University of Rochester

Stuffed with Lust, Lies, and Laughs

October 4, 2011

International Theatre Program Presents Feydeau's 'An Absolute Turkey'

Swapping partners, hotel rooms, and beds, the outrageous characters in Georges Feydeau's classic French farce An Absolute Turkey are caught in tangled webs of their own making. The University of Rochester's International Theatre Program opens its 22nd season on Oct. 13 with a contemporary revision of the 1896 original, Le Dindon, adapted by acclaimed British theater director Sir Peter Hall and his wife, Nicki Frei.

"An Absolute Turkey is a classic for a reason. This updated script gives our cast amazing opportunities to show off their comedic skills," said Nigel Maister, artistic director of Rochester's International Theatre Program and director and set designer of this production. The play explores a world of mistaken identities and brings together well-meaning, but utterly fallible characters in unlikely situations and combinations."

Maister has set the action in the 1970s, and has rid the stage of doors, a typical characteristic of the farce genre. Instead of relying on the set to hide characters and structure the hijinks, the lack of doors will "strip away traditional elements to expose both the mechanics of the genre and the madcap hilarity," said Maister.

The plot follows Monsieur Pontagnac, a married man, as he ineptly attempts to seduce the wife of a good friend, only to find that she is busy plotting revenge for her husband's infidelity. The characters arrange trysts, attempt to expose each other's deceits, and are ultimately forced to come clean about their lies and attachments.

Hall and Frei's adaptation of Feydeau's original first opened at London's Globe Theatre in 1994. Hall is a seminal figure in the British theater, having been a founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and serving as the director of England's National Theatre for 15 years. Nicki Frei, is a screenwriter.

Obie Award-winner Kimberly Glennon designed the costumes for the production. Aaron Black, an associate artist for URITP and an Audelco and Lucille Lortel Award-winner, designed the lighting. Sound design and original music are by Obadiah Eaves, who has designed more than 25 plays for the University, in addition to creating original music and sound for numerous productions on and off Broadway, including for artists Woody Allen and Ethan Coen. Visiting South African guest artist Liz Mills serves as the production's voice and acting coach.

Considered the master of French farce, Feydeau (1862-1921) wrote during the height of 19th-century Parisian culture. He began writing at age 20, and soon gained attention both in France and internationally. More commonly translated as Sauce for the Goose, Feydeau's An Absolute Turkey is one of his most famous works. Although Feydeau was originally dismissed by critics, his use of wit and complex plots has influenced subsequent theater styles, including Dada, surrealist theatre, and Theatre of the Absurd.

An Absolute Turkey opens on Thursday, Oct.13, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 22, in Todd Theatre on the University of Rochester's River Campus. Tickets are $7 for Rochester students; $10 for University alumni, faculty, and staff, and for seniors (55 and over); and $13 for the general public. Tickets may be purchased online at, or by calling (585) 275-4088. Tickets also may be purchased up to an hour before each performance at the box office.