James Thiérrée, La Veillée des Abysses

Review in Issue 16-2 | Summer 2004

In La Veillée Des Abysses we are invited into a world of surreal scenes acted out with the relentless logic of dreams. The colours are rich but gloomy, the colours of castles and country houses – mahogany, deep blue, slate grey, amber. Time and space melt as we move from one scene to another. We are outside in a storm. We are indoors – where? In a lost domain where eternal childhood comes up sharply against adult sexuality. Archetypal characters people the dreamscape – brides and knights, fools and tricksters. The inanimate objects have magical qualities: an enormous wrought iron gate is climbed on, around and through – yet opens of its own accord when it wants to: people are swallowed by a sofa, a newspaper attaches itself to a man (Thiérrée in a wonderful homage to Grandpa Chaplin) who cannot remove it, no matter what.

This surreal circus seems far from the traditional – and yet... we note that each specific trick or skill is given its own turn in the spotlight: the classic circus model reworked. Contortionist Raphaelle Boitel emerges from a suitcase to create a glorious dance of displaced limbs; opera singer Uma Ysamat is an honourable addition to the roll-call of musical clowns with her battle with frock and piano, both out to get her; Brazilian acrobat Thiago Martins confounds expectations with a slow and sensuous capoeira danced to the lush jazz classic ‘Lilac Wine’.

La Veillée Des Abysses is a very rare beast in its perfect blend of form and content. It's circus, it's dance, it's theatre – it's poetry in motion.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-2
p. 25