John Cleese's 'new' farce | ...and there was a dead parrot involved © Rose d'Or

John Cleese's 'new' farce

...and there was a dead parrot involved

John Cleese has adapted a 19th century farce for the stage… and it involves a dead parrot.

He has revived Georges Feydeau’s 1892 play Monsieur Chasse, about a man who claims to be going on hunting parties when he is actually cheating on his wife, Léontine.

But Léontine once declared her own love to another man, a doctor called Moricet, when in the throes of grief over the passing of her pet parakeet – at least according to the original script.

However a publicist for the new production said: 'I don't believe that there is any reference in the script to a parakeet.'

Cleese said of the show: ‘The play is a typical French farce which means almost always that it’s about infidelity, which leads to ludicrous situations where people are trying to hide things which are happening, and pretend that things which are happening aren’t happening.’

The Fawlty Towers star first revealed he was working on a French farce in an interview with Chortle in 2014. Then he said of the play: ’It's brilliantly plotted. The dialogue is not that great – I can't judge how good it was in the original French, but the English version is just dreadful so I am going to rewrite it all, change a little bit of the plot.’

His adaptation, retitled Bang Bang, will be directed by Nicky Henson, who played Mr Johnson, the open-collared, medallion-wearing, leather-trousered playboy in the Fawlty Towers episode The Psychiatrist.

It runs from February 24 to March 11 at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, Essex. The venue’s artistic director Daniel Buckroyd called the production ‘a classic French farce with a distinctly British twist courtesy of the incomparable John Cleese’.

Cleese has long been a fan of Feydeau, and says: ‘I love farce because it’s a little bit wild. Farce gets bigger laughs than any other kind of comedy.’

In an early scene in Monsieur Chasse, Moricet recalls to Leontine: ‘Do you remember your parakeet? She had just died, your poor little parrot…she had just succumbed, Poor animal, and we were there, all three: you, the deceased, and I. Your husband had gone out. Do you remember your crisis of tears? And I consoled you… And then you let escape this: “I love you”.’

Published: 12 Jan 2017

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