Told By An Idiot, I’m a Fool to Want You

Review in Issue 16-1 | Spring 2004

‘I love people who know how to laugh – even if they laugh at me’ is a quote accredited to French surrealist poet and jazz musician Boris Vian – but it could serve as a motto for Told By An Idiot. I’m a Fool to Want You (directed by Paul Hunter) tells the story of Vian, who’s such a personification of Left-Bank Paris (jazz, poetry, passion, sex, death, cool haircuts) that I wondered at first whether they’d made him up… The story of Vian’s life is framed by the occasion of his death – in a cinema whilst viewing the poor adaptation of his novel I Spit on Your Graves. The show has a beginning, middle and end – but not necessarily in that order. It’s described as a ‘fractured narrative’, a term familiar to students of the novel – and indeed the show has a novelistic quality, with its flashbacks, timeshifts and explorations of the vagaries of memory. Perhaps an odd thing to say about such a highly physical and visual show, but this notion of the power of the novel is at the heart of the show. Ironically and interestingly I’m a Fool to Want You succeeds where much theatre and cinema fails in its ability to capture the inner life of dreams, hopes and fantasies.

There are superb performances from Hayley Carmichael as the women in Vian’s life, Stephen Harper as the man himself, and Zoe Rahman whose partly improvised piano score interacts with the physical performance. With a lovely cameo part for trumpet player Mark Crown, a just-right set design from Naomi Wilkinson (chairs and shoes stuck on suspended floors as walls on which Vian chalks the bare facts of his biography) and a gorgeous jazz soundtrack. What a pleasure this show is!

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-1
p. 26