Le Baladin du Monde Occidental
(The Playboy of the Western World)

by John Millington Synge
Translated by Francoise Morvan
Directed and Adapted by Elisabeth Chailloux
Theatre des Quartiers d'Ivry at Theatre d'Ivry Antoine Vitez
Ivry-sur-Seine, 01 43 90 11 11, Nov. 3-30, 2011

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

It's fabulous in more ways than one - Synge's almost untranslatable language and characters made into a Gaelic (Irish/French) movie-Western emulation. It's the fable of vagabond  Christy (Thomas Durand, marvelous in mountebank excess), with his derby, jeans, and fiddle shattering the calm of a night in a pub in a far northwest Irish town. Whiskey and wicked tongue combine to make Christy claim a coup-the murder of his overbearing father. Having one herself,  Pegeen, the daughter of the pub (in this case, saloon) owner, who lets her brave whatever might happen there while he goes off to watch corpses, immediately admires Christy's extravagant  act and thus him. Pegeen  (strong, fetching  Cassandre Vittu de Kerraoul) has been wanting a man differing from  Shawn, her milquetoast  cousin who's her father's choice  of a son-in-law.

Christy's extravagant account of killing his father endears him not only to Pegeen  but to the saloon habitués and also a trio of  swooning young girls  (Isabelle Cagnat, Valentine  Carette, Lison Penec). As her most ardent rival, Catherine Mongodin's Widow Quin is a force. (It's believed her marital status was self-made.)  All changes  when Christy's father (crusty Serge Gaborieau) returns from the dead but with skull none better for the wear. The townspeople, especially disappointed Pegeen, are disgusted as much with Christy's attempt to cover up his lie and now turn it this time into truth as they are with the lie itself. When the father returns from the dead yet again, he and a very different Christy are going to figuratively "get out of Dodge" together. The playboy now has confidence in his ability to go and tell stories throughout a world that will believe them.  Like so many stories of the old West.

The production shows the best effects of the decentralization of subventioned theater in France. It is a triumph for Elisabeth Chilloux, who directs the actors to be acrobats in action and various kinds of singers (crooner to squealers) but none subdued. This last characterizes as well the sets and lights by Yves Collet, costumes by Agostino Cavalca, and video effects by Michael Dusautoy.     

Return to Home Page

  • Road (National) Tour Review Index
  • New York City & Environs Theatre Review Index
  • Berkshire, Massachusetts Theatre Review Index
  • Boston Area Theatre Review Index
  • Florida Theatre Review Index
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul (Twin Cities) Theatre Review Index
  • Philadelphia & Environs Theatre Review Index
  • San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Review Index
  • Seattle Area Theatre Review Index
  • Toronto, Ontario (Canada) Index