Guillaume de Tonquédec, 55, thought he was too young for the role, not battered enough to play Matt Donovan, an actor who hasn’t been on stage for three years and prefers the company of a bottle of whiskey to that of books . The latter are however numerous on the walls of the decoration representing his faded loft, in the New York district of Times Square. Who do you have to thank for changing his mind?

Him maybe. Revealed to the general public by television, from the daily Fais pas ci, faire pas ça (2007-2017) to the series Germinal and A French affair, in 2021, Guillaume de Tonquédec is indeed a very prolific classical actor, with his credit, in addition to some twenty series, twenty-seven plays and thirty-seven films, including Le Prénom (2012), by Alexandre de La Patellière and Matthieu Delaporte, which won him the César 2013 for best supporting role. Not to mention short films, dubbing…

This professional experience allows him here, despite his frail build, to carry Clément Koch’s piece from start to finish. Of all the plans, with a text as long as the directory – the “directory scene” is very funny -, Matt Donovan is therefore a finished, grumpy actor, who just deigns to receive Boby (Marc Fayet), his brother and unconditional fan, and Tyler, a young stutterer who hardly earns his living by making the living stuffed animal on the sidewalk (Axel Auriant, seen in Skam).

Until Sara Bump, a bubbly young actress in urgent search of a teacher to prepare for an audition, comes along. The lines make people laugh and ring true, as Sara Bump is close to her interpreter, Camille Aguilar, 26, as feverish behind the scenes, for real, as on stage, for fake. The sequel can be guessed, down to the last detail of a machination that revives the script of the play in the form of a masterful lesson, a pretext to reveal the underside of the theater trades – “The actors? Navels on legs! sang Donovan (performed by de Tonquedec).

Public in half gauge

” I like ! Nicolas Auboyneau, deputy director of theater at France Télévisions, was thrilled enough when he read the play four years ago to “share the risk” with the theater. Making Times Square one of the rare plays created for France 2, as he explained to Le Monde during the recording, on April 29, 2021, at the Théâtre de la Michodière (Paris 2nd) – where the play was performed before moving, until May 14, at the Montparnasse Theater (Paris 14th).

It was more than a year ago, at the time of the first confinement, when the rooms were closed. A chance, assures the production, which was able to take advantage of an unprecedented availability of actors and double the number of cameras used. Another peculiarity, the public, in half gauge, was exclusively made up of professionals, journalists, technicians, actors and paid intermittent workers… the only ones then authorized to move.

These exceptional conditions have “created new relations between the theater and the population”, Nicolas Auboyneau is convinced of this. They also explain the absence of a standing ovation at the end of the performance, the spectators also not having the right to stand up at the time.