Prague Fringe 2012
Lucy Hopkins’ spectacularly honed one woman show about ego, art and internal conflict is the talk of the town in Prague. It is laugh out loud funny, fascinating to watch and ultimately a deeply relieving and enlightening experience.
I’m wary of art about art. Especially theatre and about theatre. I’m wary of one woman shows. I’m wary of small venues where if the performance is terrible you know you’re going to spend the whole time trying to watch politely while the actor watches you in the hope you laugh or smile. But Le Foulard is about more than art, more than theatre, and is more than a one woman show. Hopkins’ four characters are so distinct that it’s literally possible to forget you are watching one person. Hopkins capitalises well on this talent.
Le Foulard begins with the audience being told they are about to watch a work of genius. The artist in front of us has created a company wryly titled ArtSoul to further her own career. She relieves the non-artists in the room that there should be no pressure about the fact that they will never create anything in their lives- that’s what she’s here to do.
With precise eyebrow movements, a chasmic grin and perfectly controlled limbs Lucy Hopkins signifies very early in the piece that she knows exactly what she’s doing – even in those limbo-like moments where the audience don’t. The Artist starts by consciously impressing the audience with a series of characters until those characters begin to take the show over by adoring and confusing and battling one another. I wouldn’t say it’s a unique premise. I wouldn’t even say it’s a brilliant premise. Perhaps that’s part of what makes the quality of the show so impressive. Hopkins finds genuine depth, insight and humour just beside, around and underneath the ideas of success, failure and importance that have plagued artists for thousands of years.
At a point in the show I overheard a woman next to me say "Why is everyone laughing?" And apparently a man in the front row, spotted by a friend of mine, sat stone cold. People all around were rolling in spasms of laughter and gasps of insight, but some react to the work differently. Lucy deftly took control of the laughter and brought focus back to the performance. What takes Le Foulard to another level is that rather than just playing around in fun ideas and impressions it actually goes somewhere. The show builds itself to an odd but tense climax (which I won’t spoil). Unfortunately, the only negative thing I have to say, the show runs on just one song too long. A rendition of Imagine by John Lennon which finishes off the performance seems misaligned with the rest of the work- not quite achieving the same level of purpose or humour.
But still, I could have happily sat and stewed in my awe of the show were it not for the fact that Kavarna 3+1’s tiny back room theatre was boiling hot and losing oxygen. Le Foulard is the perfect medicine for a swollen ego. Truly brilliant.