Silviu Purcarete with Scapino in England

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Silviu Purcarete with Scapino in England

From Mozart to Molière, he conquered audience from Tokyo, Melbourne, Vienna, Munich, London, Sao Paulo and others, and made me curious if the Romanian director deserves his place in the top. I previously had no occasion to see his plays on the stage, so on Friday, 10th of June 2005, at 07:30 PM I was at the Chichester Festival Theatre to see "SCAPINO or THE TRICKSTER".

Jeremy Sams wrote this witty English translation and adaptation (2005) of "Les Fourberies de Scapin" (1671) by Molière. Music was composed by Vasile Sirli, and is really catching! Helmut Stuermer is the designer & lightning designer. The set is in the lobby of a hotel, which is in a perpetual restoration: with chairs on the top of each other, debris on the floor, dust on the piano etc.

The show is in English and has British actors.

- SCAPINO (Richard McCabe), is an advisor - Argante (Pip Donaghy), a rich merchant

- Octave (Stephen Ventura), Argante’s son, in love with Hyacinthe - Hyacinthe (Katherine Tozer), Geronte’s lost daughter- Geronte (Steven Beard), an(other) rich merchant

- Leander (Kieran Hill), Geronte’son, married in secret to the gypsy Zerbinetta - Zerbinetta (Alexia Healy), Octave’s lost daughter - Silvester (Graham Turner), the barman-valet, with his gelled black hair, slow movements and avid reading of the newspaper - Nerine (Darlene Johnson), Hyacintha’s nurse (I figured out)- Carle (Christian Bradley), a friend of Scapino.

The absurd comic of the families’reunions is perfectly integrated in the global migrations, and to suggest this, on the stage they use the rotating door of the hotel.

The old merchants are thinking just how to make their business prosper through their sons’ marriages: Argante is even using his stick to make his son (or others) obey him (violence: in family/society) – he’s also beaten (by Scapino!); and Geronte, obsessed by wastage, takes care that the remains of his meals are scrapped into his diplomat bag (miser or… mindful – You name it)!

The characters of the young people are also exaggerated: the giant Octave is behaving as a shortsighted schoolboy (carrying his satchel with sandwich on the back) while the little Leander: is inept in front of his authoritative father…

Their lovers are also two characters with opposite personalities: Zerbinetta is full of life and aware of her sexuality, while Hyacintha is shy.

In the first act, Scapino, who’s sleeping on the top of the piano underneath a cover, comes to life when he has the opportunity to solve a difficult case. In the second, and last act, after things and thoughts become clear, and the young men and parents were happy with them, Scapino, was put on the top of the piano – where he played from time to time, injured and dying, left to breathe his last; while the families continues to take care of their own business.

The directing, adaptation, acting, scenography, music, the scent (all of a sudden Graham Turner put some meat on the BBQ…) and visual touches, make "SCAPINO or THE TRICKSTER" a very entertainment play to watch!

P.S.: The play is at Chichester Festival Theatre until Friday, 9th of September 2005. For more details see: http://www.cft.org.uk/