On the stage of the Théâtre des Abbesses, Snow-White gets a serious makeover…
“I play the evil part in this tale…but that’s just the point, everything you’ve been told is false. And I know someone who is far from white as snow. Nobody has ever asked me for my version of the facts. Well, since you’re here, I’m going to give you the true story». So states the evil stepmother at the beginning of the tale. We are warned: Snow White gets a serious makeover by the La Cordonnerie company who turns the tale into something fresh and new with this delightful stage version playing at the Théâtre des Abbesses in Paris, during the entire holiday season.
Snow White or the Fall of the Berlin Wall” is primarily delightful by the way in which it revisits the myth. Here we are in the late 1980s, in a Parisian suburb high-rise which is part of a social housing complex pretentiously named: “The Kingdom”. Elizabeth, a flight attendant in her forties, is singlehandedly bringing up her step-daughter, Blanche (Snow White), an impossible teenager typical of her age group.
The young girl lost her mother at birth and her father, a man truly made of thin air, disappeared in Russia when she was 6. He was suddenly hired to become a trapeze artist in a famous Moscow Circus. So Blanche stayed on with Elizabeth. At the time of this story she is fifteen, has a Gothic look, a Prince charming called Abdel, a yearning for independence and the Berlin Wall has yet to crumble.
Theater, film and music
In the version of Snow White by Métilde Weyergans and Samuel Hercule, the artistic directors of La Cordonnerie, the house in the middle of the forest is a tent set up by the runaway teenager, Dopey, Grumpy and co are actually garden gnomes, and the poisoned fruit becomes a crate of candied apples sent by her distant father for her 16th Birthday, apples which she devours until she is sick to her stomach…And there is definitely a magic mirror: a real mirror, the bathroom mirror of the high-rise apartment, spouting sentences in its deep voice like an echoing chamber for the delusions of the step-mother and the step-daughter.
THE TALE PLAYS ITS ROLE TO PERFECTION, PUTTING FEARS, DELUSIONS AND FAMILY CONFLICTS AT A DISTANCE
This Snow White is also delightful by the way in which the tale is told. As with all their shows, La Cordonnerie joyfully mingles theater, film and music. The filmed images of Elizabeth and Blanche’s daily life are dubbed live on stage by Samuel Hercule and Métilde Weyergans along with the soundtrack effects. This mix between the home-spun craftsmanship of the theater and the animated image always manages to produce a form of poetry. Here, it is particularly successful, playing on an offbeat realism where the magical and the irrational infiltrate, as in life.
As a result, the tale plays its role to perfection, putting fears, delusions and family conflicts at a distance. This is the lesson so craftily formulated in this show: it’s always possible to make the Berlin Walls that rise up in all families crumble – and besides, aren’t all families, an ongoing reconstruction.