Paris Tales - Thame Theatre

     This light-hearted comedy by Robert Duncan is a blend of mystery story and spoof.

      Set in Paris, it centres on a group of four writers who meet at a café for a few drinks and to catch up on their news. They write in very different genres. André (Martyn Ross) writes spy thrillers, in the manner of John Le Carré, but has yet to produce a convincing best-seller. Delphine (Anne Lankaster) writes murder mysteries, the  classic who-dunnit. Louis (Warren Palmer) writes the script for a long-running TV soap series, Ringing in the Seine, which has made him a lot of money. He is the only one of the group who is really successful from a financial point of view. François (Andy Dale) is a song-writer who aspires to create a successful musical and be the next Andrew Lloyd Webber.

      When a young English couple comes to sit at a nearby table, and the woman disappears into the café for a surprisingly long time, all four writers speculate on what could have happened to her. Has she been delayed, abducted, arrested or even murdered?  

     What we then get is a series of scenarios acted out, in a surreal fashion, showing each writer's version of events. François imagines a romantic musical scenario, complete with dancing, all in a fairly cringeworthy style. 

     André imagines an espionage plot, Delphine imagines a murder, and Louis imagines a ludicrous melodramatic confrontation. Each time the girl acts a different character. Finally the mystery is solved and of course they are all wrong.

     While the script is witty, it shows the friendly banter between the four rivals very soon get out of hand, mainly because of the frankly insufferable André, whose mockery soon descends to scornfully belittling the others, and he displays his full envy and resentment at Louis's financial success. Louis responds with urbane tolerance and ridicule of André sexual vanity. Only Delphine dares to tell André to stop bitching and shut up. 

     Most of the actors were well-cast, André and Delphine were sharply characterized and the young lovers were well-matched. Sophie Chamberlain managed the singing and the sudden character changes of her role ably. Presumably the casting of Théo was intended to be a joke. Those actors who occasionally needed the prompter need to brush up before the final performances on 12th and 13th May.

     Looking for some way to escape Eurovision? Then you could do worse than spend the evening at Thame Theatre.