Franco Fry or Pardon My French, 
A new play with music
by Susan Poulin & Gordon Carlisle
Directed by David Kaye
Primiered, March 21, 2003
at the McDonough Street Studio
Portsmouth, NH

A review by Rhea Côté Robbins

 Is it the writing or the writeróthe story or the teller who determines the path of time measured or described?  ëThe playís the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King,í except when she, Susan Poulin, leaves Shakespeare in the dust, and revives more than just the conscience, but the entire spirit of the Franco-American culture in her latest play, Franco Fry or Pardon My French.  Poulinís journey into the darker recesses of the mind and memory seeks her identity through the French language.  She takes her audience on a safari of the self and other.  Moving and exploring the many layers of the Franco-American cultureópersonal and at-largeóPoulin, accompanied by her husband, Gordon Carlisleís music, spoken French, and sound effects, visits her future, present and past selves.  If ever there was such a thing as a Franco-American musical, this is one fine play to be added to that repertoire.  The original selection of songs written for the play adds the elements of culture made anew through song that reminds you of a familiar tune, but has a melody all its own.  While singing, dancing, and soliloquizing her way through the past made present and the present made past via memory and emotion, Franco-American spaghetti, Prohibition, the Canada Road, Kennebec River, Jackman, Maine, and St. Georges de Beauce, Canada, Poulin challenges herself to connect to the mother tongue.  Poulinís journey spreads itself into the audience challenging them to examine and recognize their relationship to their own cultural future, present and past as well.  It is a shared journey with which many will identify and of one which others will come to realization.  Poulin, with humor and grace, with language as theme and metaphor for the journeyóinner, physical, emotional, spiritual, and actualógoing back to the mother tongue, motherland, and the ancestors, discovers rebirth for herself and for her audience.  This is a play not to be missed!

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