L'invention de nos vies
The Age of Reinvention is an audacious, thought-provoking, fast-paced, thrilling play. Adapted from Karine Tuil’s best seller (L’Invention de Nos Vies, 2013), the play is a modern, unique, and captivating theatrical object telling the story of Sam Tahar who changed his identity upon emigrating to New York and built his whole career and family life on a lie. The extreme modernity of the story, painting a success-driven portrait of our society carries you away.
If in the beginning, Tahar (Valentin de Carbonnières) seems like an obnoxious boastful self-centred successful man, his character arc is beautifully written as you eventually understand that it’s because of the ambient racism, stigma, and colonial trauma that Tahar felt he had to change his identity. He renounces his Muslim culture and religion as a means of survival, cutting himself from his own mother and brother. You could think that the creators or distributors of the play could shy away from such a political play given the current political context in France which is divided more than ever, but their bold move pays off.
The stage design is always in motion, changing from New York to Paris rapidly and fluidly, from the bourgeois atmosphere of a loft to the obsolescence of low-income housing. Not only does it illustrate perfectly the political tensions currently present in France, it also says a lot about the US and the tension there was in New York post 9-11.
The comedians play ambivalent characters that we follow throughout their quest for happiness, intertwining complex plots in a succession of feverish scenes. The rhythm is fast-paced and the narration is very cinematographic, carried by seven comedians who interpret with virtuosity no less than 30 characters without any confusion possible. When Tahar is unfairly arrested and awaits his trial, his entire mental state is reflected through his body language with perfection. Nassima Benchicou (You Resemble Me, 2022) is especially stunning in her role of Tahar’s mistress, in her dilemmas, hesitations, guilt, passion, and wretchedness. She swaps from a heartbroken woman to a convincing journalist, a sexy clubber, or a fervent Jewish woman in a blink of an eye.
Currently showing at Théâtre Rive Gauche, the play will be coming to an end by the end of the year. Watch it. No matter where you’re from or what God you worship. It will spark a much-needed refreshing conversation around religion, racism, and current politics in France and in the US.
- By Karine Tuil
- Adapted by Johanna Boyé, Leslie Menahem
- Directed by Johanna Boyé
- Photo credit: Fabienne Rappeneau
- Cast: Valentin de Carbonnières, Nassima Benchicou, Yannis Baraban, Mathieu Alexandre, Brigitte Guedj, Kevin Rouxel, Elisabeth Ventura
- Théâtre Rive Gauche
- Until the 31st of December 2022
- Running time: 1 hour and 30 minutes