BWW Review: DEALING WITH CLAIR at Théâtre Des Capucins
We sure have missed covering theatre plays in English. Last Thursday, the Théâtre des Capucins opened its doors to Dealing with Clair, a play by British playwright Martin Crimp, which touches upon multiple social dynamics of 1980s London. From the value of women in society, to the dark side of a shallow middle class, this is the sort of story that might get you some laughs, but that will ultimately leave you with a sense of unease for how accurately it manages to portrait the modern everyman.
The show introduces us to Mike (Raoul Schlechter) and Liz (Elisabet Johannesdottir), a couple eager to sell their London house at the best possible price. Their marriage seems as banal and uneventful as any other relationship of the middle class, yet somehow this sale manages to awaken in the two certain traits of amorality. The real estate agent called to deal with the property is Clair (Whitney Fortmueller), a young woman who does her best to be independent and the master of her own fate. It is through her that the couple meets James (Jules Werner), a mysterious buyer who claims to be wealthy and very willing to acquire a house in the capital. Clair's beauty and involuntary charm immediately grasp the attention of both men, something that further complicates the negotiations for the young agent. As if this deal was not complicated enough, the couple's Italian babysitter, Anna (Hana Sofia Lopes), soon reveals a strange connection to an unknown investigator (Matthew Brown).
There is nothing that we would have changed in Fortmueller's Clair. Picture an objectively beautiful woman with an objectively beautiful smile. Someone who must, however, smile with the right measure of friendliness and professionalism in most of her social interactions. A woman who very often must deal with clients that give her few reasons for joy. Expressing all of these traits in one character and still turning her into more than just a victim is by no means an easy task, yet one perfectly nailed by out leading lady.
Werner was perhaps the best performer of the night. One could say that the permanent mystery behind this character, from James's ambiguous intentions to his philosophical rants, did give the actor and director Anne Simon a greater room of manoeuvre to create a more unique persona, as opposed to the other more rigid characters in the play, yet Werner's performance was on point at all moments. Some clues about his motives and personality begin to surface during his conversations with Mike, Liz and Clair, yet James brilliantly dodges suspicions with plain rhetoric and unexpected charm.
Johannesdottir's Liz was a strong, well-built and interesting character, but as someone who covered Simon's Stupid Fucking Bird, it was particularly interesting to watch the actress display notorious versatility, in a role that is significantly different from her previous one. Schlechter and Brown were also members of last season's cast, performing admirably once again, yet Johannesdottir faced a greater contrast in her roles, a challenge that only allowed her to shine further.
Lopes gave us the most entertaining character. Her role in the plot was perhaps hard to follow, yet watching her on stage was always a delight, from her carefree behaviour to her clumsy mannerisms and expressions. Her Italian accent was not too forced, nor too light and provided a well-deserved comic relief to an otherwise sober play.
We look forward to seeing Anne Simon's next play and we thank everyone involved for bringing to Luxembourg yet another play in English.
Image credit: Boshua