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Exit the King - Melbourne French Theatre

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by Shoshanna Beale (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and editor living in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. Check out my website and blog at
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A night of culture and a treat for the imagination
exit the king

"Exit the King" (Le Roi se Meurt) the famous play by Eugène Ionesco, performed in the original French with English subtitles, is a delightfully intimate night of not-to-be-missed theatre. Performed in a pop up theatre at the La Maison de Maitre in Carlton, "Exit the King" makes for an elegant night replete with pre-show wine and cheese included in the ticket price.

The play follows King Berenger I, an ageing king of a decaying kingdom, as he learns of his imminent death at the end of the play. He is supported by his two wives, the older Marguerite who tries to convince Berenger to accept his fate and the younger, more favoured, Marie, who urges him to fight his fate. The cast also includes the doctor, maid and palace guard who offer support yet also illustrate just how out of touch the king is with reality and everyday life.

Ionesco's "Exit the King" forms part of the tradition of the Theatre of the Absurd, yet director Marco Romero Rodriguez's adaptation is energetic and immediately accessible. The play is at once humorous and touching, the acting lively and animated, the palace guard and the doctor in particular offering comic relief to the seriousness of the situation. The set features music and effects which gave the play the charm of French movies such as Amélie and The Science of Sleep.

The set is intimate, the venue fitting up to fifty people, so that the audience can clearly see the animated expressions on the actor's faces. For those relying on subtitles I recommend sitting a row or two back from the front as occasionally the action would partially obscure the lowest line, but otherwise the subtitles fitted as seamlessly with the action as with any foreign movie. Overall the play was thoroughly enjoyable and a treat for the imagination.

I was wondering if I would be the only non-French speaker but when I arrived everyone was friendly and welcoming and I found the whole experience to be overall enjoyable. Along with wine and cheese at the pre-show, raffle tickets are also available, prizes for which include $250 worth of French cosmetics or dinner for two at the French restaurant Hell of the North.

The play runs for 2 weeks from the 1st to the 12th of September and runs for approximately 75 minutes, the dates are as follows:

Evenings: 8pm - Tues 1st Sep to Sat 5th Sep and Tues 8th Sep to Sat 12th Sep inclusive

Matinees: 2:30pm - Fri 4 Sat 5 September and Fri 11 Sat 12 September

The play starts at 8pm, or 2.30pm for matinee shows with wine and cheese available beforehand. As with all plays make sure to arrive early.

Tickets are $37 for adults, $33 for concessions, $29 for MFT Members and $18 for full-time students, plus a small online booking fee of $3. Wine and French cheese before the show are included in the ticket price. Bookings are available via The Melbourne French Theatre website, or alternatively email or phone 03 9349 2250.

Pop-up theatre 203-205 Canning Street, Carlton. On street parking is available and the theatre is also a close walk from the 96 tram.

Cast List
Director: Marco Romero Rodriguez;
Producer: Michael Bula
Marc Buret - King Berenger I
Jo Rittey - Queen Marguerite, First Wife
Julie David - Queen Marie, Second Wife
Fabrice Chatain - The Doctor
Catherine Blanchy - Juliette
Thomas Villani - The Guard
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*Shoshanna Beale was invited as a guest
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Why? A night of culture and a treat for the imagination
When: 1st-12th September
Phone: 03 9349 2250
Where: La Maison de Maitre, 203-205 Canning St, Carlton
Cost: $18-$37
Your Comment
That certainly is a bit different Shanna. An interesting experience no doubt.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|6964) 1475 days ago
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