It seems that the end of 2019 is successful in terms of participating to cultural events 🙂 A few days ago I went to another play at the National Theatre of Bucharest – “The mute parrot. Stories almost true about an almost forgotten spy” (RO: Papagalul mut. Istorii aproape adevărate despre un spion aproape uitat).

As I usually like to do, I went to the play without any prior research, so I had no idea about the below-mentioned things. Only the day after the play I started to dig in and found out that the story is actually inspired by real happenings.

The play tells an episode from the story of Chevalier Charles d’Éon (who lived in the 1700s), a French diplomat and spy. Being on a mission to re-build strong relationships between Russia and France, Chevalier d’Éon dresses himself as a woman and gets close to the Express Elizabeth of Russia as Mademoiselle Lia de Beaumont, a young princess who helps the Queen write in French.

Imagini pentru papagalul mut
Lia and Queen Elizabeth. Image from TNB.ro

It seems that the real Chevalier d’Éon was famous for his abilities to present himself as a woman. After the mission in Russia, he continued to dress and act convincingly as a women until his death. It is possible that Chevalier d’Éon was intersex – individual with characteristics of both man and woman.

When it comes to the play structure, I found intriguing that one of the main characters played also the narrator role. This is in contrast to other plays I’ve seen recently, where there was no narrator on the stage. This experience was quite interesting, as the character, Douglas, was sometimes purely narrator (with lights focused only on him), and sometimes he “jumped” from the character role to the narrator role very quickly.

I also found interesting the way space was used. The scene has 3 layers, so while the narrator was telling a story there could be depictions in the back like in a painting. In addition, on the sides of the scene there were huge pillars with double purpose: on one side they were metal pillars, and on the other side they were baroque rooms / cupboards.

carousel 14021
Metallic pillar on the left, opened pillar (baroque room) on the right. Image from TNB.ro

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the play! With its brilliant actors and inventive decorations, beautiful vintage costumes and witty jokes, it is a play that I recommend dearly.

If you’re interested in reading more about Chevalier d’Éon, this is a book about his life published in 1911 and made available by Internet Archive organization.

‘Till next time … happy theatre-ing! 🙂

Georgiana


PS: Some logistical details about the play – it took place at the National Theatre in Bucharest. The ticket was 76 lei/person (approx. 16 euro)

Cover image adapted from TNB.ro. All other pictures also from TNB.ro.

  • Original name in Romanian: Papagalul mut. Istorii aproape adevărate despre un spion aproape uitat
  • Main actors: Vlad Logigan, Miruna Bilei, Mihai Calota, Magda Catone, Marius Rizea, Dragos Stemate
  • Director and musical illustration: Nae Caranfil
  • Assistant director: Tamara Creţulescu, Andreea Nae
  • Scenography: Dragos Buhagiar
  • Costumes assistant: Iulia Gherghescu
  • Decor assistant: Vladimir Iuganu
  • Scenic movement: Florin Fieroiu
  • Fencing master: Ionuţ Deliu
  • Technical directors: Laurențiu Andronescu, Andi Tuinea
  • Sound: Stefan Stanciu, Liviu Stoica
  • Lighting design: Cristi Șimon, Bogdan Golumbeanu

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