Royal de Luxe, Petits Contes Chinois revus par les Nègres

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

In 1997 Royal de Luxe toured a show based on European experiences of African stories to villages and markets in Cameroon. They then toured it on the European Festival circuit before taking it to a small Chinese village where it was reworked filtering Chinese stories through African and European sensibilities.

The resulting show is presented in a large slightly raised area of sand/gravel with Chinese yurts at either end. There is a hut made of branches for the musicians to sit under. The audience sits on a custom-made bank which allows everyone a great view. The musicians (dressed in blue and red bellboy costumes) take their seats and play. An unearthly Chinese woman’s voice accompanied by Chinese fiddle, djembe, guitar and xylophone. The cultural mix starts here. A trapdoor in the sand opens and African chiefs and dignitaries climb out – strangers in a strange land…

The show intercuts its narrative with stories from legend and proverbs – adding some new ones of its own. It is performed with all the panache that characterises the company – a real feel for pace and energy, wonderful small puppets made of scrap material, and a series of images that take your breath away. The raised sand stage is a box of tricks in itself – at one point the Great Wall of China grew in front of your eyes. The technicians are visible as they set up objects and effects but they never detract from what’s going on. The result could be a bland mish-mash of cultural cliché but to its credit it retained a dark humour and a very particular vision to ensure this wasn’t the case.

Presenting Artists
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 28