President's personal life hits French stage

PARIS (AP) — A vow to keep his private life out of the public eye helped sweep Francois Hollande to power last year as France's president, attracting voters tired of his flashy predecessor's amorous exploits. Now, the words of the one-time dull Socialist are back to bite him in a new play.

"Mr. Normal, His Women and Me," a comedy of errors set in the presidential Elysee Palace, is inspired by a real-life Twitter scandal involving his glamorous live-in girlfriend, journalist Valerie Trierweiler, and the elegant and influential mother of Hollande's four children, politician Segolene Royal.

The affair last year shook up Hollande's carefully cultivated dull image and hurt his popularity. And it immediately caught the attention of director and writer Bernard Uzan.

"When I first saw the tweet... it was a vaudeville before my eyes," said Uzan, referring to a message sent by Trierweiler during last June's legislative elections expressing support for Royal's political opponent.

Days later, Royal lost her bid for a parliamentary seat. Widely criticized as a vindictive move, the tweet went viral and dominated French media for days.

When writing the play, Uzan says he interviewed real politicians and used genuine quotes and anecdotes.

Indeed, the characters are very thinly disguised. The play features a portly, bespectacled protagonist called Francois Gouda — named after a Dutch cheese — who's chased around the Elysee by an obsessive ex-partner, Marjolaine Loyal, and bossy First Lady Nathalie Valtriere, who likes designer dresses.

Though it is fictional, the play — which opened on Jan. 24 — points out some uncomfortable truths about the last nine months, which have seen Hollande's popularity plunge at the same speed as the country's economic fortunes.

"I, as president, won't expose my private life to the eyes of the French," says Gouda, evoking Hollande's pledge a month before his election victory in May to not mix up his public and private lives.

Hollande's words were calculated to distance himself from his conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. He was criticized for letting his private life get too public during his presidency, divorcing his second wife Cecilia and marrying his third, former supermodel and singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy while in office.

Two months after winning the election, it was Hollande in the hot seat, answering an uncomfortable question on Bastille Day about his own love triangle. His 27-year-old son, Thomas, was dragged into to the affair, dubbed "tweetgate," to defend his mother, Royal.

Mirroring the image political satirists paint of Hollande, the play shows the presidential character as incapable of controlling the two warring women who throw insults at each other.

To chuckles, an exasperated Gouda says, "I never asked to be here ... Why can't I just resign, like the pope?"

Actor Daniel Jean Colloredo plays the president as a weak, ridiculous leader — steered by the characters around him, including his aide who tries to teach him the confidence to say "I am a winner" to a mirror. He eventually manages with a weak "we-we-winner."

"He really doesn't have the strength of character to choose either woman," said Colleredo.

Hollande's ex-partner Royal was back in the news this week causing controversy, with an announcement of her appointment as vice president of the new government-funded Public Investment Bank.

Top business leader Laurence Parisot questioned Royal's experience for the job, while journalists have called it a political appointment from the Elysee to keep Royal happy — a charge she vehemently denies.

The play also tries to address the key question on everyone's lips: What is the irresistible appeal of Hollande, who has been nicknamed "flanby" after a bland custard dessert?

"We asked ourselves this, too. How can this (love triangle) have come about?" says Dominique Merot, the actress who plays Loyal. "He must have a lot of charm behind closed doors."

____

Follow Thomas Adamson at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Michelle Obama declares 'Black Girls Rock!'
    Michelle Obama declares 'Black Girls Rock!'

    NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Michelle Obama celebrated the beauty, power and tenacity of black woman while spreading her own message of education for girls at Black Girls Rock!, an annual event honoring trailblazing women of color from all walks of life. …

  • Jolie delivers empowerment message at Kids' Choice Awards
    Jolie delivers empowerment message at Kids' Choice Awards

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The traditional green slime flowed at the Kids' Choice Awards, but it was Angelina Jolie's message of empowerment for youngsters that stuck. …

  • Coco Rocha Gives Birth
    Coco Rocha Gives Birth

    Coco Rocha and James Conran's daughter is only a few hours old, but she's already a social media star! …

  • KCAs: No Slime For Angelina!
    KCAs: No Slime For Angelina!

    Angelina Jolie made her first post-surgery appearance Saturday at the Kids' Choice Awards. After winning the blimp for Favorite Villain, Access Hollywood 's Stephanie Bauer asked the "Maleficent" star if she was relieved that she avoided getting slimed. When accepting her award, Angelina gave a speech to inspire people to be proud of their uniqueness. …

  • 'TWD' Q&A: Christian Serratos
    'TWD' Q&A: Christian Serratos

    "The Walking Dead" Season 5 concludes this Sunday on AMC and actress Christian Serratos has some advice for those watching the finale: keep your eyes open! "It's just going to give you everything you want and more and you just gotta not blink," she told Access Hollywood of the 90-minute episode. Over the course of Season 5, we've gotten to know Christian's character, Rosita Espinosa, and her companions, Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt), as they've settled in …

  • Bieber & Mason Disick's Playdate
    Bieber & Mason Disick's Playdate

    Justin Bieber made a splash with Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick's son, Mason Disick! …

  • Nick Jonas: The Party Crasher! 
    Nick Jonas: The Party Crasher! 

    This is bound to make you jealous! …

  • Hugh Jackman 'Wolverine' News
    Hugh Jackman 'Wolverine' News

    Hugh Jackman is getting de-clawed. …

  • Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Celebrity News - Fri, Feb 20, 2015 1:47 AM PHT
    Beyonce's unretouched L'Oreal photos only latest in her long history of Photoshop controvers …

    Beyonce’s #Flawless image is embroiled in controversy once again. On Wednesday, a web site called The Beyonce World leaked 224 allegedly raw photos of the musician. The images showed Bey in full makeup for the 2013 L’Oreal ad campaign — but with the kinds of “imperfections” we all have — beauty marks, bumps, creases. In the wake of Cindy Crawford’s unretouched photos, the images have been praised by critics of a beauty industry that sets impossibly high standards, standards that Queen Bey …

  • Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    omg - Sat, Feb 14, 2015 12:14 AM PHT
    Taylor Swift reveals ‘Style’ video

    The 25-year-old released the video for her third cut from platinum selling album 1989. …

  • My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    Write Away - Wed, Jan 28, 2015 2:29 PM PHT
    My mother-in-law’s personal encounter with the pope

    For my mother-in-law Mrs. Elsa Yrastorza Yuzon, flying and soaring in the skies is part of her normal routine. But it reached new heights when Pope Francis boarded Shepherd One. …