An unconvincing adaptation of Camus’ « The Stranger » at the Denise-Pelletier Theater


To fit the stranger, the first novel by Albert Camus, published in 1942, the artistic director of the Théâtre Denise-Pelletier, Claude Poissant, called on Evelyne de la Chenelière. From the tribulations of Meursault, the author imagined Because of the sun, a piece that oscillates between two eras, two regions of the world, two couples and two climates. Unfortunately, rather than clarifying the relationship between the two space-times, the staging, the first signed by Florent Siaud at the TDP, as splendid as it is, confuses the issue.

Unless I’m mistaken, the last time Camus’ words rang out on the TDP stage was in 2008, when André Melançon was leading The fair. The previous time? Probably the memorable Caligula staged by Brigitte Haentjens in 1993. Yet designed to introduce adolescents to philosophical notions as fundamental as the absurd, and social realities as crucial as solidarity, Camus’ work has not been produced much these days. . Notice to Camusians: in January, at the TNM, we will be able to see I’m writing to you in the middle of a beautiful storma show by Dany Boudreault and Maxime Carbonneau based on correspondence between Camus and Maria Casarès.

Look for the cause

The action therefore takes place both in 1940 and in 2020, in Algeria and Quebec, under a blazing sun and in freezing cold. While Meursault and Marie come straight out of Camus’ novel, Medi and Camille, Quebecers of Algerian origin, come from the author’s imagination. In each of the stories, someone died in a totally senseless way, in odious indifference. The Arab died because of the sun, Meursault will say. The old lady died because of the snow, Medi will say.

The piece establishes rich correspondences between two eras where the notions of colonialism and racism, in particular, cruelly undermine living together. Why do some people still not have the right to a name, to an identity? Why are they reduced to a function, an anonymous role, which deprives them of humanity? At times, however, one cannot help but wonder if the second frame is really necessary. Does merely transposing the already complex narrative of the stranger wouldn’t have been enough?

The device imagined by Romain Fabre is, once again, sumptuous. Metallic cloud suspended above the stage. Curtain of fringes on which shores and faces are projected. Less convincing are the two turntables, not only because they are very noisy, but also because they do not contribute to the fluidity of the show. Pictorial at will, the staging is of great beauty, but of a cold beauty, which keeps the audience at a distance, in particular because it is careful not to clarify the links between the two intertwined stories.

Despite an undeniable physical and emotional investment, Mustapha Aramis – at least on the evening of the premiere – did not manage to communicate to his narration the necessary breath. In the role of Meursault, demanding because he deprives him of all anger, Maxim Gaudette is very fair, often disturbing. As for Évelyne Rompré, her luminous, captivating Marie, she alone is worth the detour.

Because of the sun

Text: Evelyne de la Chenelière, based on the work of Albert Camus. Director: Florent Siaud. At the Théâtre Denise-Pelletier until October 15.

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