• Christmas monologues tackle repetition

    by  • December 17, 2014 • English, Financial Times, Theatre reviews

    Répétition / This Is My Destiny
    Pascal Rambert / Angelica Liddell
    Théâtre de Gennevilliers / Théâtre de l’Odéon, Paris
    December 3 & 13, 2014

    Christmas is traditionally a time of over-indulgence; in Paris’s theatres this year, it is proving to be a time of self-indulgence too. As the Festival d’Automne winds down, two of its final offerings have featured monologues with more than a trace of ego-tripping.

    At the Théâtre de Gennevilliers, artistic director Pascal Rambert has bundled together four monologues for the price of one. “Répétition” means both rehearsal and repetition in French, and the play brings together a quartet of acting luminaries (Emmanuelle Béart, Audrey Bonnet, Stanislas Nordey and Denis Podalydès) to rehearse in what looks like a sports hall. The repetition comes with the acting tours de force that ensue, as each actor is allotted a 30-minute soliloquy that goes round in circles.

    The loose theme is a cerebral road trip across Russia, and the breakdown of the tight-knit group. On stage, this manifests itself as a rendezvous between the worst of French auteur cinema and post-structuralist theory, where metatheatrical ramblings are juxtaposed with angst-ridden lectures on love and sex. Stalin is a guest of honour, as are his wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva, and poet Osip Mandelstam; as each harangue is delivered, the rest of the group wanders aimlessly on stage or curls up in the foetal position. (…)