French Soirée and Play: Reviewed

Last week saw the end of lectures and seminars and also the end of the French Society’s calendar of events. An active and well-attended society, the conclusion to the year was offered by a wonderful evening of theatre and, naturally, wine and cheese in Parliament Hall. A crowd-pleasing combination, the soirée proved to be a roaring success, with impressive acting, some classy live music and more than enough fromage to go around.

The evening began with a performance of “Le Début de la Fin”, adapted from Fin de Partie, a play by Samuel Beckett.  Once the audience were seated, we were introduced to the performance by director and producer Katharine Lovatt and director Thomas Barrière. This, along with English subtitles projected above the actors, all contributed to the welcoming and accessible tone of the evening. You need not have spoken a word of French to have enjoyed and been engaged in the production.

Directors Katharine Lovatt and Thomas Barrière

The play itself surpassed any expectations, and was made even more impressive by the fact that the actors were not native French-speakers. With complex monologues by the protagonsists, portrayed by Georgia Luckhurst and Hannah Vanderstrappen, they maintained a sense of dark comedy and unnerving realism throughout – the acting of both was commendable, as was their flawless French. The professionalism of the actors was further exemplified when there was a brief interruption to resolve a technical issue concerning the subtitles. Although this momentarily threatened to disrupt an otherwise seamless evening, it was managed without stress and quickly resurrected by the directors, a testimony to both actors and production teams.

Hannah Vanderstrappen, Georgia Luckhurst, Frederica Balbi, Julia Hallin. 

The real heroes of this play were however the two characters who remained, much to the audience’s astonishment, in two Fife council wheelie bins throughout the entire production, popping up to give their tuppence worth in some extremely entertaining dialogue. Frederica Balbi and Julia Hallin hilariously portrayed these “bin creatures”, a husband and wife from a seemingly forgotten past and a lost yesterday. Melancholy permeated their conversations, but a witty and comical performance was maintained by both.

Frederica Balbi, Julia Hallin.

Once the play concluded, there was a lull as people made their way over to have another glass of wine and sample some delicious cheese. Some of France’s best-loved songs were then performed by pianist Matthew Gray and singer Alexandra Upton, which only added to a really enjoyable evening. People stayed to enjoy the music, wine and atmosphere. I think everyone now hopes that this kind of soirée will become a regular feature in the French Society’s calendar.

5 Owlies