Voyageur sans bagages (Jean Anouilh), 2003
The Duchess Dupont-Dufort has six families left on her list of possible claimants to Gaston's past, including his war pension. Her philanthropy may not be all it seems, since her nephew Albert has taken over the clinic in which Gaston has spent the 18 years since the war and appears to be using some novel methods to treat amnesia. The Renauds - landed bourgeoisie - are the favourite contenders. But Gaston is not impressed. He has seen it all before, and in any case the kinds of information he learns about the missing Renaud younger son Jacques is not quite what he might have hoped for as a past. Embezzlement, attempted murder and near-incest seem an excessive price to pay for a settled identity, not to mention a penchant for sadism towards animals and a few other related escapades. Gaston learns about these from a variety of sources - the servants, who are skilled at snooping and eager for gossip, as well as, in the case of the maid Juliette, a principal actor in it; his supposed elder brother George, who reluctantly parts with snippets of information which reveal his suppressed guilt and rage; George's wife Valentine, who is looking to resuscitate an old affair; and finally his mother, who has some painful disclosures to make about her relationship with Jacques just before he was called up. The first half of the play follows Gaston's somewhat reluctant pursuit of all these lines of investigation; the second half moves towards a decision on his part, which looks likely to be trumped by Valentine until just before the dénouement. As the other claimants begin to arrive, a small boy reveals to Gaston that he is the sole surviving member of the Madensale family. Suddenly a kind of Gidean epiphany opens up as Gaston realises that this is the chance he has been waiting for: evasion of the identity everyone is trying to pin him down to.
How nice it would be if we could have such an opportunity from time to time…maybe that's why people become actors.
La Duchesse Dupont-Dufort - Claudine Tourniaire
Maître Huspar - Gordon Turner
Gaston - Roger Baines
Madame Renaud - Dani Limon
Valentine Renaud - Bonita de Boer
Georges Renaud - Tim Oliphant
La Cuisinière - Annalisa Terrizzi
Le Chauffeur - Erwann Limon
Le Maître d’hôtel - Heather Caddy
Juliette - Michelle Clark
Le Valet de chambre - Clare Jenkinson
Le Petit garcon - Elina Zachariadou
Maître Picwick - Tom Ball
Director - Ralph Yarrow
Sound and lighting - Ralph Yarrow
Poster and set painting - Melanie Lavery
Thanks to: Rob Little, James Kloda and Jon Hyde from the UEA Drama Studio;
The Maddermarket Theatre; Dereham Costume Hire; The Art House;
The Last Wine Bar; James Sawrey-Cookson; Nick Snith; Carl Lavery and Nola Merckel.