I am cross posting Frank Morlock's review of a performance of Jules
Verne's Journey Through the Impossible, its first production in
America. Note on the play's publication below.
> On Sat, 5 Mar 2005, frank morlock wrote:
> > Lsst night, I attended a production of Jules Verne's Le Voyage a
> Travers L'Impossible which he wrote with the assistance of Adolphe
> d'Ennery in 1882. The performance was in French. It was staged by
> Histrio, a French Theatre at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. It
> was intended a a commemoration of the hundreth anniversary of his
> death later this month.
> > The original play was perhaps the most audacious act of stagecraft
> that I know of. It combined three Jules Verne novels -- Journey to
> the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and From the
> Earth to the Moon. It is mind boggling in scope. Adapting any one of
> these novels to the stage would test the skill of a highly capable
> playwright. Putting all three into one play and giving them unity of
> theme would, on it's face, would seem impossible. But it worked.
> > The story is simple enough. Young Georges
> Hatteras has lived in ignorance of the fact he is the son of a great
> explorer for fear the knowledge would cause him to repeat his father's
> adventures and die like his father (an insane polar explorer in
Verne's novel). Georges is going to marry Eva. But
> Eva is being stalked by the sinister Doctor Ox who, when he discovers
> Eva is Georges' fiance, reveals his paternity to him, and by means of
> an elxir is able to transport him to the bowels of the earth, the
> depths of the sea and ultimately to the planet Altor. Ox hopes that
> these adventures will result in Georges losing his reason thus freeing
> Eva to love himself. But he doesn't count on the angelic Doctor
> Volscius, the organist at the cathedral who is a good angel protecting
> Georges and Eva and who impersonates Doctor Lidenbrook, Captan Nemo,
> and Michael Ardan (heroes of the three Verne novels
> respectively). Eventually, Ox is defeated and Georges restored to
> sanity and Eva.
> > The play had to be considerably edited by it's director, Genevieve
> Brunet Smith, because the original is a massive work. The edited
> version was presented without scenery and only a few props. Several
> comic characters were eliminated, but this did not detract from its
> power, and in fact may have enhanced it, by focusing on the drama
> rather than the spectacle.
> > So, I was wondering how an amateur theatrical group was going to
> solve some of the obvious problems of staging so vast a work in a
> small theatre. The solution was to remove all but the essential
> characters, employ sound and musical effects in place of visual
> effects, and use four or five children in a variety of roles
> simulating crowds, Atlanteans, and Altoreans.
> > The acting was excellent, particularly by Stefan Aleksander as
> Doctor Ox. Olivier Moratin is versatile playing Volscius, Lidenbrook,
> Nemo, and Ardan. Anna Maman gives a capable performance as Eva. Richard
> John Seikaly as Georges gave a performance that reflected the feverish
> state of mind of this character. Indeed, all the actors are deserving
> of high praise.
> > But hat's must go off to the director / editor Genevieve Brunet
> Smith for not only devising a wonderful adaptation of the original
> play, but for getting the cast up to what was indeed a difficult work
> to perform and extracting fine performances from them all.
> > Frank J. Morlock
> > e-mail [log in to unmask]
A translation of the play into English for the first time was published by
the North American Jules Verne Society a couple of years ago.
Morlock is translating many of Verne's plays, and some of these are
Voyage a travers l'impossible was also adapted as a 1905 Georges Melies
Motion Picture/Broadcasting/Recorded Sound Division
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S.E. Washington, D.C. 20540-4692
Telephone: 202-707-9930; 202-707-2371 (fax)
Email: [log in to unmask]
Disclaimer--All opinions expressed are my own.