It was Sunday, November 1 — three weeks ago yesterday and twelve days before the horrible events of Friday the 13th in Paris — that I arrived in the City of Light under sunny, warm skies. I had reserved a hotel room in the Latin Quarter and bought myself a ticket to go see a matinée on the Grands Boulevards late that afternoon. It was a play written by Isabelle Mergault and the star was the famous French singer and dancer Sylvie Vartan. The venue was a place called Le Théâtre des Variétés, not far from the old Chartier restaurant near the intersection of the boulevard Montrmartre and the rue Montmartre.
Rather than risk being a Sunday afternoon shut-in in Paris if the weather turned out to be lousy, which would be typical on November 1, I decided to buy a ticket to the show. It was called Ne Me Regardez Pas Comme Ça ! (Don't Look at Me Like That!) and was billed as a light-hearted comedy with Sylvie Vartan playing the role of a famous actress who has attained a certain âge and become a recluse. It wouldn't be much of a stretch for her — she left France years ago and has lived in L.A. and Las Vegas ever since. (I think she dreamed of a successful American career in show business.) If you remember her, you probably remember that she was once married to the iconic French rock and roll singer called Johnny Hallyday. Here's a link to an interview Vartan gave to France 2 television a couple of years ago.
The play was good-natured, light-hearted, and lively, as promised. (The word "cute" comes to mind.) Vartan held her own in a rare acting role. Mergault writes and acts with a lot of humor, and her dialogue is full of puns and word play. She makes me laugh — I've listened to her on French radio for a couple of decades — and it's as much the fact that I'm happy to be able even to understand her puns as the actual humor in them that makes me chuckle (and groan). I'd never seen Sylvie Vartan in a live performance before and it was fun to get an idea what she is like in person. She's now 71 years old.