Théâtre Sans Frontieres, Notre Dame de Paris

Review in Issue 6-2 | Summer 1994

Where Théâtre Sans Frontières’ adaptation of Hugo’s novel truly parts company with literary content is in its failure to encompass or express emotion. Not that it doesn’t try. It’s simply too tied up with the presentation of image, language and sound.

In working through a seemingly unrelenting catalogue of styles, the production is deprived of a cohesive structure and, more importantly, heart. This is best exemplified perhaps in the director’s use of Denise Clark’s choreographed movement. In itself, it’s quite beautiful, but it comes from nowhere, takes you nowhere, and leaves you nowhere.

And yet, this international group give some very fine performances, the music, combined with the singing voice of Katherine Zeserson (shades of Meredith Monk here) is really rather wonderful. Even the set’s sort of pleasing, if slightly predictable (wouldn’t you just know they’d have to bang those oil drums, percussive style). And to top it all, there’s a story to be told.

So, what more could you want? Well, there’s always theatre. And this is what Adrian Norman’s production may yet unearth… There’s an enormous amount of creative energy flowing through Notre Dame de Paris and, following opening night at the Kendal Mime Festival, he was sensitively aware that all the right channels were yet to be determined. It could well be that Théâtre Sans Frontières’ autumn tour brings us something very special indeed.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 1994

This article in the magazine

Issue 6-2
p. 19