In 1992 I had the pleasure of being directed by Simon Eine in my NIDA graduation play Image d' Moliere. Simon is an 'Honarary Associate' (having 44 years of service as an actor and director) of the Comedie Francaise, France's oldest theatre company established in 1680. Recently on my travels in Paris I caught up with Simon and had the great privilege of seeing him in La Marquise d'O. At an age when most have been retired from their profession for ten years, Simon is still a powerhouse on the stage, with a voice and the physique of someone half his age.
La Marquise d'O (based on Heinrich von Kleist's book) is the story of a Marquise trying to deal with a pregnancy she can't explain. It is a harsh story but the most beautifully told story I've ever seen on stage. I could not understand a word of the french drama but was mesmerised from start to finish. I've not seen such disciplined performances anywhere in the world; the actors' physicality was intense and their hearts immense as they jumped from addressing the audience directly in the telling of this amazing story, and slipping back into the action as they played their role in the drama.
One scene I found particularly emotional as tears formed in mine own eye: Simon as the Colonel and father of the Marquise has just found out how his daughter has become pregnant and appearing up stage, he makes his way toward the audience with his face in a handkerchief, all the while releasing the most howling wails of sorrow. The Colonel and the Marquise embrace ending with the Colonel sitting, with his adult child on his lap and stroking her hair as though she'd returned to her youth (pictured).
I consider myself privileged to have experienced this incredible production: the story amazing, the telling sensational, the cast incredible. Thanks for the honour Simon.
La Marquise d'O
Directed by Lukas Hemleb
Cast: Lucas Anglarès, Francine Bergé, Simon Eine, Cécile Garcia-Fogel, Brontis Jodorowsky with pianist Stéphanos Thomopoulos.