We should not let a year, a month rather, a week perhaps, pass without listening to Racine. Or, failing that, without reading it. His language is so beautiful, so noble in its grandiose simplicity that it fills the sensitivity and captivates the understanding.
One of the great merits of the new production of Andromaque at the Théâtre de l’Odéon by its director, director Stéphane Braunschweig, is to allow this admirable but dense text to be heard and understood.
The sound system, which, of course, may be surprising in a human-sized room where so many shows were given without this artifice, contributes to the comfort of the actors. Freed from the need to project their voice, they can modulate it, nuance it, without forcing their tone or distorting their diction.
The word is thus inscribed majestically in the purity of the stage with a constantly nocturnal atmosphere, carried by characters dressed in modern costumes with sober lines. On the ground, a bloody circle, a puddle hissing under the feet of the dark heroes of this tragedy of unrequited love and war still present in all minds and hearts.
Love without reciprocity
This Trojan War which, just as much as the surges of passion, inhabits, haunts, ravages Andromache, the inconsolable widow of the Trojan hero Hector, and Pyrrhus, king of Epirus and son of his murderer. But also Hermione, daughter of Helene whose kidnapping was at the origin of ten years of conflict, and Orestes who desperately loves this princess who is fleeing him. The spectator will invoke the mantra perhaps learned during his schooling: Andromache, it is the story of Orestes who loves Hermione who loves Pyrrhus who loves Andromache who loves Hector, beyond death…
Locked in their solitude, each is the prey of insoluble contradictions: Andromache, captive of Pyrrhus, must she give in to the blackmail of her “master” and marry him to save the life of Astyanax, the son of Hector whom the Greeks require sacrifice? Can Pyrrhus, whose murderous madness contributed to the eradication of Troy, consent to “the death of a child”? Will Hermione use her control over Orestes to push him to assassinate Pyrrhus who disdains her? In this chain of fatalities, Orestes is undoubtedly the most to be pitied: “Excuse an unfortunate person who loses everything he loves/Who everyone hates and who hates himself”…
Reason versus passion
Alongside these lost souls, confidants plead the cause of reason or at least the gentlest solution to ease their torments. Phoenix encourages Pyrrhus to ignore the Trojan Andromache; Pylades would like to “exfiltrate” his friend Orestes from this deleterious court of Epirus and bring him back to Mycenae; Cephise throws herself at the feet of Andromache so that she accepts a union which will save the young Astyanax… But what are these wise advice worth in light of the burning fire of amorous “transactions” and political hatred?
Pacing the stage like caged animals, stopping suddenly, the actors deserve the praise, and the audience – including teenagers on a school trip – concentrated and silent, unanimously applauds their performance. To the strong and fragile Andromache of Bénédicte Cerutti and the dark Hermione of Chloé Réjon, we will nevertheless prefer the painful Pyrrhus of Alexandre Pallu. Still in military fatigues, his tall figure bends under the burden of power or straightens up when his victorious pride is provoked. The verb is clear, incisive, as if carved into the bark of a tree.
Orestes pathetic and moving
As for Pierric Plathier, he gives almost “everyman” accents to his Orestes, before digging into the unfathomable despair which leads to the ultimate delirium. The character’s descent into hell is gripping with suppressed emotion only to burst into hallucinatory madness, in the famous tirade “For whom are these serpents that hiss over your heads? » Orestes collapses unconscious in the arms of the faithful Pylades and everything is finished.
The confidants also contribute to the cohesion of the cast, led by the very classic and elegant Phœnix by Jean-Philippe Vidal and the mysterious Cléone by Clémentine Vinais. Like us, they are helpless witnesses to the “mistakes that make people complain without making them hate” (1) these traumatized survivors.
Sunday December 3 At the end of the performance, meeting with the director Stéphane Braunschweig and the Théâtre et psychoanalyse collective of l’Envers de Paris.
Thursday December 7 and Sunday December 10, the performances benefit from audio description and that of Friday December 8 is surtitled in French.
Saturday December 9 and Sunday December 10, game courses for visually impaired audiences led by Alexandre Pallu and Bénédicte Cerruti.
Monday December 18, at 7 p.m., “meeting in the dark”, a blindfolded listening experience, based on Homer’s Iliad, under the direction of Pierric Plathier and Alexandre Pallu.
On tour from January 16 in Bordeaux, Lorient and Geneva.