The performance of the comedy Dinner for Schmucks by the Bedros Atamian Theater Group of the Hamazkayin Sanahin Chapter in Montreal took place on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at Theatre Beaubois in Montreal. The famous play by Francis Veber was translated, arranged, and directed by Viken Tufenkjian.
Before reviewing the performance, I would like to highly praise the work done by the theater-loving members of the Armenian community in Montreal, especially the youth, who are gathered around Hamazkayin, as actors or assistants working behind the scenes, demonstrating their dedication to Armenian theater.
For more than two hours, the actors, some of whom are already well experienced, entertained the large audience with their lively and humorous performance.
Francis Veber, who is considered one of the most successful contemporary French playwrights, has adapted his play Dinner for Schmucks into a film. The well-known film Le Dîner de Cons (“Dinner for Schmucks”) won a César Award in 1999.
The comedy presents how Pierre Labresh and his businessmen friends, unsatisfied with their personal lives, organize a weekly dinner, where everyone brings the dumbest guy he could find as a guest to ridicule and be amused.
The group member who succeeds in bringing the dumbest guest is selected as the winner. One evening, when Pierre was getting ready to go to the dinner, the nice, yet naïve, guest he had chosen surprisingly twists the course of the evening. Eventually, certain truths, conspiracies, and betrayal stories are unfolded through a uniquely interesting and hilarious plot.
Levon Kaprielian (François Decard) is without doubt the chief performer of the play. He fully brings to life the character of François, the good-hearted, yet simple-minded, dumb guest. Kaprielian superbly presents each and every gesture, word, and expression. Perhaps performing the role of the dumb guest is perceived as an easy task, however an excellent performance such as this one requires discipline, comprehension, and, of course, talent. And Kaprielian succeeded in playing his part in a brilliant and talented manner.
Razmig Tatoolian too shined on the stage with his engaging performance in the role of Pierre Labresh. Throughout the performance, he had a dominant presence on the stage. With his confident performance, as well as clear pronunciation, Tatoolian was highly acclaimed by the audience.
The performances of the following supporting actors were also praiseworthy: Zepure Boyajian (as Christine Labresh), Mesrob Berejikian (as Dr. Arshambo), Joel Der Nigoghossian (as Marlene Cousino), Saro Der Bedrossian (as Juste Leblanc), and Gary Zakarian (as Louis Gouin).
Tufenkjian, who has contributed greatly to the advancement of the Bedros Atamian Theater Group as an actor and director since 1971, succeeded in maintaining a dynamic pace throughout the whole show, where action and intrigue follow one another, grabbing the audience’s non-stop attention.
It is especially interesting how Tufenkjian has moved the plot from Paris to Montreal to make it more graspable for the audience. He has also included Québécois names and Canadian facts, such as the hockey rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens (the Habs). There is no doubt that this performance is the result of months of dedicated work.
We are looking forward for the next performance.
Montreal, Quebec – November 2012