Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Cottereau formerly of Cirque du Soleil has created a show for an audience of all ages. ‘Imagine- toi’ draws us into a universe populated with astonishing characters. He speaks the language of joy
An empty space, suddenly a clown is thrown onto the stage by some nameless and unimaginable master beast. He snarls and growls and the clown has to set to work, cleaning the space in the best possible tradition with a brush and so the show starts, in the highly ornate and stylised setting of a Spiegel tent with daylight streaming in and the city noise outside, plenty of distractions but we are swiftly and magically drawn into this simple characters’ wonderful world.
Using every ancient clowns’ trick in the book with a spectacular vocal technique and a little help from technology, Julian Cottereau takes the audience firmly but unobtrusively by the hand and leads us on an increasingly wonderful journey.
This is clowning at its best and at its most irresistible, no red nose, no make up, just an openness, a simplicity born of huge experience, a naiveté that immediately wins the audience’s heart and willingness to join in and an open face capable of expressing minutely different emotions, it’s all in the eyes. For lovers of clown performance this is a master class in the art of interactive clowning. He had the audience from the beginning with his endless invention and willingness to take a moment and push it to its furthest possibility before seamlessly moving onto the next logical step, clowns are always logical, but it is a child’s logic they follow and that is what takes this performance into the realms of fantasy.
He dances around the stage like a cartoon character, finding pleasure and curiosity in every moment. He shares with us the joy of performing, inviting us onto the stage, literally in some cases, to play with him with utter abandon for dignity or propriety. His control and use of sound is extraordinary, everything seems to come from his vocal chords in an unending procession of extraordinary verbal tics and instructions, creating a soundscape and amazing effects, from the incredibly complicated sound of a camera flash going off to the wailing protestations of a damsel in distress. In one particular section, he brings a member of the audience on stage, sets him up and then animates him with his own soundtrack, the effect is extraordinary and at times breathtaking. This is a bravura performance, exhilarating, life affirming and truly joyous.