Au Revoir Parapluie by James Thierree. Contemporary circus in the Sydney Festival at Sydney Theatre, Walsh Bay. Tuesday to Sunday 8pm until January 27, 2008. Sydney Theatre 02 9250 1999, Festival Ticketek 1300 888 412 or www.sydneyfestival.org
Thierree has brought both more and less to this year’s Sydney Festival, in his third presentation following The Junebug Symphony (2003) and Bright Abyss (2006). Last Thursday, the energy and drive of all the performers – Thierree, Kaori Ito, Satchie Noro, Magnus Jakobsson and Maria Sendow – was perhaps greater, while the theme is simpler. The result was better entertainment than Junebug, but less seriousness of meaning than Bright Abyss.
Acrobatic rope work, gymnastic dance and clowning in mime, form the focus of attention in Au Revoir Parapluie, with a great deal more direct communication with the audience and much more humour than previously. This a major strength of the show which kept the audience thoroughly engaged for the full 90 minutes. It is a joyful celebration which had us enthusiastically clapping in time to a fast beat for three curtain calls.
Rather than the imagery, which is Thierree’s forte, being linked into a tight narrative, the whimsical umbrella (to which in Aussie parlance we might say “See ya!”) is a briefly spun symbol of enjoyment of life’s activities, among many which invoke industry and agriculture, family ups and downs, and the arrival seemingly out of nowhere of the unexpected. Disruptions ,even eruptions, become challenges as much as frustrations. If there is a theme, it’s something like Life goes on despite everything, and what happens is funny at least as often as not.
Although the images were of the past rather than the post-industrial world, and might be seen as a bit old-fashioned, I enjoyed a stage show in which only the sound track was electronic (and very effective), while the action, both of the performers and the mechanical apparatus of the set, was big and physically impressive. The show seemed much larger than a mere five performers could create, and the audience responded in kind.
Thierree, a grandson of Charlie Chaplin, has done his family tradition proud.
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