One of the oldest genres in French theatrical culture is the mock-lecture (or, back in the less secular days before the Revolution, the mock-sermon). It’s basically a one-man show in which the object is not to educate or inform the audience, but to entertain them: the formal lecture structure is a vehicle for comedy or satire. One of the most recent examples of this is A Little Treatise about Sexy Education, by former psychiatrist Lydie Salvayre (born 1948).
The Little Treatise was originally just that, a small, illustrated sex manual published in 2008, giving limpid advice with a little side-order of mordant humor. There’s a strong accent on enjoyment, which is why it’s not about sex education but sexy education. Flagellation and biting get their own dedicated section, albeit a very perfunctory one, which includes the suggestion that anything leaving a mark should be left to (a) people with violent temperaments and (b) politicians.
In 2014, the Little Treatise was turned into a stage show, initially for a cast of three women who split the lecturing duties between them, and backed up the erotic advice with a series of demonstrations using dolls.
Then, in 2015, the theatrical version was produced in Switzerland at the Theatre Montreux Riviera, for a two-week run commencing on February 3.
But this time the casting requirements were slimmed down: just two actresses – and no dolls. The role of the lectrice was taken by a single perfomer, comedienne Florence Quartenoud:
The other cast member was a replacement for the dolls, and was developed into a character named Maria-Magdalena. She was played by Viola von Scarpatetti:
Here they are in costume for the show:
So Florence’s role is to give the talk, and Maria-Magdalena’s function will be to assist her:
Guess who has more lines to learn?
Viola seems pleased about that. Though I guess the role of Maria-Magdalena might entail a few embarrassments.
It might entail something else too. Can you guess what?
Naturellement – la fessée!
Applause, please, for Florence and Viola!