Regent Theatre, 2/6 MacKay Street, Greymouth

28/03/2019 - 28/03/2019

Production Details

A play, full of passion and dynamism created from real letters from the soldiers of the Great War  

This play is a one-man show dynamic, modern and passionate. It is the story of a young man who went to war, with his innocence and who will discover the horrors for which no one had prepared him. To escape, he will have no other choice but to concentrate on the pleasures of life that will save him from going mad. A violent transition to adulthood but with irony and humour!

Created from real letters of ‘Poilus’ from the First World War, L’Homme de Boue, is a French show which has been on tour since 2014.

“How can we continue to live when horror becomes everyday life? How can we bear the terrible visions of the battlefield? Well, we get drunk! To forget. To escape even. And alcohol, women and tobacco seem to be the perfect remedy to accompany the soldier in these imaginary moments of consolation and courage.

“Come and share the plonk with us! Come and sing until you’re exhausted! Come on, let’s get into the dance and try to go all the way together, until the last breath. I am one of the many soldiers, I speak to you about all their voices and I come to tell you their stories.”

Performed in French with English subtitles

This play will be in:
– Greymouth: Regent Theatre, on March 28 at 7:30pm book now here!
April 1 : Glenorchy Hall 7:00 pm – $20 – payment on site
April 2: Queenstown Wakatipu High School 12:30 – $20 – payment on site (performance for students but open to everyone) – For students groups, contact: hommedeboue@gmail.com
April 4: Invercargill Scottish Hall – 7:30 – $25 / $15 – payment https://www.eventfinda.co.nz/2019/lhomme-de-boue/invercargill or on site (reservation appreciated)
April 5: Dunedin French Alliance: theatre workshop (in process), for more informations, please contact: hommedeboue@gmail.com 
April 10: Rotorua Boys’ High School 7:00 pm – payment on site – $5
April 11: Auckland French Alliance (in process), contact hommedeboue@gmail.com 

Special rates for groups of 10 or more people.

Theatre , Solo ,

A nerve has been touched

Review by Paul Maunder 29th Mar 2019

Live theatre in Greymouth is a rare enough event, but a play by a French theatre group, in French with subtitles, is a unique occasion, unique enough to cancel a rehearsal and go along.

L’Homme de Boue is pieced together from letters by WW1 French soldiers (with the occasional excerpt from English soldiers – the German equivalent would have been more telling); the emphasis of the writer being the contrasting of trench life (the familiar story of mud and corpses) with the escapism of wine, women and song, sometimes actual when on leave, sometimes the fantasies of the oppressed.

Visuals are back-projected throughout. By the end, the text moves into the existential angst and the political bitterness of infantrymen as they rightly judge the officers and politicians who create these human disasters. It is a good script.

The directing and acting, while touched with the charm and enthusiasm of the young, are less satisfactory. One person shows are tricky. Is the actor the traditional story teller with a pre-industrial audience of peers sitting around the campfire or in the peasant’s cottage? Or is it a lecture? Or is it the writer embodying his or her own story; or simply an actor taking centre stage? Or is it a singer come story teller? The choice is critical in terms of relationship to story, other imagined characters and audience.

They choose the actor taking centre stage and Lionel Pascal does so with French flair and enthusiasm. But the story demands the confinement and constraint of uniform and trench. In this case to have set the piece below the front of the apron stage with the audience seated around would have sufficed. Then there is the immense difficulty of comparative experience between now and then. The photographic evidence reveals that there were no young men in that war. They aged overnight.

Yet the show is good enough to be able to make these notes. There is sufficient substance and we can never be told too often of the absolute lunacy of war. At the end I am listening to the sounds of the theatre and the town outside with a certain awe. A nerve has been touched.

The show now moves south before playing the main centres.


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