Au Revoir Parapluie
Sadler's Wells Theatre, London
Tuesday 31 October 2007
After watching James Thiérrée’s "La Veillée des Abysses" at the Peacock Theatre in 2005, the news of this artist returning to London with a new show was something to look forward to.
In his previous piece, Thiérrée had shown an idiosyncratic way of using different mediums, of “clashing” or juxtaposing various expressive forms to produce a show that is rooted in the psyche and that develops like a dream, like an afterthought… It is difficult to capture in a review the magic of a show that flows so effortlessly from beginning to end, without it actually making much sense at any time. “La Veillée des Abysses” was one of those rare shows deeply entwined in the surrealist tradition, where images and scenes are perfectly framed in a world that defies preconceptions, definitions and boundaries.
“Au Revoir Parapluie” (Goodbye Umbrella) was a similar show in many of the elements, but so different in tone and mood that, at times, as a member of the audience, I felt puzzled by an instinctive reaction to laugh at a pun that, however, acted as the antidote of a very tragic subplot.
In his new piece, Thiérrée has moved into a more narrative style. Though there were no precise stories or plots, there was a thread of narrative in the search of a man for his “lost” companions (presumably partner and child).
The mood that prevailed the piece was dark and melancholic. The clashes of art forms that characterised his previous work were more unified in “Au Revoir” and contemporary dance dominated the show.
Though, I would say that I preferred the other show to this one, I would still rate this piece as a theatrical joy. From the moment the curtain goes up and the show starts the audience enters another world, Thiérrée’s world, in which nothing we know appears as we've known it. Where ropes are not just ropes, but the most beautiful piece of moving scenery, where shuttlecocks become rain drops, where limbs seem to be ready to desert humans at any given time, where the humanly impossible becomes real and plausible for us to see and believe.
There were moments in the show where the effortless transitions of “La Veillée” were not so easily achieved, and yet, for ninety minutes the mind was inundated with ideas, with images, with themes and, most importantly, with emotions.
I think I preferred “La Veillée” because it was brighter and smoother and crazier. Judging by other people’s comments, the rating of this previous show is higher. However, that should not prevent anybody from going to see this show. The problem with Thiérrée is that he produced a work of genius not so long ago… and it seems he has just produced a truly fantastic work!!