This en français version of Puss in Boots is a delight for young audiences at the Théâtre français de Toronto
Hello kitty! Theatre company Advienne que pourra put on a fantastic play Le Chat botté/Puss in Boots at the Théâtre français de Toronto. This run was made up of only two performances on December 6. Too bad they didn’t have more showtimes; both shows were packed with pint-sized spectators hungry for entertaining French-language storytelling.
Le Chat botté (what English speakers know as Puss in Boots) is about a special feline (Mathilde Addy-Laird) who wears boots and talks. This clever cat concocts plans to help his master Charlot (spritely Guillaume Regaudie) go from being a poor miller’s boy to becoming a nobleman Marquis de Carabas — all in a matter of hours, according to Frédéric Bélanger’s interpretation of this Charles Perrault classic. Charlot even falls in love with a lovely princess (endearing Marie-Eve Laverdure) and wows the king (Yannick Chapdelaine, who does a great old-man voice).
My little French friend had a great time, pulled in by the exaggerated facial expressions of the actors and the references to bodily fluids (there’s an unpleasant sneezing scene). The young spectators clearly enjoyed the slimy, gross jokes, among so many other kid-friendly elements.
“I liked the cat and also the snake that came out of the tree,” said my friend after the show. Delightful puppets brought these two characters to life. Addy-Laird’s puppeteering of Puss in Boots was deft, swift and smooth.
I was most moved by the witch (Veronique Chaumont) as her booming voice shook the theatre seats. The kids seemed to especially enjoy her temper tantrum as well as her fate that involved transforming into a mouse and getting eaten by the Chat botté.
The snake that wriggled out of the backdrop was also an amusing sight. It was one of many cool parts of the inventive set. The set design by Angela Rassenti consisted of four walls on wheels, with décor on each side. This gave us eight different views that were quickly wheeled around as we travelled from the forest to the princess’s castle, to the witch’s dwelling and back again. Rassenti gets points for creating something portable, yet evocative.
The only small disappointment was that the actors were lip-synching to recorded music instead of singing live. There was no live orchestra either. This made the production a little less spectacular.
But all in all I am grateful that Toronto kids can marvel at these magical characters — in French — without going to Québec.
- Le Chat botté was performed in French at the Théâtre français de Toronto (26 Berkeley St.) on December 6 at 11 p.m. and 2 p.m.
- Unlike other most other performances at the Théâtre français de Toronto, Le Chat botté did not have surtitles in English.
Photo courtesy of Théâtre français de Toronto