In Audrey Schebat's La Perruche a married couple, while waiting for their friends to attend a small soiree, fall into disagreement and start to analyze the nature of their relationship. This couple, male and female, don a veritable wardrobe of well-worn married archetypes. Throughout the play we witness 1950's dynamics, 1990's sitcom banter, what feels like an allusion to A Doll's House, and contemporary technology. These masks, coupled with little analysis of social circumstances that somehow brought them to this state in 2018, create a loss of dramatic intimacy. However, actors Arie Elmaleh and Barbara Schulz are superb as they emit heat and passion within the artifice.

The dialogue in La Perruche is structured as a dramatic polemic on married life. Most of the territory is well trodden: accusations of infidelity, financial worth vs relationship worth, and lack of physical intimacy. Though the nature of their relationship, seemingly childless after many years, and living a Mad Men patriarchal standard in 2018, are curious and merit more attention than offered. Audrey Schebat seems torn between the intimate crackle of an Albee play, and archetypal analysis of relationship standards. Thankfully, the work is both joyous and brief enough that the performance never becomes burdensome.

Despite these concerns the two actors on stage are phenomenal. Admittedly given less to work with than his costar, Arie Elmaleh is very convincing in his role. He reads as a man who has been able to avoid accountability and self-reflection throughout his life through wit and charm. Barbara Schulz, as the wife who transforms from put upon Lucille Ball to resolute Nora, is superb. She offers to this character insecurity, fragility, and, ultimately, resolve. It is evident that the questions that the script leaves unanswered, are churning through her head.

Scenographer Edouard Laug has made a handsome set that echoes the ambitions of order and control presumed by the couple. Costumes by Ariane Viallet navigate the proposed balance of individual personality and archetype. Lighting by Lauren Beal, and sound by Francois Perony are excellently executed, even if, as guided by Schebat's direction, they ultimately add to the tonal cacophony of the play. Audrey Schebat has made an interesting relationship, and has brought wonderful characters to the stage. However, their dramatic circumstances seem to ignore the dramatic challenges of those virtues. These characters are unique enough to take their own intellectual course, and unpack their own specific problematic dynamics. To engage with this specificity will ultimately bring the audience closer.

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From This Author Wesley Doucette

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