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Review: Theatre

La Tragedie Comique

La Tragedie Comique

Traverse, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

WAS there a moment, you wonder, when director Ian Cameron murmured: "Are you sure about this?" to fellow Plutot La Vie collaborator Tim Licata, or maybe even protested: "Are you mad?' Because even on paper, Licata's task - to translate and perform La Tragedie Comique - looks formidable.

But the whole concept of this theatrical dream-time - devised by Eve Bonfanti and Yves Hunstad in 1988 - clearly had Licati by the nose. It could equally be that the nose had him in thrall. The nose is what badges Licati as The Character.

Without the nose, he's The Actor. Nose on, he's garrulous, flamboyant, a creature full of imaginings, who has (so we're told) been biding his time in some cosmic casting agency until "his" actor arrives on the earthly scene.

Nose off, he is that saggy-baggy poor player, waiting to strut and fret his hour upon the stage.

For most of the time, these two are locked into a wrangle over who's in control. Who knows? Does the nose have it?

It is this dialogue-within-a-monologue that powers not just the cunningly engineered clowning and comedy mishaps, but also the Character's arias about the essential nature of theatre.

These seamlessly expand into philosophical reflections on life, death and the part we play before we're written out of the action - a sombre element that Ticati's translation, and performance, renders poignant yet witty in the same turn of phrase or shoulder shrug.

On stage, for more than 100 minutes, he keeps us totally engaged and entertained even as the script loops off in lengthy asides. Character or Actor, he is master of all he conveys.

Touring details on plutotlavie.org.uk

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