Thursday, 10 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Thus Spoke… at CanadaHub @ Kings Hall in association with Summerhall

At the first ever incarnation of CanadaHub at the Fringe, a new venue giving the cream of Canada’s art world a platform, two of Montreal’s most celebrated and influential theatre artists have come together to present Thus Spoke… and it is a thrilling thing to behold. This is not your grandmother’s theatre; the audience are not left passive in the dark, nor ignored by the performers. There is no narrative, as such, and not everything can be intellectually understood or explained. But the atmosphere is enthralling, drawing you in to this charming and bizarre piece.

Directed by Frédérick Gravel and Étienne Lepage, with movement by Gravel and words by Lepage, it is a patchwork of philosophy, political rants, movement and song. With topics covered as diverse as the problems with assassinating Trump to the social taboo of female masturbation, as well as a speech reclaiming the label of being an arsehole, the company of four performers have a captivating dryness and manage to somehow not take themselves too seriously. This prevents the piece from becoming heavy or laboured; they know it is a piece of avant-garde theatre, and keep their tongue planted firmly in cheek about it. 

Gravel’s choreography is witty and angular, and pleasingly never quite becomes ‘dance’. It regularly subverts the feeling of the music – rock and roll of the likes of Hendrix – or comments on the text. Lepage’s text is amusing, sharp tongued, absurd and fiercely relevant. We are reminded it is a privilege to waste our time at the theatre, privileged to make an effort to make an effort, while watching their cool demeanour and hip driven movements accompanied by a growling electric guitar. The piece fiercely abolishes the fourth wall – in fact, it feels as though the fourth wall was never invented – giving a light to how strange a theatrical experience can sometimes be. 

The performers, Frédéric Lavallée, Marilyn Perreault, David Strasbourg and Anne Thériault, have a wonderful ability to communicate intimately with the audience, and the piece has a real sense of ease to it, adding to the piece’s enigmatic charm. It is quite possibly one of the coolest shows in Edinburgh.

Review by James Andrews 

Rating: ★★★★
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