Hundreds of Francophones from Fredericton and surrounding area were delighted by the comedy performed to mark the theatre company’s 25th anniversary.
On Saturday, April 29th, at the Bernard Poirier Theatre, at the Sainte-Anne Community Centre, the Fous de la scène theatre company performed for the 25th year in the row to the delight of the hundreds of Francophones present.
The 1967 farce “Not Now, Darling,” written by British playwrights Ray Cooney and John Chapman, was performed in its French adaptation, prepared by well-known Quebec actor Claude Maher. The side-splitting story centres around a furrier’s shop and the adulterous adventures of its owners, staff and clients. The play was made into a feature length “sex comedy” in 1973.
Started in 1993, the Fous de la scène is one of the longest-running community theatre companies in NB, and all its work is done by volunteers. One of the troupe’s founders, Robert Duguay, acted again in the play this year. In his role of Alfred Desgroseillers, an employee of the furrier, Duguay was at once haughty and naughty. His boss, played by François Varin –the present-day leader of the troupe- was equally talented in his role as the shop owner, caught between his frisky wife and his new love interest.
Rounding out the male performances, François Albert played playboy Henri Demontigny with a lot of assurance and style.
Female performances were equally as respectable. Pauline Bordage played the shy and proper employee, Huguette, with a lot of composure despite the highjinks. Cathy Verreault performed the furrier’s spirited wife, Maude, to a tee. She came back early from her trip to Florida to see her husband, but ultimately reveals her own sordid affair with Henri.
Johanne LeBlanc reprised her superb role from the ensemble’s 2013 production, No room for love (Sous-Sol à louer), as a libertine woman. As Henri’s wife, LeBlanc plays the furrier’s new love interest, coy and libertine, interested in trading favours for mink coats and fancy cars. Camille Hoarau was the perfect “airhead” stereotype as Linda, Henri’s other lover. Both Hoarau and LeBlanc need to be applauded for their bravery in performing near-naked (and draped in fur) for most of the play.
The two act play’s set was very well done, allowing for the hiding places necessary as the lover’s run away from their respective spouses. The use of the rear of the stage as a patio to the outside world was a brilliant idea. Costumes, make-up and lighting was very well done and suited to the actors and time period.
Director Dan Lessard’s choice to situate the play in 1967 was timely because of the commemoration of Expo 67, a year that plays well in francophone memory. As Lessard said in his director’s note, in 1967, “Quebec was at a boiling point.” The use of the Expo 67 song “Un jour, un jour,” by Donald Lautrec, to introduce each act was genius; its giddy optimism suited the play’s theme.
Given the general hilarity in the theatre, director Lessard managed the troupe’s production very well and is to be commended for another very successful play.
The play will be performed one final time in Northern NB, in the town of Neguac, at the La fontaine Community Centre on May 6, 2017 at 7:30pm.
Sophie M. Lavoie is an editorial board member of the NB Media Co-op. She writes on arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op.