Anonymous Society, Based On The Music Of Jacques Brel

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

It is difficult to know how to describe this show. All the usual reference points seem redundant. Based on the music of Jacques Brel, the show is as strange and haunting as the Belgian chansonnier’s stark poetic songs themselves.

This is not the first time that Brel’s music has been brought to the stage. The Broadway Revue, Jacques Brel is Alive And Well And Living In Paris, ran for some three years in the late sixties. The songs were then translated into English by Mort Shuman who, along with Rod McKuen, did much to bring Brel to the attention of non-French-speaking audiences. Still, one of the delights of Anonymous Society is the new translations of Brel’s work by show director Andrew Wale. Even devastatingly familiar songs such as ‘Ne me Quitte Pas’ (translated here as ‘You Can’t Leave Now’ but best known as ‘If You Go Away’, a Mckuen translation sung by everyone from Shirley Bassey to Frank Sinatra) sound fresh. In every way Anonymous Society rescue Brel’s music from ‘showbiz standard’ irrelevancy, re-igniting the flames of passion that have all too often been allowed to smoulder.

The show is masterfully choreographed. Six actors/singers, one dancer and two musicians interpret Brel’s music with movement and mise-en-scene that are entirely appropriate without ever being merely illustrative. Every movement, every nuance is, well, perfect. It is genuinely exciting to be in the presence of a company so in control of and so true to their material.

Best of all, Anonymous Society only scratch the surface of Brel’s oeuvre and all that saw this show will be fervently hoping that this talented company now turn their attention to the remainder of Brel’s work.

Artforms
Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-1
p. 27