Attila Marcel Summary
- Date:Jan 08, 2021
- Category:Attila Marcel
Attila Marcel, a play by Sylvain Chomet, revolves around a silent pianist, Paul, played by Guillaume Gouix, and his neighbor Madame Proust, played by Anne Le NY. The 102 min play leaves a nostalgic effect on the audiences. The play shows the audience how to build their own path instead of looking for pavements leading to treasures and glory. The play shows Paul’s character sleepwalking through life. He appears oppressed by his two old fashioned aunts. They nag him to win an international piano competition.
In an attempt to ‘help’ Paul, his aunts make him play at their dance course. His aunts don’t let him breathe and keep urging him to build a high profile career as a pianist. Paul’s downstairs neighbor, Madame Proust, a Buddhist who grows giant vegetables in her green garden, sympathizes with him. She gives Paul some mystical tea, a Madeleine, and some musical notes. This ‘drug concoction’ sends him back into his childhood.
The way Paul’s memories are played out involves highly technical work fused with brilliant aesthetics. The memories turn into sweet musical numbers. The specific numbers I personally liked were the ones showing Paul’s parents in a boxing ring. The choreography was dazzling as it fused wrestling and tango. The time setting or the place of the play was not clear. However, it apparently was the 1970s, especially during the flashbacks.
Chomet spread implicit tongue in cheek humor throughout the play. The audience never once laughed or chuckled. Slight winks were just enough to indicate the humor. The humor of the play was especially animated through characters like the doctor, played by Cyril Couton, who loves animals so much that he aspires to become a … taxidermist!
Luis Rego plays the character of Mr. Coehlo, a blind piano tuner. He loves his occupation so much that he ends up turning the staircase banister. Rego’s acting was exactly what it was supposed to deliver. The right amount of humor fused with the character’s expressions. However, there are occasions when the play seems a little goofy. The job of fusing a staged reality with an imaginary one is not an easy task.
The play bears a grim tone overall. Probably to set the base for the parts that take the viewers into the world of imagination. These parts seem like Chomet’s real playground. Gouix’s acting shines in these moments that let him go back and revisit his childhood. The director’s work and the actor’s brilliance come together in unison. It seems like the whole play revolves around those flashbacks.
As soon as the audiences return to the main story, it appears quite dull. Probably the actors were told to make it look really interesting so that the audiences should anticipate the fantasy flashbacks. The base-story appears quite dull. But Gouix made it interesting when he starts to evade his aunt’s suspicions of his activities and the innocent advances of the Chinese cello player, played by Kea Kaining. All the time during the play one cannot help but marvel at the director’s brilliance. For instance, the cartoonish representation of characters increases.
The audience does not expect the directors to increase the animation in the play but the transformation of Madame Proust from a goddess into a human is somewhat unexpected. The decoration of the stage was like a dollhouse. And Francophone pop music was playing on vinyl and the actors wearing really small clothes can puzzle the audiences.
But as the play carries on, the audiences understand that this is part of the cartoonish representation. The main characters did an amazing job with their acting. It was believable and the audiences can simply get escorted into the staged reality under their acting. However, the rest of the crew was not as impressive. It did take away some of the charms from the play but the story revolved around Paul and his childhood, so, it delivered what the audiences expected of it.
The production design and the makeup of the actors were impressive. There is nothing anyone could add to or take away from it. The light humor that puts the audiences in a light mood but not set them laughing was probably the highlight of the play. The set-design, especially Madame Proust’s garden, and her acid-trip house, simply make the audiences stand up and appreciate the efforts of the art directors.
Overall, the play was fun to watch. The audiences do not leave the theatre puzzled wondering about its theme. They simply enjoy the feeling of being enchanted by the director’s work and the emotional appeal of the actors. In my opinion, Chomet’s direction and Gouix’s acting put life into the play.