Lanyard presents 'Lascaux'

Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012 in Culture

Lanyard presents 'Lascaux'

"Cry of the Manbird" by Neill Ewing-Wegmann

review by Gina Hamilton

BATH — The very much missed Lanyard Theatre Company is back. Lanyard, which for many years produced original, serious theater, took a hiatus when the principals needed a bit of a break from the rigors of running a full-time fundraising, as well as quality theater, operation. But with its staged reading of the play "Lascaux" on April 20, Lanyard has returned in force.

Written by Kevin O'Leary, "Lascaux" starts with the true story of four French teenagers who discovered the cave, decorated with prehistoric paintings, by accident in September 1940 while searching for Robot, their lost dog. The paintings changed the universe ... no more could Paleolithic humans be considered little more than apes. They were artistic, religious, and social creatures.

O'Leary's story revolves around two of the teens, Marcel Ravidat and Simon Coencas. Although the boys were real enough, their story, as portrayed by O'Leary, is fictional. In the play, Marcel Ravidat is France's minister of culture in 1983. Marcel has been summoned by a psychologist, Katherine Terraine-Gervaise, who has been treating Simon at an isolated chateau in 1983. She believes he can help Simon, who has suffered from disassociative personality disorder since the discovery, because unknown to the psychologist, Marcel abandoned the slightly simple-minded Simon in the cave, having tired of caring for him. Until the psychologist's call, Marcel does not even know his former friend is still alive.

Katherine has her own reasons for asking for Marcel's help: She needs money to keep the chateau going, and believes Marcel, as minister of culture, can help her with funding.  Marcel is busy, almost too busy to come, preparing a Lascaux exhibit that will give visitors a real sense of what it was like in the now-closed caves.

Marcel is terrified that Simon will get better and spill the beans, but Simon, who spends his whole days drawing animals and the "manbird" seen on the cave wall, is unaware of much of anything. Still, Marcel decides to make sure. 

As the story reaches its climax, Marcel has a sudden change of heart. He has spent his life hiding from the truth, and ignoring his responsibilities to those who rely on him. But when the moment of truth arrives, he learns the ultimate lesson the Little Prince learned from the fox: You are forever responsible for what you have tamed. Marcel, having tamed Simon, once again takes responsibility for him, choosing to end his own life instead of Simon's. 

The torch has passed from Marcel to Katherine, who accepts her responsibilty to Simon, too. 

So far, the play has not yet reached the full staged format. Written by O'Leary in 2009, it had a staged reading once before, in 2010, then was shelved. The plan is for a full stage version in the near future. 

Elizabeth Lardie directed the staged reading, with Joseph Barbarino as Marcel, J. Paul Guimont as Simon, and Abigail Killeen as Katherine.

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