Compagnie Philippe Genty, La Fin des Terres

Review in Issue 19-2 | Summer 2007

A large insect with a human head and fluttering wings hunches over a prostrate female in a white dress. With its front two legs it rolls her backwards and forwards and she eventually becomes encased in a polythene cocoon. The insect's legs are controlled by fibreglass rods, the body is on a counterweighted rod, and the wings, made from maribou feathers, are battery-operated and shimmer with frenzied movement. This puppet has four operators and when you watch the scene you are double-taking continuously between the narrative they are creating and what they need to do to create it. It's a marvellous scene to watch. La Fin des Terres has many such marvellous scenes, Philippe Genty (who designs/directs the shows in collaboration with choreographer Mary Underwood) is a master of stagecraft: the stage has several trapdoors through which performers can disappear or appear; black screens travel restlessly across the back and front of the stage like windscreen wipers, depositing or removing performers from the stage picture; a puppet with a photograph for a head turns into a live performer and again the switch is astounding – when did that happen? The manipulation of the larger-than-life puppets is of a very high quality indeed. However, there is a very big 'but'. The company are creating a dream world so the lack of narrative logic should not be a problem, but they have so many ideas, and stretch out in so many different directions, that the show becomes a series of unconnected scenes, the sole justification for which seems to be a nice object or effect. Rather than creating a dream world this creates a kind of circus where the audience waits for the next beautifully executed effect. For all the skill involved, I left the show feeling less than satisfied.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-2
p. 26