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James Thierree - 'La Veillee des Abysses'

by Julia Skene-Wenzel

April 9, 2004 -- Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Remember the magic of an attic filled with old furniture and books, the smell of dust and the air of lives gone by? A world that offers endless possibilities for play and transformation? James Thierree invites us to join his. Following his success with "Junebug Symphony" in 2001, he presents "La Veillee des Abysses" -- a gathering of a special kind.

Opening in the middle of a storm, the stage reveals six people fighting against the wind and subsequent waves of a big white cloth -- until it swallows them and the scene calms. It allows air-borne Brazilian dancer and acrobat Thiago Martins to fly and rotate through the space like nothing you have seen before. Legendary Swedish dancer Niklas Ek gets into all sorts of mischief, including a giant trapeze-like swing, while opera singer Uma Ysamat battles with her piano. In the meantime, contortionist Raphaelle Boitel appears from a suitcase to give way to Belgium Gaelle Bisellach-Roig's juggling number, involving customary clubs -- with an unusual twist.

Surrounded by a table which turns into a cartwheel, a sofa that swallows people, a big castle gate to keep away creatures of the night and various other entrapments, the piece is a kaleidoscope of styles, scenes and talents, held together by Thierree's unique vision. Fusing theatre, dance and circus, he has the audience in stitches with his blend of slapstick routines paired with excellent body control and vivid facial expressions. At the same time, his collaborators execute highly challenging routines with total ease, enthusiasm and charisma. At its zenith the storm returns and the entire cast sails away to new adventures and distant lands.

"La Veillee des Abysses" is a poetic revelation that engages all senses and challenges our perception of performance art -- a spectacle not to be missed.

Edited by Lori Ibay

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