THE PATRIOTIC TRAITOR, London, to March 19

The Patriotic Traitor
By Jonathan Lynn

Park Theatre, to March 19
Clifton Terrace
Finsbury Park,
London, N4 3JP

Evenings: Tues – Sat 7.30pm
Matinees: Sat & Sun 3.00pm

Runs: 2hrs 30 mins with 20 min interval

By phone: 020 7870 6876

Pay What You Can offer on the second Tuesday performance (in person at the box office from 6pm on the day only, subject to availability). 

£12.00 tickets on Tuesdays are available for any North London ‘N’ postcode. 
(subject to availability)
Twitter: @ParkTheatre

Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen Feb 25, 2016:

Comedy or drama? – Not quite sure
Jonathan Lynn is best known as co-writer of the humongous successful Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister with Antony Jay. Comedy is clearly one of the weapons in his armoury and his account of the strained relationship between two major figures in modern French history, Marshal Pétain and Charles de Gaulle is nothing if not mischievously revisionist.

Pétain is irrevocably now associated with Vichy France and France’s humiliating collaboration with Hitler’s occupying powers.

Lynn however takes rather a different line. In Tom Conti’s portrayal, the elderly Pétain, a popular soldier who twice `saved’ France in WW1, but well into his seventies when he signed the Armistice with Germany, is a benign, kindly figure in a story told in flash-back as he waits after being tried and convicted of treason.

On the one hand, Lynn’s intention is to ask how today we are to judge the actions of a man like Edward Snowden by exploring Pétain, the `traitor’ and `De Gaulle, the `war-hero’.

I’m not sure The Patriotic Traitor however really sheds much light or answers it though his examination of their strange, symbiotic, father-son friendship produces some interesting apercus on character and political destiny.

The two were certainly very different: Pétain, the pragmatic soldier drawn to strategic withdrawals, De Gaulle, arrogant, romantic, filled with ideas of `la gloire’ and nationhood.

Ambition, pride and the philosophy of leadership (de Gaulle was a great student of Nietzsche) are all examined against a dominating map of France and the years between WW1 and the end of WWII.

Lynn’s writing is workmanlike, sprinkled with shafts of interesting insight and Laurence Fox makes a suitably stiff and awkward De Gaulle. A raft of subsidiary characters – amongst them the excellent Tom Mannion as various French generals and British’s devious Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax – add flesh to the great men’s fictionalised discussions.

But truth to tell, it all feels a bit ponderous and old-fashioned – a history-bio that only occasionally sparks into dramatic life as if Lynn himself wasn’t quite sure whether he was writing drama or comedy.

Still, at a time of such European scepticism, it’s good to see an unknown corner of the French foreign field being refreshingly aired.

The Patriotic Traitor
By Jonathan Lynn

Canon Pottevin, Cadet, Deladier, POW Officer, Léon Blum, Laval: Niall Ashdown
Cadet, General le Gallet, POW Officer, Payen, De Courcel, Pomaret: James Chalmers
Philippe Pétain: Tom Conti
Charles de Gaulle: Laurence Fox
Yvonne de Gaulle: Ruth Gibson
General Joffre, General Herring, General Weygand, Lord Halifax: Tom Morrison

Director: Jonathan Lynn
Designer: Georgia Lowe
Lighting Designer: Mark Howland
Sound Designer: Andrea J. Cox
Assistant Director: Martha Geelan

Producers: Bob Benton and Daniel Brodie for DB Productions

Presented in association with Park Theatre.
First performance of The Patriotic Traitor at Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, Feb 17, 2016

Twitter: @ParkTheatre

2016-02-28 16:14:07

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