Table for two
"L'Hiver Sous la Table" is a crowd-pleasing and subtly satirical French satire about what happens when an ordinary woman decides to sublet the underside of her dining-room table to an immigrant.
By JOSHUA TANZER
(Originally reviewed at the New York Fringe Festival, August 2001.)
"L'Hiver Sous la Table" is more or less a good old-fashioned drawing-room comedy, full of polite conversation and good manners, but with just one absurdist twist there's a swarthy immigrant setting up house under our heroine's dining-room table.
And yet people go on as if everything is normal. It doesn't seem at all strange to Florence to sublet the space beneath her table to a poor shoemaker she just apologizes for having to charge rent, because she's a little short on cash just now. Nor does it seem strange to the grateful Dragomir it beats all the other places he's lived since coming to France, like in the cemetery. So everyone's happy and life proceeds normally as the shoemaker sets up his cozy little home and pounds on shoes.|
But life under a table is not always simple, as it turns out. One of the pairs of shoes under the table is accompanied by a pair of legs nice, shapely ones belonging to Florence, who's blithely doing her translation work above. Suddenly, the living is not so easy. And then there's the button.
Florence loses a button from her blouse and must ask permission to come down to Dragomir's place to look for it. "Of course," says Drago. "Make yourself at home." But two's a crowd under the table and, as it turns out, a steamy, open-bloused landlady crawling around your home is even more provocative than just her legs alone.
Into this potentially romantic situation drops Dragomir's cousin Gritzka from the old country, and he needs a place to stay too, so it's under the table with him. He doesn't mind the cramped quarters either, but it doesn't take him long to notice the legs dangling from above either.
"Oooh!" he exclaims. "Have you slept with her?"
"Listen!" says the shocked Dragomir. "Mademoiselle is a lady!"
"Yes, but a lady with such legs!" says the amorous Gritzka. "Does she wear underwear?"
"L'Hiver Sous la Table" is consistently funny, just racy enough, and has a little political edge for those familiar with the contentious French immigrant issue. It's splendidly acted, especially by the two leads, Marco Aponte (who's actually Venezuelan) and Debora Kahn (who's U.S.-trained and is making her French-language debut). There are lead-ins in English before each scene and there's an English synopsis in the program, but prepare to be challenged if your French has slipped even a little since school. For those who are fluent or at least halfway competent, "L'Hiver" will be a real pleasure.
|AUGUST 23, 2001|
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