Theater Review: Cher Tresor (Dear Treasure)

A play by Francis Veber; directed by Leslie Lawton; translated by Eli Bijaoui Bet Lessin, January 14.

 Florence Bloch and Sasson Gabai in a scene from ‘Cher Tresor.’ (photo credit: DANIEL KAMINISKI)
Florence Bloch and Sasson Gabai in a scene from ‘Cher Tresor.’
(photo credit: DANIEL KAMINISKI)

Cher Tresor takes place on Anna Ziv’s witty set, the very-ultramodern, newly-decorated Paris apartment of the absent multi-millionaire Mr. Jonville (Ilan Dar). The décor includes a picture consisting of size-graded spanners and a couch remodeled from a bathtub, complete with faucets, and so awfully on. It’s gloriously, unabashedly vulgar.

Its caretaker is Francois Pignon (Sasson Gabai) who’s your congenital and eternal loser, and he knows it. He bumbles unregarded through his days.
When taxman Toulouse (Pini Tavger) arrives to audit Jonville, Francois has a great idea. Why not put the word about he’s to be audited. Reluctantly, Toulouse agrees. Suddenly, with the seductive aroma of money in the air, Francois is happily Somebody and everybody grovels, until, one day... .
Sasson Gabai’s round-shouldered, shuffling Francois snivels, cajoles, entreats. You can almost see his thoughts darting hither and yon, banging against the bars of his self-imposed cage. And then he dares a snigger.
It’s furtive, but there and you almost wriggle with delight. Florence Bloch plays his ex-wife Marie, alternating opportunistically between servility and arrogance as well as the phases thereof. The two of them steal the show.
Not that the others lack. Tavger’s taxman is your perfect bully-because-he can bureaucrat. Shalom Shmuelov makes a suave and smarmy banker.
You could slip on decorator Christine’s money-hunger, it’s so blatant. Ilan Dar works his usual magic as Jonville.
Hadas Kalderon plays Olga, the pragmatic loser from upstairs, with sturdy charm. Actually they’re all charming, as is the play, thanks to Lawton’s meticulous direction. It has pace, rhythm and joy.
Cher Tresor is a playful, sophisticated romp through greed, fraud, lies, pretentiousness, hypocrisy et al, and we have a total ball watching it happen.