Thirty-five years after its cinema release, The Circle of Dead Poets is growing. Or ? At the Antoine Theater. With, in the role of literature professor John Keating, Stéphane Freiss. In the film by Peter Weir (Oscar-winning screenplay by Tom Schulman) this character is played by Robin Williams. In other words, a real gamble for Freiss.
Watching the film again, we understand why the theater took it over. There is already shaped material there for the boards. Everything is there: place, action, time, replicas engraved in marble, well-drawn characters, an atmosphere, that of a group of boarding school students.
Directed by Olivier Solivérès, renowned for his shows for young people, this version does not push itself and runs like hell. The desks keep sliding from one end of the stage to the other, spinning like bumper cars. Sometimes, the classroom with its imposing blackboard turns into this famous cave, where a handful of refractory college students meet at night to recite poems. Of course, the viewer expects Keating as the messiah. And here he stands up - he was sitting in the audience - at the call of the dean of Welton, an establishment whose reputation is based on four pillars: tradition, honor, discipline, excellence.
Immediately, Freiss, with his three-day beard and disheveled hair, makes a good impression on us; straight away, he picks us up. We feel that with him discipline will take a hit. Moreover, from his first lesson - the one where, standing at his desk, he shouts to his tender youthful brains the famous “ O Captain! My captain ! » - we almost forget Williams.
In the class, the six students in uniform (we are in 1959) are Tod the shy (Hélie Thonnat), Charlie the rebel (Audran Cattin), Richard the lover (Maxime Huriguen), Meekx the nice guy (Pierre Delage) , the timid Gary (Maxence Seva) and poor Neil who dreams of being an actor although his tyrant father sees him as a doctor. Neil (touching Ethan Oliel) is the one through whom the drama happens. These young actors are endearing and their characters are deeply linked to their mentor. To spend, rather. Because Freiss seduces with his relaxation. He plays wonderfully this non-conformist to whom his flock will later pay tribute. They will remember his freedom of being, all the good and loyal things he represented; he will have been the one who made them discover the true meaning of life. But Freiss not only captivates his class, he also embraces the audience. Bet won, then.
At the Antoine Theater (Paris 10th). Such. : 01 42 08 77 71. www.theatre-antoine.com
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