Edinburgh Fringe 2018
What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told? The biggest secret you’ve ever kept? Claude the fraud is a deliciously despicable Frenchman that we love to hate, hate to love… But who could possibly love Claude? An absurdly comic tale of betrayal, barbiturates and a brew. Is this his real life? Is this just treachery? Caught in a web of lies, no escape from reality. At a time when political and humanitarian crises have become near-normal everyday horrors, Seamus Collins imagines just how far a nobody will go to become a somebody.
Pacing in a circle, three characters stare out at us as they pass and seem to be in a restricted place. Instrumental percussive music with a distinctly unsettling vibe plays. The two men and one woman communicate furtively in whispers, they are tough guys, bullying, begging, negotiating, and a test is set. Before long they have got themselves into a situation, turning the tables on what they each had, what they wanted and what they believed in.
This absurdist play, written for the bilingual (English/French) company, Theatretraverse, is written by Northern Ireland’s Seamus Collins. It pulls you in at first – then draws you in until you witness the story unfold for yourself. The plot is subtle and impactful – is it absurd or could this happen?
Monsieur Somebody is well written and a new work from the author who has written other absurdist plays, some of which have been performed by Theatretraverse. Tautly directed by Joanne Allan, Director of Theatraverse, Allan has created a stylish world in this interesting stage space, seamlessly transitioning into different places with minimal props and creative set pieces. The rhythm and structure of the play builds to an arc and the denouement in a compact hour of dramatic theatre with irony, surprises, wry humour, and of course, absurdist reasoning.
A cast of three actors play all the characters in each other’s twisted minds with music by Mikayil Quenum.
Fiamma Bennett, Siva Nagapattinam Kasi, and Guillaume Paulette are fine actors, all bilingual. They create multi dimensional and fully fleshed out characters with finely drawn undercurrents that push and pull the audience as they interact, glance, listen and try to sway the others to their point of view.
As a bilingual play in English and French it is a fascinating way to hear the characters speak short moments in each language – and importantly, that you will not miss a beat, even if you have no knowledge of French, because of the seamless way the play is crafted with both languages. Language is interesting and this aspect adds to the depth and intrigue of the play. You may also be surprised how much French you understand! Also, one of the first characters you meet in the play speaks with a London accent part of the time, and hearing her speak French with a Cockney dialect adds a certain familiarity with both languages.
This fascinating play will appeal to you if you want to see excellent acting, creative theatre, a story with intrigue, conflict, wry humour, wit, and the bonus of bilingual language. Monsieur Somebody is an intriguing new play that is provocative and entertaining – Highly Recommended!