Report: Avignon theatre festival 2014

Orlando or Impatience - biting but poetic comedy at Avignon

Orlando or Impatience in Avignon
Orlando or Impatience in Avignon (c) Christophe Raynaud de Lage/Festival d'Avignon

A biting comedy with topical references and a philosophical ring - not to mention a sado-masochistic culture minister is director Olivier Py's offering at this years Avignon Festival.


Orlando or Impatience, written as well as directed by Olivier Py, revisits one of his themes, the philosophical quest.

A young man goes in search of his father, falls in love with a young man and a young woman, meets many characters, from a passionate stage director to a gently sado-masochistic culture minister whose gestures recall a former French minister – not to say mimic him.

Amid an efficient and stylish rotating décor framed by white neon, with some ravishing - even outlandish - costumes by Pierre-André Weitz.

Interview with Olivier Py - Director of the Avignon Festival

Py works with several theatrical genres and references. There’s a skull and a smart fool which are tributes to William Shakespeare.

Orlando is a play where, as in poet Py's other plays and in Shakespeare, the word often takes centre stage.

“Shakespeare is the master. I can’t live without Shakespeare,” says Py.

Orlando (Matthieu Dessertine), his alleged father (Philippe Girard) – the director – and the multi-character fool who is at one time an elocutionist, one time an osteopath, and even an inventer of holes (Jean-Damien Barbin) have digested tremendous amounts of dialogue, not to say monologue.

Yet almost throughout the more than three-hour-long play Py and the actors maintain the audience’s attention, as the mood changes, from heroic to clowning.

The women’s roles, Orlando’s mother (Mireille Herbstmeyer) and girlfriend (Laure Calamy), keep the audience on track, entering and exiting, skipping or slinking, their costumes changing colour, if not their propos.

Orlando or Impatience is a biting comedy which takes topical swipes, fights back, gives hope.

Orlando or Impatience, if you want to hear well enunciated, often poetical and intense French is on at La FabricA until 16 July.

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