An Absolute Turkey

Posted: March 23, 2012 in Theatre & Event Reviews and Interviews



Now here is a classic French farcical romp that will have you in stitches from beginning to end. Three couples’ lives unexpectedly collide. It is all smoke and mirrors with these guys as they flaunt their flimsy moralities. Their lies and trickery explode all around them in a series of events, which they initiated with glee, but are soon unable to control.

Playwright Georges Feydeau is one of the masters of the farce. An Absolute Turkey is one of his most enjoyable with its quick wit, hilarious plot and crackling dialogue.  The enthusiastic and talented cast from the UCT Drama Department breathes new life into Feydeau’s play which was written in 1896.


The play’s title was translated from the French, Le Dindon, which at the turn of the century, in France, meant turkey or fool.  This play has its fair share of womanisers, liars, and opportunists, but mostly fools. The biggest of them al is the skirt-chasing, cheating – instantly likeable cad – Monsieur Pontagnac.  This lanky fellow creeps about the streets stalking women, ladies declaring his undying and unstoppable love to them at the drop of a hat.  Trouble arrives when he follows his friend’s wife Lucienne and he is instantly smitten by the sharp-tongued beauty. 

However, the bourgeois and self-righteous Lucienne says she will never cheat on her husband. Until she suspects that her husband is having a sordid little tryst, upon which she declares, ‘I am a firm believer in revenge. I told my husband I would punish any infidelity by pretending to take a lover myself. But I wouldn’t actually pretend’. And so the farce takes off at full and hilarious speed with the opportunistic Pontagnac trying to catch Lucienne’s husband and lover in the act.  Of course Lucienne’s husband artfully dodges his wives investigations and questions. Pontagnac declares that his wife is on her deathbed until a dashing blond in glowing health appears at his side; his wife.  And so lust turns into misdirected revenge and regret as the characters weave themselves super tight into a web of deceit.

Feydeau has such fun with his extraordinarily immoral characters as he turns the inside out and exposes the hypocrisy of human behaviour. Throughout the play he often shows a lack of any moral judgment in his plot. He teases and tortures equally, the innocent and the gullible, along with the vindictive, selfish and ignorant.  Feydeau was a legend of his time and was often referred to as the father of the French farce.  He wrote his first play at age twenty and by the time he gave up the ghost he had completed 26 plays.

The entire cast must be commended for their earnest and enthusiastic approach to the play.  With utter dedication each one of them have clearly absorbed his or her  character and there is seldom a slip out of the respective accents and quirky traits.  It really is so enjoyable to watch such energetic performances bristling with talent and youthful exuberance.

My only complaint is that the play needs a bit of an edit. As it stands, it is quite long for your standard farce. I felt my attention slipping a bit towards the end of the first half.  All the characters had been beautifully set up in the beginning and the tension was spun like a tightrope which started to sag a bit towards the middle.  The second half was a little slow to get up but once it got going it crackled along beautifully and ended hilariously.

The fast action on stage is enhanced by Foley effects such as us slamming doors, ringing bells, creaking beds, and well-known rock guitar riffs being played live on stage by a mysterious woman in dark glasses.  Three actors at the back of the stage, hiding only behind safety helmets, took charge of the smashing sound effects.


TUFFED WITH LUST, LIES AND LAUGH Written by Georges Feydeau. Directed by Barry Christopher. With senior UCT drama students including Matthew Alves, Jessica McCarthy, Ella Gabriel, Lauren Laubscher and Oliver Booth. Little Theatre. First published in Cape Times

* Tickets are R40-R60. Bookings at or call The Little Theatre on 021 4807 129

  1. lizanne says:

    Hi Astrid, please could you send me your email address as I would like to invite you to attend a performance of Line .During the month of April, we will be running Israel Horovitz’s play, Line. This one-act play is the longest running play in New York and now will be gracing the Cape Town stage for the very first time.
    We would greatly appreciate your attendance, please can you email me on and I’ll be happy to furnish you with tickets to the performance.
    Thank you
    Kind regards


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