A poor but ambitious young man arrives in Paris and settles down in the boarding house run by Madame Vauquer. He soon gets to know the guests: Victorine Taillefer, a young lady her rich ... See full summary »
The play opens with an description of a boarding house in Paris.in which, the young Rastignac, being for high society,is fined with Goriot,who bankrupts himself to support his two well-married daughters but be rejected by them eventually.
This was a reasonably good dramatization of Honore de Balzac's best known novel PERE GORIOT (sometimes called OLD GORIOT). The story is about a father (here Michael Goodliffe) who literally impoverishes himself for his two selfish daughters. The old man keeps selling his possessions whenever he hears that either of them need cash. The switch here (over Shakespeare's Goneril and Regan) is that both daughters are similarly using their money demands to try to keep the affections of their less-than-caring husbands, and do (weakly) try to maintain affection for their father. Normally they can't.
In the meantime, Balzac traces the Parisian career of young Eugene de Rastignac (David Dundas), who is living in the same rooming house with Goriot. Rastignac is taken under the wing of the slightly sinister Vautrin (Andrew Keir), who takes a liking to him, and uses him in a scheme to snare a fortune - bearing heiress. The parallel regarding the two comparable father-child relationships is typical of Balzac's sense of irony.
The acting (from what I recall) was pretty good, especially Keir as Vautrin (a character based on the founder of the modern Surete, Vidocq, and the notorious criminal Lacenaire). It was above-average for one of the lesser "Masterpiece Theatre" programs. Not as good as their previous Balzac production: COUSIN BETTE with Margaret Tyzack, but worth watching.
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