This is a master of comedy, from the noble “Boulevard”, which was turned off yesterday. Pierre Barillet was 95 years old. Author of some thirty pieces of vaudeville with his comrade of the pen, Jean-Pierre Grédy, he had the success as early as 1950, with The Gift of the Adele . Followed, for forty years, many other classics. That Forty carats , Crazy Amanda, cow Skin, or still Lily and Lily are always supported by actors and actresses of great talent.
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His name had returned to the front of the stage in 2010, with the resumption of his play Potiche the cinema of François Ozon with Catherine Deneuve and Fabrice Luchini. But it is Cactus Flower (1964), which will remain as the flagship piece of the tandem comic. Notably, it was played on Broadway with Lauren Bacall. Or on the big screen with Ingrid Bergman, in the role of Stephen.
Last interpreter as of the date of this assistant dentist secretly in love with her employer, who asks her to play his wife to seduce another, Catherine Frot. “There are ten, fifteen years, I had received the text of Cactus Flower . I was so touched and amused that I kept in the drawer of my night table, waiting for a proposal,” recalls the actress, irresistible under the direction of Michel Fau at the Théâtre Antoine in 2015. The actress remembers the presence valuable to the author. “More than 90 years old, he had all the time to see us, every Saturday, and regularly came to lunch with us. He had a brilliant spirit, great shape, curious. A mind extremely alive and energetic.”
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“It was a figure, also well-known for his plays than for his actresses: Jacqueline Maillan, Sophie Desmarets…”, she continued. “It should be said that he wrote beautiful roles for women. What was, at the time, quite rare in the theatre and to the cinema!” For the actress, honored with the Molière of the best actress for the role, “embody Stéphane in Cactus Flower , (an adventure which lasted two years), was the fulfillment of the game. As if Peter had written this role for me!” Before concluding: “Pierre Barillet, it is the tradition of the vaudeville quality. With a caustic irony, a lot of class, and without an ounce of vulgarity. Its disappearance signals the end of an era, a century that is no more. His texts were long taken to the theatre, that’s for sure.”
cowhide to the height of the Misanthrope
Michel Fau, who a year later directed cowhide with Chantal Ladesous, also comes in Figaro . “When I was little, I was going to see its parts”, he says. “At the time, Pierre Barillet was a phenomenon in the world. He knew a considerable influence, and has been since the fifties. As if it had crossed the time. When I wanted to resume Cactus Flower , I was told it was obsolete. It might also seem futile and lightweight. Then, on the contrary, it has become a classic text! The feelings, the human madness, the bourgeoisie’s hysterical that it depicts, have not changed. It’s like when you go back Molière or Chekhov. What are the roles wonderful, very fine.”
the One who presented this year’s Fric-Frac at the Theatre in Paris is paying tribute to “someone very cultivated, open and caustic”. He adds: “He knew and brought together different generations, to youth. While he had known Cocteau, another world!” About cowhide : “I had seen adolescent creation with Sophie Desmarets. It is a huge role, as the Misanthrope , devastating. My only regret is not having played myself on stage alongside Chantal Ladesous!
The comedian, who is the last to have played one of his pieces with Skin cow , has also paid tribute to the man of the theatre. “Pungent, curious of others, incisive, to the eye, steel blue always on the lookout for a new project,” she said to the AFP. “King of the Boulevard with your accomplice Gredy in the seventies, your pieces throw the society of the time, but also the human characters that remain eternal.”
“From Paris to Broadway, his plays reminded those who doubted that the theatre is an art,” said Franck Riester, the ministry of Culture, on Twitter. “Today, the boards are in mourning.” Gilles Jacob adds: “Dialogues, situations, conversations, characters: for 30 years, they have done a twist of laughter to the spectators of the theater said the boulevard. They had the replica easy. And, as Adele , the gift.”