Clique Claque is a dastardly comedy set in Paris in the 1880's. Madame Clothile is the "Chef de Claque"; the overseer of a group of professional "clappers" who manipulate audience applause for cash. together with her detestible husband (Yannick) they seek to control the fortunes of every performing artist in the city.
Clique Claque premiered at the Next Stage Festival on the mainstage of Factory Theatre in January 2017. Featuring the amazing on-stage talents of Michelle Langille, Victor Pokinko, Thalia Kane, Robbie Clarke, and Ron Kennell. Directed by the wickedly fantastic Sue Miner. Script by Mark Brownell. Fabulous period costumes by Nina Okens.
Thalia Kane as "Clemantine"
NNNN - Jon Kaplan NOW Magazine
You may think you know what you enjoy at the theatre, but Clothilde (Michelle Langille) and Yannick (Robert Clarke) would disagree. We audience members are simply sheep, says the pair. They are the shepherds who, along with the paid claque they run, sway our reactions to performances, letting us know whether to cheer or boo.
That's the premise of Mark Brownell's Clique Claque, set in 1883 Paris. At the start of the show we get an insight into the tricks of Clothilde and Yannick's trade, as viewers become potential new claque employees; the two use their minion, Clementine (Thalia Kane), to demonstrate various techniques.
Brownell's rich script is full of hearty laughs, some intentionaly bleak moments and a few thoughtful comments about the nature of entertainment. Under Sue Miner's direction, the production - which includes a touch of period melodrama - is fast-moving and full of delightful episodes. It plays out on a nearly bare stage other than some chairs and a revolving gold, white and red structure , the actors clothed in Nina Oken's elegant costumes.
Mixed into the comedy and fun are a few visions of the future, unsettling visions suggesting that telling an audience its taste isn't simply a thing of the past.
Victor Pokinko as "Victor"
Lin Young - Mooney on Theatre
Clique Claque opens up with a direct appeal to the audience, and for a moment we're the ones auditioning for Clothilde's band of clappers. The show has occasional moments of breaking the fourth wall, and the whole space gets used, from planted "clappers" in the audience to characters roaming the front aisle.
There's a sly sense of humour that pervades the piece in this way: Clique Claque is a show not so much about theatre itself but about the audiences that flock to them. It looks beyond the stage and into the faces of the people watching and commenting, extending the illusions and trickery of the theatre itself into the real world. What results is a funny, sharp production about a fascinatingly devious array of characters, each one a performer to some degree.
Ron Kennell as "Dubosc"
Lynn Slotkin - The Slotkin Letter
An intriguing comedy about the paid "claques" in performing arts events, a group that opposes them and a gaze into the future of what might be.
Mark Brownell has written a comedy about that annoying group of paid "screamers" called a claque. These folks go to live performances of music, opera and theatre to see usually dreary shows, with worse performances to cheer on one fo the artists who has arranged for such adoration.
Clothilde and her accommodating husband Yannick organize and pay for the claque. But trouble is brewing in the person of Dubosc who has formed his own group, the Clique. These people don't cheer; they hiss, boo and hurl invective at the lousy stuff coming from the stage. Dubosc wants the arts to return to the days of producing quality and if it's not evident then he and his band of hissy-fitters will let all and sundry know, loudly.
It's interesting seeing Clothilde's brains working out how to get the best of Dubosc and how this business can develop over the years. Brownell has some wicked lines about actors and directors in particular the theatre and music in general.
As Clothilde, Michelle Langille is stylish, sophisticated and haughty presenting one formidable woman. As Dubosc Ron Kennell is smoothly seductive when picking up various companions for the night. And he gives sound argument for booing lousy theatre.
Life With More Cowbell
Pea Green Theatre brings its own brand of dark period comedy/melodrama with Mark Brownell's Clique Claque, directed by Sue Miner. Clique Claque takes us to 1880's Paris, where we meet Madame Clothilde, aka the Chef de Claque, and her husband Yannic, who run a group of professional clappers paid to manipulate audience response to theatrical performances. They can turn a bad play into a smash hit and mediocre actors into stars.
Incorporating some cheeky but gentle audience participation, Clique Claque is an entertaining and engaging show, featuring a stand-out cast. Langille is mesmerizing as Clothilde, the seductive mistress of manipulation. Good cop to husband Yannick's decidely bad cop, she may be the wife in the marriage, but one gets the distinct impression that it's she who wears the pants. Clarke is the villain you love to hate as devilishly devious, cynical and thuggish as Yannick; he represents the dark, seedy underbelly of the Claque's endeavours, while Clothilde brings the illusion of respectable professionalism.