Marie Desplechin, La Vraie Fille du Volcan (2004)

I was inspired by Courtney from Everything in Between to go read some playwrights, a literary form I hardly ever try. Since the birth of Smithereens Junior I rarely if ever go to the theatre or the movies anymore (it goes better though). I must confess that while I can’t live without reading books (if I can’t access them I get really crabby), but I can live without theatre or movies, provided I know that I’ll go again in a few years.

Unfortunately, The Volcano’s True Daughter wasn’t probably the best choice I could make from the neighbourhood kids library. It’s a play written for young public, and honestly, it showed in a negative way, because I felt it was over-simplified. Some young adult novels or bestsellers like Harry Potter (just to name a few) get to enjoy a great success among adult readers, because the plot is not all black-and-white and predictable and that the reader, whatever his/her age, is treated seriously. My guess is that the playwright was meant for middle school kids to stage and play at school (yet schools in France rarely offer the possibility of acting classes): this would excuse a great deal, but still it wasn’t fun for me as an adult reader.

The story is set in an isolated, non-descript island community that lives in fear of the volcano nearby, because the chiefs really use the threat of an eruption or earthquake to justify their own dictatorship. Every year a young girl chosen for her beauty has to be sacrificed into the volcano to ensure the village’s peace (and the villagers’ obedience).

At the beginning of the play a young woman named Caramille is left stranded on the island’s beach after a shipwreck. Caramille is a savvy, modern girl with a cool head. When she arrives to the first house she sees a family preparing one of their daughters for the sacrifice and she decides to act to save the girl. She pretends to be the volcano’s daughter.

Do you have any doubt about the happy end of the story? Me neither. Caramille was fun enough to follow, as a character, but I prefer my theatre experiences with a bit more zing.

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