An exclusive performance of La Mélancolie Des Dragons premiered at HOME last night, giving the audience a multimedia production of music and visual art. Directed by the artistic director of Nanterre-Amandiers Theatre in Paris, Phillippe Quesene, the production seemed to exhibit his stage design background, entrancing the audience with the amusement park design and the intimacy of the cast.
Any show that is able to hold an audience for the first 20 minutes through visuals and background music alone is a marvel, and this opening reveals an intricately choreographed cast. They work together seamlessly, never really leaving the stage but blending into the set as required.
It’s a production that seems to challenge many of our stereotypes, questioning the world around the characters as time no longer matters. It is Isabelle who fixes the car, or at least requests the new part. It is also Isabelle who is the first to break the silence of the production. She appears to have a quality to her the boys surrounding her are immune to, a gift to break the quiet stage and subsequently bring the show the life.
Yet the character of Isabelle brought many questions to the front of my mind. I couldn’t work out her relationship within the group, she certainly appears maternal in her care and interest in what the boys say. Especially with the eager quality each character has to please and present a new aspect of the amusement park to her. Likewise, Isabelle is the only character to have a name; at least a name so many times repeated it’s impossible for the audience not to identify her.
As the only female, Isabelle holds the stage and appears the pivotal character to the production. I felt she linked the audience to the show itself, being shown the various elements of the amusement park, so that we too, could view everything for the first time.
The amusement park holds many interesting qualities; it’s repetitive and simple, over explained and exaggerated—yet surprisingly funny at times. It holds a darker humour to itself, a realisation of the over simplified elements. The unique quality the amusement park brings has to be the physical theatre—each element takes over the stage, spilling into the audience, whether this be smoke or bubbles, or the overriding sense of pleasing and showing the audience what it has to offer.
But, for me at least, this seemed quite repetitive to the extent where I almost wished Isabelle would say “no” at least once. Each attraction had multiple options, whether this be the font, shape, size and colour of the projectors text or the library holding picture books, children books, fiction books and 3D books. Everything was explained in such detail, I was able to predict the next line.
Des Dragons may not have been at all what I expected, but it includes some clever dark humour, which the audience chuckled to throughout the show. The use of physical theatre and set design was vital and an impressive addition to the production, allowing much movement and interpretation.
La Mélancolie Des Dragons ran at HOME until Saturday 3rd October.
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