Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Physical theatre and circus piece loosely based on a sculptor’s difficult childhood. Told in abstract scenes through acrobatics and puppetry with live cello music.
L’Enfant qui… an organic and earthy theatrical circus show by Belgian company T1J is wowing audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, returning after last year’s successful run! Live cello music sets the mood for this extraordinary visual storytelling, incorporating puppetry and a fascinating form of hand balance acrobatics.
Created around a story based on the early life of Jephan de Villiers, a Belgian sculptor, and how he dealt with childhood illness may sound an unusual plot for a show, but it is beautifully told expressionistically through energetic acrobatic movement, brilliant puppetry, live music and an intensely exciting yet poetic atmosphere.
The cast are multi-talented and highly skilled at what they do. Three acrobats – Caroline Le Roy, Adrià Cordoncillo and Michaël Pallandre perform cleverly devised scenes from the young boy’s life – always with an abstract theatricalized acrobatic focus, in different combinations. They often work hand to wrist lifting and balancing each other and sometimes incorporate props such as ropes, and objects made from metal, an iron bed frame, and wood blocks or miniature wooden mask like sculptures inspired by de Villiers.
There’s danger, too, when one of the performers does some axe swinging at the beginning – it’s close to the audience, and gets our attention. Not to worry because these performers are very strong and it is an interesting envoi or homage, to the sculptor, de Villiers.
The young boy is represented by a superb puppet, almost one metre tall and extremely sensitively manipulated by puppeteer Morgane Aimerie Robin. The puppet is dressed in an overcoat and bespectacled with a lifelike head. It has the most expressive face when Robin turns and tilts it towards the audience and shifts its body in subtle ways, so gentle and moving. Her feet are linked to the puppet’s so the boy walks in a human like way and interacts with the audience. This puppetry is no less than mesmerizing and completely transporting.
Musician Florence Sauveur is onstage the entire time playing beautiful soulful cello music, accompanying every part of this physical storytelling and movement piece. She is obviously an acrobat, and daring, too, because at one point she is lifted in the air and turned around while holding and playing the cello without missing a note! This year’s setting is rectangular – last year’s circular stage seemed larger, more effective, spatially and visually – with several stripped tree branches elegantly surrounding the edges of the space. The stage area is completely covered with a thick layer of peat moss, authentically signifying the forest setting of the story, which also provides the performers with soft landings.
L’Enfant qui… is a magical experience and very highly recommended.