SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE
by Georges Feydeau translated by Peter Meyer.
Orange Tree Theatre 1 Clarence Street TW9 2SA To 2 February 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 3pm & 3, 10, 17, 24 Jan 2.30pm (+ Post-show Discussion).
Audio-described 22 Jan, 26 Jan 3pm.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 8940 3633.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 December.
Goose or Turkey, it’s a glad tale for winter.
Sauce pours all over this, one of Feydeau’s finest farces. Its ingenious double climax to the central act – as so often, set at night in a shady if elegant hotel – is matched by s device of director Sam Walters, ensuring the production is live as can be. When he first directed Le Dindon in the original Orange Tree theatre, upstairs in the local pub, with none of the facilities supposed essential for farce, Walters came up with a beautiful solution, artificial as the genre and as demanding in technique as farcical acting. It’s still worth experiencing, though the demanding device means stage management member Becky Flisher should be credited alongside the actors.
Multiple affairs are going on, or imagined to be, by a small group of bourgeois Parisians, whose efforts to gain sexual satisfaction are focused in this play on the assertion by a very proper wife that she’d have no hesitation taking-up another man should she suspect her husband of infidelity. This immediately sets one of her admirers, sure he’d be the fortunate beneficiary of her revenge, to prove the husband – as it would turn out in Feydeau, an old friend – has a mistress.
In various ways, sound effects are vitally important here as deafness is used sublimely to bring matters to a head. While people go searching for missing objects, or try to avoid people meeting each other, as sexual desire perfumes, then turns to rank sweat around, the characters, the major act of undressing is that of sweet old Madame Pinchard, on her 40th wedding anniversary, unable to hear a sound as she accidentally causes mayhem among those who’ve been waiting to undress and leap into bed.
Fussing around, making an effort of every action, preparing carefully for sleep, Auriol Smith is absolutely serious about each effortful action as matters grow hilariously chaotic around her. Vincent Brimble, as her equally innocent husband, the stuffy type under whose wing she’s lived protected, finds his rage at the hotel mayhem as confused as the night-capped chorus at his door who assume it’s all his fault. Delirious all round.
Lucienne: Beth Cordingley.
Pontagnac: David Antrobus.
Vatelin: Stuart Fox.
Jean/Victor: James Joyce.
Redillon: Damien Matthews.
Madame de Pontagnac/Clara: Amy Neilson Smith.
Heidi: Rebecca Egan.
Soldignac: Jonathan Tafler.
Armandine: Sarah Winter.
Hotel Manager: Brian Miller.
Pinchard: Vincent Brimble.
Madame Pinchard: Auriol Smith.
Director: Sam Walters.
Designer: Sam Dowson.
Lighting: John Harris.
Assistant designer: Katy Mills.