A moving love story, Alexis Michalik between laughter and tears

THEATER – It all starts with a song: “And yet I only love you …” Without our understanding yet the place of the song of Aznavour … “A love story”, a simple title, the promise of a light and romantic piece? Improbable, an uncomplicated love story, especially when it is imagined by Alexis Michalik, the child prodigy of French theater. Author, director, he even got back on the stage for the play, at least the first season. For this new cycle, two teams share the performances.

The story begins with a certain lightness: a meeting between two women which quickly turns into a passionate adventure. Justine is sparkling and lively, Katia is more anxious, marked by childhood wounds that she tries to hide under a certain caustic coldness. From this love is born a desire for a child, an eternal pledge of their union. Until then it’s a nice love story, but which struggles a little to start despite the effects of the “Michalik leg”: removed narration, obsession with rhythm, “in vivo” transitions with the changes of scenery made by the actors, who each play several roles, real troop theater … Regulars will appreciate, novices will discover with delight, even if it is a more sober tone than some of his virtuoso staging.

Love lasts three years … The drama arrives and the tension rises a notch: the beautiful story cracks, so much so that Justine abandons her partner a few days before the birth of Katia. We are projected twelve years later: of this love story, only their daughter Jeanne remains, very rightly interpreted by Victoire Brunelle-Remy. We gradually learn the whole series of dramas that have punctuated this ellipse. The lively and spicy dialogues brighten up these dark themes. The scathing humor of the characters – in particular that of William, Katia’s brother, a successful author who can no longer write, confined in his misfortune – makes it possible not to fall into melodrama. Spicy, biting, touching, it is this “politeness of despair” which alleviates the darkness of situations, and a few dance steps instill a little grace in poignant paintings.

Between laughter and tears, we discover the wounds buried inside the characters, which sometimes led them to become what they always wanted to avoid being. How far are we determined by our personal history? Are we doomed to reproduce our wounds? What place for happiness when you have had more than your dose of unhappiness? Can we really heal? And forgive? To be an adult, said Goethe, is to have forgiven your parents. None of the characters seem to have overcome their injuries and managed to be truly adult: “how could I take care of a child when I do not even know how to take care of myself” says William … Finally, it is It is perhaps Jeanne who, despite her young age, shows a breathtaking maturity in the face of the misfortunes that overwhelm her. It is she who will prove to be a lifeline for her uncle. Has she ever forgiven or is she keeping her wounds buried? Simple, there is only the title of the piece. And it is without judgment, knowing how to take and make loved his characters as they are, that Alexis Michalik distils a few leads, delicately touches on these big questions. And underlines to what point the writing is saving, with Jeanne as with William – perhaps it is a mise en abyme, the author having written this piece following a rupture?

It is therefore with finesse that the author and director takes us into this “impossible” (and yet …) true love, served by remarkable, precise and inhabited actors. The homosexuality of this love story is left in its place: neither really trivial, nor really major in the story. A bias that may offend or give way to different interpretations, but which is a withdrawal behind its characters quite welcome, without being “released”: the political context is evoked, just enough to anchor in the reality of a period its history, but not too much so as not to weigh down its story with militant remarks.

And since in France, everything ends with songs, the loop closes with the inaugural song: “And yet I love only you” then takes on its full meaning …

“I will tear without a tear, without a cry / The secret bonds that tear my skin / Freeing me from you to find rest
And yet, and yet I will walk to other skies, other countries
Forgetting your cruel coldness / Hands full of love I will offer happiness
And the days, and the nights, and the life / Of my heart
And yet … Yet I only love you … “

“A love story”, at the Scala, until August 21, 2021.
Alternately with Clément Aubert, Pauline Bression, Juliette Delacroix and Marie-Camille Soyer or Stéphanie Caillol, Alexia Giordano, Paul Lapierre and Julia Le Faou.
And alternately Victoire Brunelle-Rémy, Lior Chabbat, Lila Fernandez, Elisa de Lambert and Léontine d’Oncieu

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.