Physical TheatreReviewSouth West

Manipulate Festival: On The Road – Tobacco Factory Theatre, Bristol

Writers and Directors: Tiffany Soirat and Olivia Faye Lathuillier
Reviewer: Bethan Highgate-Betts

One of Edinburgh’s many festivals, Manipulate is based at the iconic Traverse Theatre and showcases the very best of international visual performance. 2017 sees Manipulate hit the road for the first time to promote its internationally acclaimed program around the United Kingdom. Its double-bill of highly visual solo pieces at the Tobacco Factory consisting of Cloth by Eve Klein &Sons and La Causeuse by Sens Equivoc.

tell-us-block_editedThe first performance of the night, and the shorter of the two is Cloth an exploration of one of the most intimate places, a woman’s bed. This 45-minute piece saw curator and performer Tiffany Soirat on an empty stage with only one prop: a white bed sheet. Pulling and pushing the sheet around her she creates vivid, often intense scenarios from the bedroom. The study of movement both beautiful and at times disturbing, with the white sheet taking on a life of its own, breathing and moving before our very eyes. Depicting the stark vulnerability as well as comfort that we experience in and from the places that we sleep. With tricks of the light, elements of dress up and childlike hand puppets Cloth takes us on a journey through one woman’s relationship with her bed and the things that happen there.

The second piece, curated and performed by Olivia Faye Lathuilliere sees the completely dialogue-free performance of La Causeuse. Telling the story of a toxic love affair, the darkly funny piece sees the solo performer upon another empty stage, but this time joined by a red armchair. Physical humour from the very start, La Caueuse has the audience laughing out loud the whole way through.

Unlike the sheet in Cloth, the armchair takes on the role of an ex-partner, its personification complete with ghost-like hands that joined Lathuilliere as she danced her way through the early stages of courting her lover. The performance has several false finishes, though each at the time feels like a natural end. Fortunately, La Causeuse continues to twist and turn. Each time adding more and more upon the work that is already there.

Both performers are incredibly strong in their delivery, using their bodies as well as each single prop to manipulate the audience’s perception of what is happening on stage. Both forceful and visually compelling pieces, the style and content of movement is engaging and actively exciting.

Reviewed on 3 February 2017 | Image: Contributed

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