The Manipulate Festival at the Traverse Theatre had been due to continue this evening with a performance of Gobo. Digital Glossary by Akhe Engineering Theatre. Unfortunately Akhe had to withdraw at short notice and were replaced by French company, Théâtre Vélo, performing Appel D’Air (literally translated as ‘in-draught’).
Théâtre Vélo was set up in 1981 by Charlot Lemoine and Tania Castaing, creating image-based performances containing no, or few, words. Such performances are constructed on the premise that actors are able to interpret objects just as they are able to interpret words. Objects are brought to life on the stage as the actor forms emotional and intimate relationships both with and between them.
Together with other companies that share this way of working, they have created a new performance vocabulary that they call ‘Object Theatre’ which is distinctly different to Puppet Theatre as it uses of ‘found’ objects, rather than employing objects that have been deliberately constructed for theatrical use.
This performance was set in a bedroom, that was suspended in mid-air, somewhere ‘between heaven and earth’. Around the bed were a multitude of objects, such as a radio, bird cages, lamps and boxes, all hanging from ropes. Behind the bed was a window through which could be glimpsed a city-scape. During the performance the blind covering the window was opened to reveal that the window had become a port-hole and so the bedroom could be viewed as the cabin of a boat, sailing towards an iceberg.
Like a child playing with his toys while sitting on his bed, the performer created stories and scenarios, taking his cue for the setting from the view through the window and using any object that was near at hand for the subject. He formed a romantic attachment to a battleship, produced rows and rows of penguins from under the sheet and revealed quite a fascination for aeroplanes.
With the view outside the window returning once again to the original city-scape, he placed a plank from his bed, across the gulf to his window. He then launched a rocket and watched it shoot up into the air. Next he threw an aeroplane, then the carnation from his buttonhole, followed by a singly white feather. Mesmerised by their flight or descent, he is drawn to the window himself, finally taking the decision to fall into the void.
This was an intriguing piece, that was performed with great sensitivity. However, I have to admit that it didn’t manage to hold my attention for the full hour.