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Le Fromage de Mon Oncle

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The work of Jacques Tati and Marcel Marceau is not as well known in the United States as it once was. Le Théâtre du Petit Chou-Chou (The Theatre of Little Cabbage) wants to spoof their style with its mime show "Le Fromage de Mon Oncle" ("The Cheese of My Uncle"). The show reunites clown performers Joel Jeske, Juliet Schaefer-Jeske, and Laura Dillman, formerly members of the troupe The Golden Age, with the addition of Justin Herfel.

Written and directed by Jeske, this spoof pretends to be an imported production with totally unnecessary French narration followed by immediate English translation by the Man in the Picture Frame. "Le Fromage de Mon Oncle" tells the story of Uncle, who makes a journey to get some cheese. On his way, he has various encounters (the loner, the tourists, the religious young girl, the rich woman, the prostitute). When he returns home, years have passed. His wife has aged. Uncle dies waiting to be served.

This fable has its charms. Unfortunately, while the seemingly sentimental vignettes all have cynical endings, the outcomes are predictable and the spoofing is exceedingly tame. The small, cramped theatre may not be the best venue for something so subtle, where nuance is all. Ironically, the comic "intermission," in which two of the performers solicit the audience in French for donations for the arts, received the biggest laughs.

The four are talented mimes: Herfel is the French narrator enclosed in the picture frame throughout, Jeske plays the uncle as a passive Marcel Marceau character with a wicked little grin, and both actresses play a multitude of roles.

Schaefer-Jeske is also responsible for the attractive costume designs, and the uncredited sound design includes songs of famous French music-hall artists.

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