Cabaret Louise

Reviewer's rating

In these times of pandemic uncertainty, some small Parisian theatres stay open but have to welcome a very limited number of spectators. Such conditions create a different and intimate atmosphere that is particularly fit for certain shows – that is the case of Cabaret Louise, a refreshing cabaret that reinvents and disrupts the rules of high-brow French art and traditions.

Cabaret Louise is a gem of popular theatre and popular history that pays homage to French Communard Louise Michel (1830-1905), a great woman of the 19th century who is often erased from history books and from the French collective memory, while her (male) detractors are considered national heroes. The show aims to bring Louise Michel back to the centre of the stage and to enlighten a parallel history, one that focuses on women and on the people who fought for their freedom during times of political unrest in France.

Of course, such an unconventional activist could not be praised in a conventional show. This results in a truly chaotic but delightful collage that mixes popular French songs, revolutionary chants, history lessons, winks to the current political controversy, and feminist comedy. Then, far from being a boring and elitist show on a historical figure, Cabaret Louise reminds the public that history – just like theatre – has to be popular and accessible to all, because it is the history of the people.

Then, by reappropriating the codes of popular theatre – repetitive humour, domestic disputes, etc. – the two actors Charlotte Zotto and Régis Vlachos are incredibly efficient and make everyone laugh. The result is not a shallow comedy: they produce a fully fleshed reflection on revolution, feminism, and the links between the past and the present of France, inviting their audience to sing, laugh and think with them. Cabaret Louise is a modest but important production that reminds of the importance of the theatre as a place of culture and history for everyone.

French summary

“Je voudrais sans la nommer lui rendre hommage…” Cabaret Louise est une production populaire et militante, qui est extrêmement rafraîchissante dans le contexte actuel. La pièce rend hommage à Louise Michel, en la nommant et en lui donnant la parole. 

Les deux comé Charlotte Zotto et Régis Vlachos produisent, avec beaucoup d’humour, une relecture intelligente de l’histoire officielle de la Commune de Paris, mais aussi des codes du cabaret et du théâtre populaire. Le féminin l’emporte, à la fois au passé et au présent: le spectacle renvoie sans cesse à la situation actuelle et propose des solutions, à son échelle, pour agir pour les luttes d’aujourd’hui. 

C’est un cabaret enrichissant et revigorant qu’on ne peut que recommander pour réviser ses cours d’histoire, les paroles de Moustaki, et rire un bon coup.