Original novel by Paul Féval, published in 1858
Adaptation by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
As night falls over the Château de Caylus, Blanche de Caylus waits for Philippe de Nevers, whom she has married in secret, so that she can hand over to him the infant, Aurore, born of their union. At the same moment, an ambush is being laid. Envious of Nevers’ vast fortune and jealous of Blanche’s love for him, Philippe de Gonzague has commissioned a group of men to kill his cousin and seize the child. Justice-loving Henri de Lagardère fights alongside the Duc de Nevers. But, from his hiding place in the shadows, Gonzague strikes Nevers a cowardly but fatal blow in the back. Lagardère then swears on his honour to protect Aurore and avenge her father by hunting down the assassin. Twenty years go by, and a strange, misshapen hunchback bursts into the Gonzague household…
e Soir – “The Hunchback brought back to life”
... An adaptation of Paul Féval’s novel at Villers-la-Ville by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. The setting is, of course, magical....
The plot of The Hunchback may be familiar, but we loved the show for its energy and verve. Passepoil (Michel Poncelet) and Cocardasse (Gérald Wauthia) provide a wonderful witty double-act. Aurore de Nevers, played by Stéphanie Van Vyve, is all freshness and light, while the cloak-and-dagger stage-fights are splendidly choreographed and ardently performed by Philippe Résimont as Lagardère. Just as stunning is Christian Sténuit’s lighting, which creates a flamboyant, impressive atmosphere in the second half of the show.
La Libre - “The Hunchback”
...Schmitt’s new adaptation offers a delightful second reading that is admirably served by Pascal Racan’s production. Thus, a brief scene has the Hunchback and Lagardère together on stage... The comic element introduced by Cocardasse and Passepoil provides a useful counterpoint to the stage-fights and powerful emotions, in this tale of kidnap, embezzlement, revenge and murder. Jacques Capelle’s orchestration of the many stage-fights is masterful.
This is a heart-warming literal reading of the fable, served up and consumed in good faith, just for the fun of it.
La Dernière Heure – “The Curse of the Hunchback”
(...) The story (overflowing with intrigue, plots, humour, high sentiment and frank naivety) of the reciprocal hunt for each other by the Chevalier de Lagardère and the Prince de Gonzague, the pretext for which is the defence of pretty Aurore de Nevers’ interest and happiness, is so compelling that it’s tempting to class this as the best show ever staged in the ruins of Villers – and there’s been no shortage of excellent ones in the past. This is theatre at its very best, with a superb text, revisited by the now Belgian citizen Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, and performed by hugely talented actors. (...)
Vers l'Avenir – “The Hunchback in Villers: action! »
(...) Stage-fights, love, bravura: the full panoply of the genre is wheeled out, here, complete with a good dose of humour provided by Passepoil (Michel Poncelet) and Cocardasse (Gérald Wauthia) who raise a laugh at every appearance. (...) Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s adaptation is quick, edgy and out to impress. And it works. A dozen actors take part in the stage-fight at the Duc de Nevers’ death, taking up the entire 30 metre stage in the process: everywhere you look, blades, dagger blows and kicks fly, in an orgy of sound and lighting. . . Like a good action movie, The Hunchback transports us to another universe: one where love triumphs over Evil and where, after countless ups and downs love will have its day without concealment. Among the ruins, which emphasize the play’s courtly aspect, this version of The Hunchback cannot fail to entertain.