Un Garcon d’Italie, inspired by the Phillippe Besson novel of the same title, follows three characters in the aftermath of a supposed suicide. There is the lover of 5 years, Anna, there is a figure of purposefully vague relation, Léo, and departed himself, Luca. Suicide is tricky territory. It can do too much and fall into the exploitatively melodramatic. It cannot do enough and seem carelessly (dangerously) blasé. With Un Garcon’s focus on the post suicide mystery, director/playwright Mathieu Touzé has smartly sidestepped such issues. While sometimes not properly calibrated to the intimate space, this ambitious play contains stretches of beautiful acting and ends in great poignancy.
Yuming Hey finishes the show off with aplomb and Mathieu Touzé delivers the departed with a mix of arrogance and charm. As the lover who is frightened and confused about the news of her lover’s apparent suicide, Estelle N’Tsendé is enthralling. In impossibly high heels, she commits to actions of the most profound grief with overwhelming restraint. She is there to solve the mystery of her lover’s and we feel as though we should do all we can to help. Lighting designer Renaud Lagier sets the mood as a balance between the dreamlike, and film noir.
Touzé has reduced a full novel to a sprinting hour and fifteen minute. This is no small task, and it is well achieved. His direction, when based on his adaptive structure, is superbly poetic. There are perhaps moments of distraction. Léo’s belting number is forced and too much a Broadway eleventh hour number for such a small theatre and such a photorealistic character. Also, moments of blocking could use a bit more development. One anticipates a little too easily the walking patterns on stage. Though, these are easily remedied details that do little to diminish the resulting artistic form.
Un Garcon d’Italie is now in performance at Théâtre Transversal at 10:35 (am)