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Natalie Steed

Ma vie en rose at the Young Vic

Ma vie en rose is an odd choice for the Young Vic's latest community show.

Adrian DeCosta (Ludovic)
Adrian DeCosta (Ludovic)

Based on the 1997 film of the same name by Alain Berliner the piece paints a picture of the "community" as a hostile and inhibiting force demanding conformity of its members.

Ludovic wants to be a girl and to marry his new best friend Jerome. His family, and the community in which they live, want him to cut his hair, pull his trousers up and join them in their straight-laced, straight-forward straight, straight world.

And that's about it.

Using movement and Gary Yershon's, often ponderous, score to tell the story there's little subtlety and its clear where our sympathies are supposed to lie. None of the characters are particularly likeable. Ludovic's family is pretty ghastly: the parents self-absorbed and his siblings of little consequence. Even Ludovic is somewhat lacking in charm. The characters are drawn with broad brushstrokes with only Ian Boner's Jerome displaying any complexity. The non-professional performers are a kind of chorus, acting out the simple gender stereotyping – boys fight, girls simper – that drive Ludovic to his mother's wardrobe.

This piece shares little with the film which was playful, beautiful and tender. This version feels chilly and irritatingly didactic at times but there are some wonderful theatrical moments: an intoxicating dance of dresses, a deft transformation to a backstage of a school play and a powerful final image.

The family's sudden and uncomplicated acceptance of Ludovic and his desires jars and the joyful dance of the now indulgent community feels odd but it is, at least, a chance for the infectious joy and exuberance of the community participants to surface.

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