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L’Archipel Théâtre

One day, Lette’s life turns upside down. This brilliant engineer learns that he is…ugly. Because of this “objective ugliness” upon which his entourage agree, his boss decides that he will not present in a congress the technology which he is the creator. From that point begins a descent into hell for Lette. He resorts to plastic surgery and has his face totally reshaped. His relations with the others, and especially with women and his wife in particular, are considerably changed.

But the unscrupulous surgeon who worked on Lette’s face does not stop here and reshapes the faces of lots more people, using Lette’s new face as a model. The character has the sensation of meeting himself in the street or at work, his own wife does not recognize him and even has sex with one of his look-alikes (because, if they have the same appearance, “it doesn’t matter”). Lette gradually turns mad.

This staging proves that you do not need lots of means to express the political and subversive dimension of one of the best of Mayenburg’s plays. This small place, as many others in Avignon, even permits an appreciable proximity with the audience. So I can look very closely to these four actors playing on their own the six roles, as the author recommends it, which gives rise to beautiful (and very quick!) transitions from a character to an other. The performance of Axelle Lerouge, who plays Lette’s young wife and Lette’s mistress aged over 70 years, is especially remarkable. Finally, everything happens as if human beings become interchangeable because they all obey to the same arbitrary beauty standards. Camille Jouannest expresses very well cynical humour of Mayenburg’s writing – for instance, in those excellent moments when the surgeon is associated with a butcher, if not to a torturer or a bloodthirsty murderer killing people with a drill! This staging bias, and many others, reveal some very current problems, concerning mostly young people. This dystopian play shows the alarming victory of uniformity upon difference and denounces an era of appearance and superficiality – as one can experience it everyday on Instagram or on other harmful social medias. Thanks to the company 15000 cm2 de peau for reminding us that such a totalitarian world is not so far away from ours.

Résumé en français:

Lette, un brillant ingénieur, apprend du jour au lendemain qu’il est extraordinairement laid. Il décide alors de recourir à la chirurgie esthétique, ce qui transforme ses relations avec les autres et révèle la véritable personnalité de ceux qu’il considérait comme ses proches… La mise en scène de Camille Jouannest restitue bien toute la dimension subversive, voire dystopique, de cette pièce du grand Mayenburg. Elle nous rappelle qu’on n’est peut-être pas si loin d’une société où des standards de beauté arbitraires écrasent l’individu pour fonder une nouvelle forme de totalitarisme.

  • By Marius von Mayenburg
  • Directed by Camille Jouannest
  • Lights by Ivan Marquez
  • Cast includes: Vincent Breton, Hubert Girard, Axelle Lerouge, Laurine Villalonga
  • L’Archipel Théâtre

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