He moved amongst the Caesar’s and Napoleon’s of finance and power. He moved with diplomatic immunity, and with reputational immunity, the later conferred by a docile French press unworthy of the trade of journalism. He left a trail of sleaze. He almost became the next socialist President of France. He fell, in Manhattan, in the Presidential Suite of the Sofitel hotel, at the hands of a black chambermaid.
The Presidential Suite, now playing at the College of Art in Edinburgh, explores the legal tactics of the Dominique Strauss Kahn $1000 per hour defence team. DSK is not named in the play. The accused is instead a Monsieur Chatelaine; he is an international economist and President of the La societe socialiste. A sleazebag is a sleazebag by any other name. His lawyers set out to discredit the chambermaid, who . DSK refers to as “black chambermaid tart”.
It is all pre-trail stuff. Hiring private detectives and researchers to find dirt on the chambermaid, planting half-truths in the scandal sheets and talk shows, suggesting she is illegal, sexually promiscuous, a prostitute, making high value secret offers of compensation to drop the case.
A small cast of five actors. A devastating script. Powerful performances. This is what drama on the stage was invented for. It is exceptional. The sleaze of money and power seeps through the expensive French clothes of Monsieur Chatelaine and his equally sleazy very rich wife. His lawyer too is cut from the same cloth. But then lawyers usually are.
The message of the play might well be the triumph of justice. But this is not a factual telling of the story. It has a slightly fairy-tale ending which perhaps corrupts the message in that it suggests that Justice is measured by the depth of the litigant’s pockets. Nevertheless this is an important production. Let it play in London. Let it play in L.A. and New York. Above all, let it play in Paris!
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