire with his own eyes that he realises he’s been had by a rogue. He throws Tartuffe out of his house; Tartuffe tries to get his revenge by compiling a list of trumped-up charges against Orgon, in the hopes that Orgon will lose his house and Tartuffe will be given it instead. The plan almost works, but thankfully the King shows up, and, being a better judge of character than Orgon, recognises Tartuffe for the hypocritical cad that he is and has him arrested. Orgon’s property is restored. Everything ends happily, as you’d expect from a comedy.

All this information comes from Wikipedia and or Google, these 2 Websites are amazing! But I do not do the Social Media, that is a no, no for me!  If only I had Wikipedia and Google at my finger-tips when I was at school.  I wouldn’t have been such an idiot!  Of course I would have needed a computer, or maybe a laptop! Yes, that would have been better! I could have got that under the desk! Fat chance thou!  Still I digress, on with the story.


Imagine my excitement when I saw that a Modern Version of “Tartuffe” adapted by Christopher Hampton and Directed by Gerald Garutti for the ‘First Ever West End Bilingual Theatre Company’, to be presented at one of the most beautiful of London’s West End Theatre’s, ‘The Theatre Royal, Haymarket’. The Theatre is a dream! As soon as I read this, I booked a ticket (Dress Circle, of course!)


Oh, the excitement, I was going to see Moliere again! ‘Bilingual, well, that’s French and English! Interesting, very interesting!’ I thought. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. I finished up by the end of the show not knowing whether I was on my arse or my elbow! I was so confused. In fact confusion reigned and I had a splitting headache!

The cast were brilliant! They were completely bi-lingual! Their English impeccable! None of the z’is or z’at or z’ere!. Their French perfection! Well, it should be, after all they were French! The set and costumes were stunning, and oh! So, so, so modern!  Too modern!

Above the stage on the proscenium arch, was a long black box, which was the Subtitle Machine. So when a character spoke in French, the machine translated it into English, and the same English vice versa into French. When it was French it was Moliere, sort of! And when it was English it was Christopher Hampton who adapted it, and turned it into a complete fuck up! You didn’t know where to look, the Stage, the Box, the Cast, the Box, the Talking, the Box. I got so sick of the Bloody Poxy Box!  BUT IT WASN’T MOLIERE’S “TARTUFFE”!!!  Where were the heaving bosoms, where were the flouncy costumes? Moliere should never be taken out of his period, that’s what he wrote his comedies about. When they billed it as a comedy, that’s a laugh. I sat there po- faced the whole evening. These are my thoughts only, but I have just looked up some reviews for Tartuffe and I wasn’t wrong!

London Box Office.
Chief Critic:
Phil Willmott wrote:

“Tedious, pretentious and best avoided.”

And one from Michael Billington from the Guardian Newspaper says it all.

Michael Billington the Guardian Theatre Critic, who’s seen more shows than I have had hot dinners!  Wrote:

The Guardian

Tartuffe review – “This bilingual production squanders Molière’s wit and wisdom.”

2 / 5 stars 2 out of 5 stars.

Theatre Royal Haymarket, London.         Michael Billington

There, I’ve said it, and they’ve said it, we’ve all said it, and all said and done, subject closed! ‘On with the Show’!



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