Reviews of CYPRIENNE
Directed by Barrie Howard for Constantiaberg Theatre Players
Masque Theatre Muizenberg until 1 June
Bookings: 021 788 1898
Lieske Bester reviews.
This delightful and classy comedy evokes the A-team’s famous slogan:
I love it when a plan gets together! (or words to that effect).
In this case it is the fusion of sophistication, high carat sparkle and authentic style that is so gratifying.
Translated and adapted by David Nicholson from the French Divorçons by Victorien Sardou the play is set in the 1920’s. Not as revolutionary in content as the original would have been at its first showing in 1880, the current production is testimony to two talented writers. Creative direction validates not only the superb set and costumes, characterisations and interaction of the cast but endorses every other elegant detail of the presentation.
As Cyprienne, the willowy Olivia Thompson makes a remarkable debut on our local stage as she beguiles and bewitches the males in her life as well as the audience. Wanting change and romance husband Henri is soon to be replaced by the much younger Adhemar who adores her – quite simple now that new laws have made divorce much easier for all.
That is the theory – but a clever strategy planned by her suave spouse muddies the waters somewhat…
Anthony Storr Lister fills the role of Henri with confidence (watch out for the hilarious mathematics on marital intimacy) and Wayne Ronné is an endearingly gullible suitor as he is subtly manipulated by his much more experienced rival.
Michael-John Phillip makes an impressive double debut as Bastien, the amiable Des Prunelles major domo, and again as Philippe the waiter, a gem of a cameo.
James Skilton, Jenny Brandt, Liz Roodt and Alida van Niekerk all add their own flavour to the flirtatious story line, which packs some pithy punches along the way.
I always admire a player who makes a mark at the tail end of the story and Daniel Enticott does just that as the hassled Inspecteur Jamarot.
C’est très bon!
Copy of Cyprienne’s review published in the Cape Times 29 May
SHEILA CHISHOLM reviews.
CONCEIVED by French author Victorien Sardou and first performed in 1880 under the title Divercons, this version is David Nicholson’s translation. Retitled, Cyprienne is a merry romp poking fun at marriage and divorce in France during the roaring 1920’s. That’s the era which not only gave birth to the Charleston but women voted for the first time. They also discarded restrictive clothing opting for loose elegant dropped waist dresses, accessorized by long necklaces, feathered headbands and barred shoes. Indeed a period of freedom for women.
Not surprisingly Cyprienne (Olivia Thompson) – our beautiful heroine – preferred seeking divorce rather than struggling along in her boring marriage to wealthy Henri des Prunelles (Anthony Storr Lister). 752 days with Henri was quite enough. She’d switched her affections to Henri’s young cousin Adhemar de Gratignan (Wayne Ronne). He’s joined her in the ecstatic state of “being in love.”
Unfortunately standing in their way are archaic divorce laws. Fortunately, these are under review in the Chamber of Deputies. And that’s the background to Henri’s ingenious attempts to save his marriage. Into this equation pop widow Estelle Brionne (Jenny Brandt), discontented Mme Valfontaine (Liz Roodt) and buoyant Clavignac (James Skilton). This trio have personal reasons for interest in reformed divorce laws. They’re also not disinclined to offer matrimonial advice to Henri and Cyprienne.
Purists might take “um”at the cast’s nodding acquaintance with French pronunciation and chic manners. But Cyprienne is a social satire that can be placed anywhere. Wisely director Barrie Howard choose clear diction over false accents. This kept pace and humour ticking along.
Thompson’s debut in a leading role showed her as an actress with considerable talent. Exquisitely costumed in black, white and red “flapper” dresses Thompson’s Cyprienne delighted as, simultaneously, she flirted and toyed with her present husband and future-in- tended. Tall, dignified and monocle waving Lister worked with great dignity as he subtly manipulated his cause not to allow his cousin to cuckold him. Ronne’s Adhemar was everything Lister’s Henri wasn’t. He was gauche, somewhat clumsy and no intellectual match for Henri’s scheming mind.
In comedy Skilton can always be relied upon to lift proceedings to a different level. And he did so again. Dressed in striped blazer and boater his bubbly personality proved an excellent contrast to Henri’s more sedate nature.
Howard’s long experience in theatre gave him the sharp edge required to successfully produce comedy. Excepting smaller cameo roles which lacked conviction, the main protagonists brought instinctive understanding to their characters to give Cyprienne the necessary punch to make it a thoroughly entertaining play.
Tickets from R55. To book call 021 7881898