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Theatre / Martin Guerre

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Martin Guerre is a musical by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alan Boublil, who are likely better known for their work on Miss Saigon and the musical version of Les Misérables. Like those works, this one emphasizes operatic style and features little spoken dialogue.

The story is based loosely on the French peasant of the same name who was famous for being impersonated over the course of several years by Arnaud de Thil. It is famous for being closed down during its original run for a 50% rewrite of the show, completing a pretty successful run, then being rewritten almost completely for a UK revival (resulting in two separate offical recordings that could almost been considered two different musicals) then being rewritten AGAIN for a US tour...and Boulbil & Schonberg are STILL tinkering with it.

Tropes used in this work include:

  • Angry Mob Song: There was a 'knife dance' in the first version, cut in the rewrites. Also, the part the villagers sing in 'Justice Will Be Done'
  • Artistic Licence – History: In Real Life Arnaud du Tihl was executed by hanging, whereas in the play he is murdered by an angry mob after escaping from jail.
  • Becoming the Mask: Arnaud initially is reluctant to accept his role as 'Martin Guerre' but after a while he grows to love the village, his life and of course, his wife Bertrande. By the end of the play he seems to really think of himself as 'Martin Guerre.'
  • BSoD Song: Martin's part in "Why".
  • Cloudcuckoo Lander: Benoit. He seems to be mentally ill (he believes a scarecrow to be his fiance) but has occasional moments of extreme lucidity that seem to cast him more as a cuckoolander using Obfuscating Insanity.
  • Dark Reprise: "Live With Someone You Love" gets one when Arnaud dies. Also, "I'm Martin Guerre" gets one when Arnaud sings it in the courtroom when he pretends to be Martin. Not exactly dark, but still a bit on the creepy side.
    • In the rewritten version, Martin gets a dark reprise of "Without You As A Friend" during "Why", including the line "so it seems we have come to the end/I'll live my life/without you as a friend."
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Not surprising, since Martin Guerre himself used to be the Trope Namer.
  • The Fool: Benoit.
  • "I Am" Song: You will probably never get a more literal example than "I'm Martin Guerre".
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Although the judge decides Bertrande is still married to Martin and leaves Arnaud's fate in his hands, Martin chooses to let Arnaud live and attempts to lead Arnaud and Bertrande away from the village.
  • I Will Wait for You: Bertrande decides to wait for Martin to return rather than decide he's dead and remarry. It's not so much out of any emotional connection to him, but the alternative is marrying a man she hates.
  • Identical Stranger: Martin and Arnaud must be, or else how could Arnaud pass for Martin so well? Granted, seven years pass between Martin leaving Artigat and Arnaud returning, but they still must look a great deal like each other.
  • If I Can't Have You…: Guilliame attempts to kill Bertrande after losing her to not one but two Martin Guerres.
  • My God, What Have I Done??: the entire cast feels this way after Artigat is burned, Father Dominic and Arnaud are killed.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Guilliame. Otherwise he doesn't seem to be a truly evil person, just a bit of a religious fanatic, but his obsession with Bertrande leads him to be the play's main villain.
  • Not Quite Dead: Martin Guerre himself.
  • The Reveal: The real Martin Guerre returning to Artigat in the middle of the trial.
  • Villain Song: "I Will Make You Proud", a.k.a. "Justice Will Be Done".