Le Dîner de Cons

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Le Dîner de Cons (French pronunciation: ​[lə di'ne də kɔ̃]) is a French comedy play by Francis Veber.

Story[edit]

Pierre Brochant, a Parisian publisher, attends a weekly "idiots' dinner", where guests, who are prominent Parisian businessmen, must bring along an "idiot" whom the other guests can ridicule. At the end of the dinner, the evening's champion idiot is selected.

With the help of an "idiot scout", Brochant manages to find a "gem", François Pignon, a Finance Ministry employee whose passion is building replicas of landmarks with matchsticks. When Brochant starts to suffer from lower back pain, his wife, Christine, leaves him shortly before Pignon arrives at his apartment. Brochant initially wants Pignon to leave, but instead becomes reliant on him, because of his back problem, and his need to resolve his relationship problems. He solicits Pignon's assistance in making a series of telephone calls to locate his wife, but Pignon gaffes each time, including revealing the existence of Brochant's mistress, Marlene Sasseur, to his wife, Christine.

Brochant is also able to make amends with an old friend, Juste LeBlanc, from whom he stole Christine. Arriving at the apartment, LeBlanc switches between assisting Brochant, and laughing uncontrollably at his discomfiture. Brochant believes Christine has gone to Pascal Meneaux, a notorious philanderer. Brochant does not know how to locate Menaux, so Pignon tries to help by bringing in a friend, Lucien Cheval, a civil servant who has Menaux's details "on his files". Cheval arrives, but turns out to be a tax inspector, to the further distress of the wealthy Brochant, who has been evading tax, and is forced to quickly hide most of his valuables. In the act of calling the womaniser Meneaux, the tax auditor makes an unpleasant discovery about his own wife and leaves, threatening to audit Menaux and possibly Brochant as well.

Pignon eventually discovers the truth behind the dinner that Brochant wanted to take him to. His feeling are hurt, but, well-intentioned as ever, he tries to make up for all his mistakes by calling Brochant's wife, who had been involved in a car accident after leaving the apartment for the second time (the first time being when Pignon had sent her away thinking she was really Brochant's mistress). For once he makes no mistakes in this conversation, speaking emotionally and sincerely about his own marital break up (in response to which he took up his hobby), and making up almost perfect excuses on the spot.

However, after encouraging Christine to return home, Pignon makes a final gaffe: he picks up the telephone when she calls to talk to Brochant despite having previously told her he was in a phone booth, thus arousing her suspicions that he has simply been repeating lines fed to him by Brochant (as he indeed had been in previous conversations).

Title[edit]

The title, Le Dîner de Cons can be translated into English as "The Dinner of Fools" (which is one translation used for the title of the film version, the other being "The Dinner Game"). "Con" can be translated as "prat", not as is popularly believed to be the English equivalent for "Connasse": "Cunt". Perhaps an accurate translation would be "The Prats' Dinner".[1] An English-language stage adaptation uses the euphemism See You Next Tuesday as its title. An American film adaptation uses the title "Dinner for Schmucks".

Adaptations[edit]

  • An English version of the play debuted at the Gate Theatre in Dublin in 2002, starring Ardal O'Hanlon (as Pignon) and Risteárd Cooper, and transferred to London's Albery Theatre in 2003, starring Nigel Havers alongside O'Hanlon. Ronald Harwood adapted the play and shifted the action to a Tuesday so he could employ the euphemism See You Next Tuesday as its title. The director in both Dublin and London was Robin Lefevre.[2][3]
  • A French film version of the play, Le Dîner de Cons, known in English as The Dinner of Fools or The Dinner Game, was released in 1998.
  • A Hindi cinema remake, Bheja Fry, was released on April 13, 2007.
  • A Kannada movie with title Mr. Garagasa starring Komal and Anant Nag released in summer of 2008.
  • An American film remake starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd called Dinner for Schmucks was released on July 30, 2010.
  • A Chinese remake of the film, in the form of a stage show at the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre in 2010 starred Canadian freelance performer Dashan as Pierre Brochant.[4]
  • A Malayalam movie adaptation titled April Fool was released in 2010.
  • Divadlo Bez zábradlí, Prague. Directed by Jiří Menzel. Translated by Antonie Miklíková Görök. Starring: Václav Vydra (Pierre Brochant), Josef Carda (Francois Pignon), Petr Pospíchal, Rudolf Hrušínský, Veronika Freimanová, Jana Švandová, Zdeněk Žák, Jana Boušková
  • Východočeské divadlo (Eastern Bohemian Theatre), Pardubice. Directed by Hana Mikolášková like a guest. Music by Petr Hromádka. Starring: Alexandr Postler (Francois Pignon), Martin Mejzlík (Pierre Brochant), Kristina Jelínková (Christine), Jindra Janoušková (Marléne), Josef Vrána (Le Blanc), Jan Musil, Radek Žák.
  • A Greek version of the play debuted in Athens in 2016 at Kappa Theatre, starring Spyros Papadopoulos and Pigmalion Dadakaridis.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (2 July 1999). "Con trick". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  2. ^ "See You Next Tuesday". London Theatre Guide. 18 July 2003. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  3. ^ Spencer, Charles (6 October 2003). "Comedy of Cruelty: Charles Spencer reviews See You Next Tuesday at the Albery Theatre". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  4. ^ ""Le Dîner de Cons" (The Dinner Game)". Dashan Online. Archived from the original on August 23, 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)