The Mad Woman
Jean Giraudoux wrote this play in the mid 1940's and it was
not produced until after his death, yet, everyone agrees it could have been written today
and it would still be ahead of its time.
Giraudoux's political cynicism is amply
evident in this satirical and socially relevant story that expounds truths through the
mouths of characters who seemingly would be the least credible . . . a histrionic woman
and a rag picker.
The play opens with a group of prominent business men discussing how their fortunes can
be enhanced by clever manipulation of their stocks in the market, and when the president
is asked what product the company makes, he is at a loss for an answer. It's clear
that even in the 40's ENRON tactics were alive and well, although there was no name for it
The men eventually meet a prospector who convinces them that there is oil in the middle
of Paris, but since he can't get a permit to drill, he decides to blow up the building
where the commissioner works, and maybe the new commissioner will be more receptive to the
idea. Why does one flashback to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma
City and Tim McVeigh in this scene?
|The Madwoman enters, with a seeming cortege of poor,
malcontent, non-important people, who include a deaf mute, a doorman, three flower girls,
a street singer and the rag picker -- all of whom seem to fawn over her and treat her
royally. More of an eccentric than a madwoman, she is given to strange visions and
ideas, and in her conversations, admits that she is convinced that an awful old woman is
living behind the large mirror in her home.
|A young man is found attempting suicide and is brought to
the cafe near "her" area. Being one to become involved in all
things, she assists in his revival and discovers that the young man was a
co-conspirator with the prospector in bombing the government building, but his conscience
forced him to relent at the last minute. Through him she learns of the plan to
enrich the business men by extracting the oil and she conjures up her own plan to prevent
There are other women, equally mad, who are
friends of hers. One brings a non-existing pet on her visits, and the other sees
strangers appearing and joining the conversation. While these women don't add to her
plan, she does enlist the help of a third woman friend and sets up a trial in which the
aristocrats are charged for their crimes and the rag picker is selected to be their
defense. His presentation is brilliant - eloquent and definitive, and is more of a
help to the prosecution than the defense, not surprisingly.
|When the accused appear after the trial, they are all
masked, symbolically hiding their identities and pretending to be something other than
what they actually are. She has discovered a dungeon-like basement in her home, and
leads the accused down in a metaphoric descent to get their just rewards. The entire
play is filled with references to political and industrial abuses towards the masses, but
so well couched in humor and metaphors that one has to listen carefully to catch them all.
|Every character has symbolic meaning, from the deaf mute who
hears more and says more by signing, to the sewer man who knows all about the populace
from the garbage they discard.
The enormous cast does an excellent job but as
most plays go, the second act suffers from overextended speeches, especially from the
Madwoman, played so well by Joanne McGee. John Serembe does a terrific job as the
rag picker, but he too gets windy in the second act, and the fine line between acting and
preaching gets even finer as the third hour of the play approaches. Gary White did a
great job directing such a huge cast, and if he could find a way to condense the second
act, the production would be a lot better off. The scene with the three Madwomen at
the start of the second act could use some editing, as could a few scenes just before
In spite of all, this is fine presentation, not just for the excellent story by
Giraudoux, but for the great production values, costuming and sets that add to the
believability of the tale. Too bad there is no Madwoman now. It seems that
this would be a good time for a person with little to lose to come forward and speak a few
truths that would unmask the politicians and the so called business leaders of today.
The production will play through September 28. RESERVATIONS AND INFORMATION: (626) 398-6522.
Comments? Write to us at email@example.com
THE CAST: Doug Rynerson - Neil Reinhold, Jeff
Shevlowitz, Monet-Hurst-Mendoza, Tiffany Serembe, Alexander Rynerson, John Serembe,
Sabrina Bruce, Stephanie Meade, Michael Meade, Tom Vick, Will Lucas, Peter Fields, Mueen
J. Ahmad, Joanne McGee, Jim Hollander, Craig Wadlin, Katsy Chappell, Kay Bernard, Kelie
McIver, Melody Doyle.
This show initiates a special family package
price plan. Admission for a family is $40.00. Family here is defined as mom, dad, and any
number of theatre age-appropriate children in an immediate family. (Aunts, grandparents,
etc., will have to purchase their tickets separately.)
SPECIAL! Child care provided performance on Friday September 13 for children too
young to sit through a performance. Cost per child for this service is $5.00.
SPECIAL! Artist receptions follow performances on Fridays September 13 and 20.
The Madwoman Of Chaillot, a comedy.
Written by Jean Giradoux. Directed by Gary White. A production
of Arroyo Repertory Theatre in association with the Courtyard Arts Project.
The Courtyard Theatre, outdoors on the grounds of St. James United Methodist Church,
E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena. The nearest cross street is Pepper Drive. Abundant safe
Opens Saturday August 31, runs through Saturday September 28. Regular
Showtimes Friday and Saturday at 8, Sunday at 7. Special benefit performance for
The Canned Food Drive on Thursday September 5 at 8 p.m.
$18, except for opening and closing night performances, $22. Student,
Senior, and group discounts available upon request. Admission to Canned
Drive benefit on September 5 is by donation of two cans of food for each ticket.
AND INFORMATION: (626) 398-6522.