Photos - David Wilson
A US playwright and a French theme has produced an unexpected hybrid of a period story that is intriguing and informative in the hands of the Independent Theatre Company.
US Playwright Charles Smith has written a clever and witty script, that is also a romping tale about three generations of prominent French men – Le Trois Dumas.
As usual Independent has brought to life a script that pertains to serious literary giants. In this case the central figure is the prolific author Alexandre Dumas pere, best known for The Three Musketeers (Les Trois Mousquetaires) and The Count of Monte Cristo (Le Comte de Monte-Cristo). Dumas in Paris, France, like Dickens in England, serialised many of his novels, and was highly popular. He also wrote plays and magazine articles.
David Roach encapsulates the larger than life quality of the philandering Dumas, a man who seems determined to live only until the last bottle is empty. Elements of The Three Musketeers run throughout this play bringing light relief, humour and derring do to what is essentially a serious story.
Le Trois Dumas are – General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, his son Alexandre Dumas pere (author and playwright) and grandson Alexandre Dumas fils (also an author and playwright).
The lives of each of these three men are intertwined using dreams and delirium sequences to carry the story back to the past. At times a trifle cumbersome in application, these sequences none-the-less add intrigue and depth to the story.
Dramatist Smith is telling a story based on true life, a story steeped in French history with Napoleon, the Guillotine and the likes included. Nevertheless he has also brushed this story with an American influence – racial discrimination, something more prominently felt in American history than in French.
Shedrick Yarkpai’s role as the senior General Dumas is pivotal in this regard, and Yarkpai ably portrays a man who stands tall in himself while being belittled by society. His scenes with his son (Roach) and grandson (Peter Cortissos) are moving and enlightening.
Cortissos is also excellent as the youngest Dumas who bears the brunt of his father’s excess. He portrays all of the hurt, bitterness and derision that a young adult can feel for such an overwhelming and narcissistic parent.
Director Rob Croser has also gathered a first-rate ensemble of supporting actors.
Lyn Wilson is outstanding as the literary figure and feminist George Sand. Wilson is a tour de force eliciting much humour from her dry and witty lines.
Tom Carney steps forward with finesse, even with an American accent, as Victor Hugo and Peta Long is suitably coquettish as the courtesan Ida Ferrier.
Nicholas Ely is a highlight, delightfully wicked and wily as the foppish Felix Harel.
David Roach’s set design provides easy movement for the action which is set in the author Dumas’ homes, but lacks somewhat in inspiration. Piles of books are strewn around the stage, establishing the literary leanings and plenty of space for the thrust and parry in the Chateau de Monte Cristo, Paris, 1848.
Independent Theatre presents
Les Trois Dumas
by Charles Smith
Director Rob Croser
Venue: Odeon Theatre | Queen Street, Norwood
Dates/Times: July 23, 24, 28, 29, 30 at 7.30pm; July 25 at 4.00pm; July 27 at 6.30pm; July 31 at 2.00pm and 7.30pm
Tickets: $30 / $25
Bookings: (08) 8411 6661 | www.independenttheatre.org.au