Screened as part of the 2018 Fugard Bioscope World Arts Cinema Season Part 2. From Comédie-Française.
Octave and Léandre’s amorous intentions are thwarted by two authoritarian fathers who have just returned from a trip with determined to marry their sons to two strangers. They young men turn to the wily Scapin for help, placing their fate in his hands
Denis Podalydès returns as a director to the Salle Richelieu with Scapin the Schemer (Les Fourberies de Scapin) a play that has been performed more than 1,500 times by the Comédiens-Français but which has not had a new production for twenty years.
He likes the idea of a “troupe play, written not for the Court but for the people”, and premiered in 1671 at the Palais-Royal during a period of construction work. For this play, Molière was free of the constraints of comédies-ballets and machinery-driven comedies: it was “pure theatre”, offering the director a great freedom. The action is set in Naples, a door opening to an imagined maritime world stretching towards the Orient. Faced with two authoritarian fathers, two sons, both thwarted lovers, turn to the crafty Scapin, driven by a mad desire for revenge. The character is a double of Scaramouche, the Italian actor of the adventurous life whom Molière admired: “to tell you the truth, there are few things that are impossible for me, when I put my mind to them”. While the buffoonish servant gets beaten with a stick, and gives as good as he gets in the famous scene with the sack, Denis Podalydès recalls that he derives his name from the Italian verb scappare which means “to escape”, “to scamper off”. There then follows, in an ambiance of ransom demands and paternal contradictions, an avalanche of stratagems and other tricks which the author excelled in depicting.