Imagine a troupe of earnest and childlike French theatre philosophers decide to form a heavy metal band, but instead of using instruments they are let loose in a warehouse full of stagecraft technology, and instead of rock concerts they create installation-like amusement parks that look like whimsical winter wonderlands.
At first Quesne’s piece plods along at an almost unbearably pedestrian pace, as we see a group of metal heads in a beat-up Volkswagen Rabbit drinking cheap beer and goofing off while listening to excerpts of dated music. The guys pictured here look like half the dudes I went to high school with, and its hard to see how they fit into the grand vision of a French theater artist. The pedestrian pace continues, but it becomes increasingly charming over the next hour, as our expectations are broken by the sincerity and sweetness of the performers, and the truly impressive scope of their stage tricks, which are revealed simply and reverently. At first I was frustrated that such impressive stagecraft was being wasted on a script and a group of performers that could not match the theatricality, but by the end it became clear to me that this was the point: We can be lured into a world that is transformative and magical and simultaneously very real and without pretense. The piece ultimately invites us to see the wonder and playfulness of our everyday experiences. Unlike the performances that most of us are used to, where text or movement or live actors are the main channel for communicating meaning, here the set pieces become like puppets, guiding us into the true depth of the experience.
- Kate Holly