by Eugène Marin Labiche
Translated and directed by Jeremy Sams
1st October – 7th November 2015
The Ustinov Studio’s Autumn Season of French Farce opens next month with Eugène Marin Labiche’s MONSIEUR POPULAR, translated and directed by Jeremy Sams.
To ensure his romantic affairs with married ladies run smoothly, Célimare has a ruse. To keep things sweet, he befriends their husbands too, and in truth, he has been a wonderful friend. He remembers their birthdays, chooses their furnishings and employs their cooks. Everybody’s happy – even the dog. But when the 47 year-old prepares to leave the past behind and marry 18 year-old Emma, it’s easy enough to burn his lovers’ letters, but his mistresses’ husbands are simply not prepared to let him go.
Set in 19th Century Paris, this hilarious French farce, replete with songs and dances, is by Eugene Marin Labiche, (1815 – 1888), a consummate master of the well-made play, who wrote many of the most popular and amusing light comedies of the 19th-century French stage. Born into the bourgeois class that was to provide him with the social setting for most of his works, Labiche read for the bar and then briefly worked as a journalist before turning to writing fiction and stage comedy. The best-known of his works was Le Chapeau de paille d’Italie (1851; The Italian Straw Hat), which inspired René Clair’s 1927 classic film. Labiche’s plays show real insight into human nature and raised farce to a much higher level of literary accomplishment. He was to be a huge influence on the renowned farceur George Feydeau.
The cast of MONSIEUR POPULAR includes Charlotte Wakefield, who recently starred in the Main House as Laurey in the international tour of Oklahoma! and was Olivier Award nominated for her performance as Maria in The Sound of Music. Raymond Coulthard recently appeared alongside Jason Donovan in the title role of The King’s Speech on tour. Howard Ward has starred as Sergeant Willis in Downton Abbey, and recently appeared in the BBC’s adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. His West End credits include the original casts of the National Theatre’s War Horse, London Road and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; Gregory Gudgeon originated the role of Zazu in the UK premiere of The Lion King; Stephen Matthews was the original Noah Claypole in the recent revival of Oliver! at Drury Lane and has starred in The Producers andThe Lion King; Nicola Sloane played Rosemary in the National Theatre’s London Road, and has also appeared in The Woman in Black, The Sound of Music and Les Miserables;; Karoline Gable has appeared in numerous musicals in her native Germany and in the critically-acclaimed UK premiere of Amour at the Royal Academy of Music; Iain Mitchell has appeared extensively with the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as appearing in Birdsong in the West End. His film credits include Paddington and the part of Oliver Cromwell in The Other Boleyn Girl.
Jeremy Sams is an award-winning director whose credits include Noises Off, The Little Britain Tour, The Sound of Music, Educating Rita, The Wizard of Oz and Peter Grimes. His many translations include Les Parents Terribles, The Miser and Mary Stuart. He also translated Exit The King for last year’s Black Comedy Season at the Ustinov Studio, which starred Alun Armstrong and Siobhan Redmond.
The Ustinov’s Season of French Farce is completed with The One That Got Away by Georges Feydeau, from 12th November – 19th December. Directed by Laurence Boswell, The One That Got Away stars Frances MacNamee, who will be familiar to Ustinov audiences from her lead roles in the Ustinov’s Spanish Golden Age seasons in 2011 and 2013.
Box Office: 01225 448844/ www.theatreroyal.org.uk/ustinov