Performers and Directors: Elise Vigneron, Hélène Barreau
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
The capital’s longest running theatre festival, the London International Mime Festival, continues with the small but perfectly packaged Anywhere by French company, Le Théâtre de L’Entrouvert; theatre of the half-open. Figuring Oedipus as an ice puppet, Anywhere is simultaneously exquisite and underwhelming.
Performed by Elise Vigneron and Hélèle Barreau, this is the tale of the last days of Oedipus. Imagined as an eerie marionette of ice, he also slowly falls to pieces in The Pit of The Barbican. Vigneron plays Antigone, and she accompanies Oedipus on his journey. She asks where he is going. ‘Somewhere,’ her father replies, ‘Anywhere.’
However, Vigneron hardly manipulates the puppet; instead, Barreau controls him off stage by means of a complicated pulley system. With no visible puppeteer, and with the strings disappearing in the darkness, he seems uncannily alive. At one point he’s wielded like a kite, brushing the spotlights like Icarus sailing too close to the sun.
The pair create many arresting and melancholy images, but others seem a little clunky. The show starts with Vigneron writing words on a block of ice using black ink, but the words disintegrate before we can decipher them. Fortunately, the words, the opening lines of the story, Oedipus On the Road,an adaptation by Henry Bauchau, are contained in the programme. Early on, too, there is some noisy walking on stone slates that create a circle on stage. These exercises only delay the entrance of the puppet, the star of the show.
When he does appear, Oedipus walks to the sound of Pascal Charrier’s urgent and jerky guitar, but the jazzy saxophone that heralds the departure of Oedipus is less effective. Lit by Cyril Monteil and Thibaut Boislève, the puppet’s body shines out of the darkness like a prophet. It’s a shame, at times, that we are not closer, in order to examine the face of Oedipus, with the pins that blinded him still attached to his head.
There is so much detail here that it’s easy to reimagine this show as an animated film. But as a theatrical experience that only lasts 45 minutes, Anywhere needs to be more substantial if it intends to melt hearts.
Runs until 26 January 2019 | Image: Vincent Beaume