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Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité

Liberte Egalite Fraternite Photograph
An uplifting physical version of one man's incredible life.

A true story. Based on interviews with Julien Gross, a 94 year old man with an unusual take on surviving the Holocaust.

The show reflects Julien's energy, passion and humour. Storytelling at its best, using movement, live music, witty dialogue and narration.

Nominated for a Fringe First

"Gloriously touching and heart-warmingly funny"
**** The Scotsman

Etcetera Theatre Camden Town, 16-21 October 2007
C Soco studios Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 3-27 August 2007
Network Theatre Waterloo, London, 7 July 2007

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Press for Liberté

Ham & High

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Jewish Chronicle

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The Scotsman:


GLORIOUSLY touching and heart-warmingly funny, this smart little play follows the remarkable real-life journey of Julien, a Jewish man from Ukraine, as he travels across Europe, fleeing the Nazi oppression.

It's a lot more cheerful than it sounds, and young Julien (Alastair James) is a terrific character, a would-be intellectual who thrives on a mishmash of left-wing political ideas and finds prison a bit of a laugh. After going to Poland, he travels to France and becomes a window dresser - taunting the German occupiers with a new display themed around the French motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood). This rather unsurprisingly means he has to make tracks again, so he sets off on a second journey that involves walking across the Pyrenees, escaping being shot, pretending to be American and getting on a boat to England.

The rest of the cast (Kim Heron, Claire Mallet, Jeremy Randall and Rose Van Hooff) are wonderfully versatile, making up the variety of characters Julien meets along the way.

It was based on interviews with a Jewish man in his nineties, and the cast are joined by writer Katherine Pearce and director Leah Townley, forming the young theatre company Boy Who Cried. Both Pearce and Townley embrace the story beautifully, injecting it with a sophisticated theatrical style and strong sense of visual imagination. Playful and touching, the light-hearted nature of the execution contrasts well with the potentially heavy subject matter.

However, most importantly, it's all great fun, from the company's warm-ups in the corridor beforehand to the live music once inside. The only problem is the ending comes a bit suddenly. While real life can't be tailored too much to drama, Julien does feel like he has a remarkably easy time escaping his Nazi oppressors.

The play's story and its style also feel distinctly reminiscent of The End of Everything Ever, be it with a more upbeat ending. However, it's a type of theatre that works very well when the cast are talented enough to carry it off - and here they definitely are.

British Theatre Guide:

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
The Boy Who Cried Theatre Company
C soco

Following the real life adventures of a Ukrainian Jew on the run from anti-semitism and German militarism during the second world war; this heart-warming fragment of history is culled from the real life interviews of Julien Gross and his Wife Andrée. Taking the audience on a journey from his birth, through several countries and finally to safety in London, the five-strong company capably change roles and seem to be having a rare old time of performing the jocular piece. They also maintain the strong musical current throughout.

It's a refreshing change to see a story about the problems of Jewish Europeans during the second world war which isn't a sloping descent into doom and misery. Much of this is a result of the slightly madcap manner in which Julien has lived his life. It's difficult to become too depressed when the subject is so full of characters and joie de vivre, as he slips from one difficult situation to another, relying on little more than wit, charm and a good-hearted dollop of shameless opportunism. His carefree shrug and aside comments to the audience upon being given a plate of bacon serve as a good enough example of his adaptation to any given situation.

The company have again excelled themselves in a beautiful telling of a sweet and uplifting tale of love, survival and the human spirit.

Graeme Strachan

Three Weeks:

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité
The Boy Who Cried Theatre Company

If the Boy Who Cried Theatre Company cried wolf, I would come running to see what all the fuss was about. In 'Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité' this talented ensemble used movement, text and music to dramatise Julien Gross' escape from Europe during WWII. I liked the change of pace which moved from lively celebrations to tense confrontations, and I also enjoyed the balance between talking to the audience and using movement to enact a scene. The drama could possibly have been heightened with a deeper sense of danger, but the crossing of the Pyrenees was beautifully done, the older couple's relationship was amusing and Julien ate the juiciest orange I've ever not seen.

tw rating 3/5

Photos from Liberté:


Photos courtesy of Gary Daniell

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