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Our review of Three times Ulysses at the Vieux-Colombier: beautiful as the antique

The Vieux-Colombier plateau is in darkness.

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Our review of Three times Ulysses at the Vieux-Colombier: beautiful as the antique

The Vieux-Colombier plateau is in darkness. A monumental horse skull stands out with the whitish silhouettes of its erect ears. Burned, sacked, Troy fell. A haunting chant and the voice of Clotilde de Bayser makes the words of Hecuba heard, who saw her children perish and is given as a “gift” to Ulysses. An involuntary martyr, she harangues “ this enemy of truth, this lawless viper.” “ Why can’t you do without me? », she asks him.

Mobile, the decor is reversed by the Unikanti Choir (from the Hauts-de-Seine Masters), and then reveals the cave, sanctuary of the goddess Calypso (Séphora Pondi in a blue dress), who suggests to Ulysses to “leave the time ". Following Hermes' injunction, with tears in her eyes, the Greek hero's lover authorizes him to leave her after seven years of living together. Finally, the bloody warrior returns to Ithaca and reunites with his wife, Penelope (the blonde singer Marie Oppert). She waited for him without aging, but remained silent at first.

Also read: The Iliad: sand, sweat and blood at La Scala

In the very demanding Three Times Ulysses (Éditions Espaces 34, represented by L'Arche), Claudine Galea pays homage to the women of Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey. She redraws an image of the character that has nothing to do with the “fearless and blameless hero” of school textbooks. Played successively with fervor by Sefa Yeboah, Baptiste Chabauty and Éric Génovèse, the lover, husband and fighter is by turns violent, surly, fiery and in love, fallible, even “in depression”. “Art is beauty whatever anyone says. Violence and disorder, but beauty,” assures the author. There is all this in this spectacle full of sulfur, where the cruelty of hearts competes with a tiny hope. Penelope finally speaks up. The roles are reversed. The man depends on the woman he believed to be submissive.

Claudine Galea worked in agreement with Laëtitia Guédon, director of Plateaux Sauvages, in Paris, who signed her first piece in the house of Molière. The latter illustrates the intentions of its colleague through a staging of surgical precision in a scenography of extreme refinement (on a panel glowing suns and dark waves parade). Three sequences immortalize the destiny of three couples who, in the absence of the gods, take their responsibilities, especially the women.

The actors of the Comédie-Française prove, if necessary, that no register can resist them and that they know how to give voice to all the meanings of the word. Combining theater, music and video, Claudine Galea's text unfolds in majesty with the risk that the form takes precedence over the substance. It is impossible to be attentive throughout this oratorio where human feelings are transcended by the presence of the Unikanti Choir which declaims songs from the 12th century, Aramaic or a Tri martolod. Beautiful as the antique!

Three times Ulysse, at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier (Paris 6th), until May 8. Res. : 01 44 39 87 00. www.comedie-francaise.fr

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