Quantum Production Encapsulates Sentimental Mood of 'Meaulnes'

Article excerpt

For many French people, Alain-Fournier's "Le Grand Meaulnes" is a much-loved classic French novel that evokes a romantic, idyllic era and a way of life that was destroyed by the outbreak of World War I.

That dreamlike recollection of a perhaps imperfectly remembered simpler and more noble era reveals itself in Quantum Theatre's professional world premiere production of Nigel Gearing's sensitive stage adaptation.

While it might never resonate with us as it does with the French, this thoroughly affecting stage translation evokes a sense of loss for a period, a place and emotions that we can never recapture or experience.

It's a tale that's epic in scope, yet set in an isolated village in the French countryside as the 20th century is just entering its teen years.

The main character, Augustin Meaulnes (pronounced "moan"), embarks on an accidental adventure during which he stumbles upon a magical house, a fantastic party and the girl who will become the love of his life.

When another's tragedy causes the party to break up, Meaulnes departs, losing both the girl and the location of the house.

The events of that fateful evening color not just his life, but those of friends and companions who become intertwined in lifelong scenarios of loss, betrayal, regret and longing.

Gearing's adaptation supplies lively action and immediacy to Alain-Fournier's predominantly narrative tale while retaining its atmosphere of romance and fantasy.

Aiding him in that is Di Trevis' direction, which keeps the cast of 17 in constant, seamless and meaningful motion as the tale shifts from countryside classroom to fanciful fete, a boat ride on the river and the bustle of a Parisian square.

British composer Dominic Muldowney, who is married to Trevis, enhances the sense of time and place with a soundscape of carefully composed, long and short musical snippets, arcs and covers. …