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Edinburgh International Festival 2022

Low Down

Swiss artist James Thierrée returns to the International Festival with an unmissable spectacle from his physical theatre company.

Following his sell-out 2016 show The Toad Knew, James Thierrée returns to the International Festival with ROOM, a spectacular new show that blends live music, dance, mime and curiosities into a hallucinatory spectacle that defiantly rejects categorisation.

In ROOM, Thierrée wants to renew his relationship with his audience. To begin a new chapter. To open the toolbox, dig deep, intensify, magnify, and find joy. To draw actors and audience closely together as only shared experiences can.

Thierrée is one of Europe’s most extraordinary and versatile artists, using his talents to create magical dream-like performances that captivate, charm and inspire. With an unbridled musical ensemble, ROOM takes us on a multi-layered, outrageous journey through his extraordinary world of wonder.


James Thierrée presents his new show ROOM at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh International Festival 2022. From Switzerland, Thierrée’s physical theatre company, La Compagnie du Hanneton, includes a cast of ten performers led by Thierrée himself in the one hour forty five minute spectacle. Created, directed and performed by Thierrée, he also composed the original music.

While his previous work had more of a circus focus this show still includes some circus skills but they are more theatrical and part of the fabric of this complex wonderment that is at once curious, thrilling and exciting.

Thierrée’s fascinating physicality changes in rhythm, direction and dynamics at the drop of a pin and he expands and contracts his character with his long limbs, very expressive face and eyes, and a zany yet distinguished looking shock of wavy hair. He does pratfalls, mimes and juggles a bit and plays several musical instruments. One of the highlights of his comedic physical acting is a not to be missed beautifully crafted piece with a music stand!

His compelling presence draws us in and we follow Thierrée as he takes us on a journey around his conceptual rooms filled with people who appear and reappear – each with their own mission.

Thierrée is fascinated by the walls of his room and he has a fantastic desk that has its own mind and clever mechanics so it can move around the stage – it does look like he has too much fun steering it!

The huge walls of the eponymous ROOM form various new shapes and dimensions as Thierrée, the architect of this project (in more ways than one), seeks to create the perfect room and demands those around him to help. The effect is industrious then transports us as Thierrée’s wonderfully eccentric character explores the large space he and his company inhabit and create with a myriad of props, never ending ideas and unexpected delices.

There’s drama, too, when Thierrée’s sometimes contrarian character emotes through a range of reactions from whimsy, frenetic to angst and everything in between.

The cast of ten characters slide in and out of sight. Musicians onstage play a big band number, a singer fills the space with her voice, a woman in a red sequinned dress crawls through a chimney. Sound Design by Lilian Herrouin, Loïc Lambert, Jean François Monnier; Costume Design by James Thierrée.

The lighting in this show is like another character, it’s stunning effects light different areas of the space and set adding to the atmosphere. Lighting Design by James Thierrée, Lucie Delorme, Samuel Bovet.

Like poetry, Thierrée freezes moments in time and telescopes down, magnifying the details in action and interaction onstage.

Thierrée’s ROOM is an avant-garde dream, an imaginative absurdist reverie!