La Cage Aux Folles [the Play] at Park Theatre
La Cage Aux Folles has had many guises but Park Theatre is currently showing the premier of the original French plays’ English language adaptation by Simon Callow. The play focuses on couple Georges and Albin and Georges’ son Laurent. Laurent announces to his father that he is engaged however his fiances parents are coming to stay and her parents are right wing aspiring politicians. This means that a whole host of changes has to be done to the property as well as to Georges’, Laurents’ and their staff’s attire and demeanour.
The show is a million miles away from ‘I am What I Am’ and instead presents itself as a farce. The lines are played for laughs and the fourth wall is broken frequently throughout the show. At times it did feel as if some of the laughter was forced and rather than letting the comedy come naturally there was a plethora of melodrama and over the top accents. Often this melodrama meant that the character and plot came second in the play. The breaking of the 4th wall felt inconsistent and as a result it was difficult to feel at ease as an audience member and unclear if we were an observer or part of the action.
The time and the location feel almost unimportant in this show. Whilst we are told that the play is set in St Tropez we are faced very British accents and very little other means to place the action. The same applies to the era and whilst there is a small nod to it in some of the men’s suits it could have been set today and it wouldn’t have mattered to the play.
There was varying likeability in the cast. Michael Matus played Georges the owner of La Cage Aux Folles, the nightclub that his partner Albin performs at. Matus as Georges goes from henpecked husband to the only family member able to hold the facade that the right wing in-laws expect. He does this with charisma and is perhaps one of the few characters on stage you end up rooting for.
Paul Hunter is Albin, the star of La Cage Aux Folles. I would have liked to be able to recognise in Albin more of what had made him the star in his youth however he was able to come into his own during act 2 in taking on the role of Laurent’s mother! Jacob, the maid, played by Syrus Lowe often threatened to steal the show, appearing in a variety of extravagant outfits, determined to appear on stage at La Cage Aux Folles. His simple inability to walk in anything other than heels caused hilarity and he was remarkably watchable every time he appeared on stage.
La Cage Aux Folles was a pleasantly spent evening with a French farce but one where I would have liked to have seen techniques apply more consistently throughout the show.
To book tickets for La Cage Aux Folles and to see what else is on at Park Theatre, check out their website.