The promise of childhood. The one that makes the seat of consciousness. The one that is locked in the memory box. The one that resurfaces like Aladdin from his teapot. You are at the heart of Back to the Cherry Tree, the show by Alexandre Doublet, in Geneva these days, before the Théâtre de Vidy in Lausanne and the Théâtre Les Halles in Sierre.
In the huge hall that serves as the Comedy’s painting workshop, a house stands, its real metal frame. Spectators sit around this datcha skeleton. It is a sensory field, it envelops you and never lets you go for 1:45.
Return to Cerisaie. It took a form of crazy love for Anton Chekhov, also a faith in the dazzling power of a nocturnal word to rewrite his Cherries. This is what the Franco-Swiss director Alexandre Doublet did, after diffracting in 2019 Platonov of the same Chekhov, transformed intoIt does not update the part that does not need it. He incorporates it, the better, he adjusts it to his interpreters, the better, he inoculates it in the brains of the witnesses. And then it’s a gift of the shadow.
For the transfusion to work, he devised a device that makes each visitor a floating island. In the room, you settle where you want. You are connected to the actors in any case by an audio headset, the saucers of which emit a purplish light. The performers, meanwhile, play mezza voce this story of reunion and rupture, as if they were among themselves, singing softly an impossible farewell.
The sun by Marguerite Duras
See how it starts. Delphine Rosay Gomez Mata, black dress of mourner, cherry lips of pythia, stops at one newcomer and then at another. In the ears, an amused and youthful voice. She interviews children, asks them what they find beautiful in life, if they get sad, what school is for. They respond from the age of 7 with contagious freedom. The journalist in question is Marguerite Duras, commissioned in the 1960s by French radio. It’s a preamble and it’s a key.
You are floating and it is at this point that the proud Anne Sée, in the role of Catherine, enters the contest for memories. She walks, icy as a sleepwalker, a miniature bag at her fingertips. It is she who returns to the Cherry Tree, the domain of her youth. She left him when her little boy drowned. She wanted to forget everything in the arms of a lover, away from the cherry trees of yesteryear. But she did not resist the call of her brother, who remained there. Here he is, tied like a wedding day, embodied by the upsetting Pierre-Isaïe Duc.
Everyone is free to change their perspective and seat. To swing with Elie Autin playing Esther, to stare at the youth of Arianna Camilli, the mistress’s child, to wipe away the storm of Malika Khatir, the maid’s daughter who bought Cherry as Lopakhine in Chekhov’s text . You can also park in the same place and go down the river with the protagonists, sometimes overturned by the pleasure of a piano, sometimes by the gusting winds of Wuthering Heights sung by Kate Bush.
The beauty of Return to Cerisaie is to seep into every pore of daydreaming. Pierre-Isaïe Duc implores Anne Sée: “A memory, quickly!” She said, “We didn’t leave.” Later, when the Cherry Tree is truly lost, when Malika Khatir aka Lozen reigns over the lands of her former bosses, the brother will attempt a historic phrase. It can’t be better than “the sun is setting.” And she will have only a poor “yes” to ask at dusk. At that point, they will be as poignant as old orphans.
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Around them, their disarmed comrades will waver. And we with, helmeted sentinels who are red glows in the shadows, we who suddenly form a community of souls. All the ghosts of a childhood not completely lost. She returns, the time of a mind-boggling banquet, in The journey de Baudelaire: “For the child, in love with cards and prints…”
This mouth-shaped ending echoes the marvelous moments of Marguerite Duras. Return to the cherry tree is a requiem and a promise. Childhood, which is not a matter of age, cannot help but dredge the unknown. The Cherry is its cradle. All mirages are allowed.
Back to the Cherry Tree, Comedy of Geneva until June 18; Lausanne, Théâtre de Vidy, from June 22 to 25; Sierre, Théâtre les Halles, from June 29 to July 2.
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