#SheReviews L’Appartement

August 12, 2019


As many readers know I’ve been a regular visitor to Paris since I was 21 and have stayed in many cool and quirky apartments. There was the crazy shower apartment; where the shower could only be turned on by my clever husband and looked like a Tardis with seats, lights, a range of spray options and music. (Oh, the stories it could probably tell). There was the massive, seemingly haunted apartment in the 16th, where we only used the front rooms as it was too scary to be alone at the back. There was the beautiful all white and stark apartment right near Trocadero, which was dotted with cool objets d’art. It boasted a bathtub so big my youngest could swim laps. It also had very uncomfortable chairs. 

When without the family, we loved staying in an oak ceilinged bolthole in Saint Germain but my husband’s shoulders just fit going up the stairs and he often bumps his head on the low beams. In an apartment in the Marais we were kept awake all night by a party across the way where they played classics like It’s Raining Men into the wee hours and yes, we could watch the party as though it were television through the open windows. My favourite was a cool converted factory near Rue Mouffetard with a glass ceiling and an indoor garden. White and minimalist, it actually boasted a comfy couch and books aplenty for warmth. So many memories were evoked as I watched Joanna Murray – Smith’s new play L’ Appartement, set in an uber cool Air BnB apartment in Paris.

Inspired by her own stay in Paris, Murray – Smith ( Switzerland, new movie Palm Beach) has written a razor sharp, whip smart and edgy comedy filled with crisp dialogue, unflinching honesty and a clever balance between global and domestic affairs, darkness and light, comedy and tragedy. I absolutely loved it! She has taken all the things we love and loathe about Paris and woven it seamlessly through an intimate portrayal of a marriage. There is wine, lots and lots of wine! (It made me think that she’d been spying on us on our last Parisian holiday). There are conversations: deep conversations, fun conversations and a lot of laugh out loud moments. There were so many different layers to this story and Murray – Smith peeled them back skilfully to reveal the real characters and emotions underneath.

The Story 

Rooster and Meg are finally getting their dream holiday to Paris. They are leaving their three year old twins at home with Grandma while they head to a swanky Paris apartment. There they will get a chance to look after themselves, kick back and re-connect. But when they pick up the keys from their departing hosts -an achingly cool, over achieving French couple- all it takes is 15 minutes for the trip to be derailed. And when they receive a mysterious package, it throws up the biggest ethical dilemma they’ve ever faced.

The Cast 

Husband and wife, Andrew and Liz Buchanan were an inspired choice for the leads. Andrew Buchanan as Rooster ( Macbeth, Rosehaven), is a laconic PE teacher who likes to keep the peace. Liz Buchanan, playing his wife Meg ( Twelfth Night, Terra Nova), is a part time furniture salesperson and highly strung mother hoping to add some magic to her life through this trip to the City of Lights. Their chemistry is electric and the fun they have on stage is playful and joyous before descending into drama with wine fuelled dark conversations tapping into their insecurities and fears. 

The super cool couple are played by the handsome Pacharo Mzembe ( Prize Fighter, The Family Law) as Serge. He’s a former soccer player turned doctor. His sense of comedic timing was impeccable. His wife is the ethereal Melanie Zanetti ( Jasper Jones, In Like Flynn). Those with youngsters will recognise Melanie from the popular Bluey. She played the part of Lea so well that we had to ask if she was actually French, her pronunciation and Parisian sense of style were so realistic. 

Joanna Murray – Smith’s play Switzerland was the first I ever reviewed for She Society and it is still one of my very favourites, but it may have to make way for the brilliant L’ Appartement. I will definitely be heading back again to see this comedy that asks if good intentions are the ultimate crime of the middle class. With such smart writing, characterisation, a chic setting and bags of humour this play would be perfect for a date night and did I mention, there’s wine! 

Sam Strong says it best , “ We leave you to enjoy a play that hilariously explores the problem with every holiday; wherever you go, you can get away from work, from the kids, from the daily grind -but you can’t get away from yourself.” 

The Opening Night crowd , which included Australian acting royalty Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward and patron of the arts , the always elegant Quentin Bryce, laughed, gasped and laughed some more at the twists and turns of this brilliant play, from one of Australia’s most accomplished storytellers. The delightful L’Appartement will be playing in the Cremorne Theatre , QPAC until 31st August. Go see it. It is (beret) good! 

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