Fringe Review: D’Eon

Natural Perspectives tale of a cross-dressing courtier is neither one thing nor another

The premise of D’Eon is certainly an intriguing one: A famed French spy rumored to be neither man nor woman nor both; court intrigue; the fate of nations… What more could you ask for from this true story of the Chevalier d’Eon de Beaumont?

The initial structure of this play showed tremendous promise too. An actor and an actress were chosen to play, or rather reveal the many sides of this famed cross-dressing courtier, so that at any given moment, either a man or a woman or both would be portraying the same character. At times this worked quite well but as the play progressed, the shift between the two lacked focus or clear intention and confused rather than conveyed the ironies and anguish of d’Eon’s many-layered life.

Perhaps most frustrating was being introduced to so many storylines and ideas and not being allowed to live within the story and the emotions of the main character. Too much of the play shifted too quickly and the emotional and poignant pulse of the story were lost.

This was particularly unfortunate because the actors, from the UK's Natural Perspectives group, are so clearly talented and engaged in their actions - they are truly proficient comedians with a fine sense of detail. As a result, there were many beautiful and very funny moments.

As the play begins, for instance, we see a man writing his memoirs. In a unique, playful touch, each time pen touches paper a cacophony of voices, played by four members of the ensemble, articulate the voices in the writer's head.

The play features many other innovative, entertaining and tongue-in-cheek moments.

Again, however, it seemed somehow like an ill fit, as if the story being told didn't quite match up to the manner of its telling, so that you find yourself wanting to see either more of the comedy or more of the depth of d’Eon’s story.

For more information on Fringe Festival Praha events see the official website.

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