L’après-midi d’un Fœhn-Version 1. Bristol Old Vic Studio Theatre

Take one man, six office fans and 30 plastic bags and with the help of some lighting and the music of Debussy you have an unlikely but captivating show for children. Ah… there’s the bit that’s missing. When I saw it in Bristol around 80% of the audience were adults with comparatively few families, mums and tiny ones in tow. The 25 minute ballet des sacs en plastique transfixed the mostly twenty-somethings who sat in the circular space to see this mesmerising performance.

Plunged into darkness with lights picking out the ballet master played by Jean-Louis Ouvard in his woollen hat and greatcoat and six steel office fans arranged in a circle we watched as the fans carried the plastic bags into the air. Each was made so as to appear when inflated like little bouncy toddlers leaping around, ascending and descending as the ballet master walked in their midst. He opened the show by making one of these little plastic people using scissors and tape before releasing into the freedom of the circle.

As the music of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune mingled with the whirring of the fans and the crinkling sound of the bags colliding in the air around the umbrella wielding performer the faces of those few children in the front row were mesmerised by the hypnotic mixture of sight, sound and movement.We were warned not to enter the stage area but I felt I wanted to walk amongst the floating bags and experience that magic when an autumn wind blows up leaves in a vortex around you as you walk through a park on a blustery day.

Perhaps it was the sound that soothed the audience into a trance or perhaps it was the ingenious way the fans were assembled giving life to the bags to float seemingly at will to the ceiling and back again. Dancing around Ouvard who ushered the bages around like a group of reception year children on a school trip. As creator, he gave life and then as the mood changed he became the destroyer slashing and cutting his brood until they were just a mound of trash in his hands as the music the lights and fans died.

A neat and beautifully simple idea to symbolised birth, life and death, using the humblest of everyday consumables – and all without words. Directed by Phia Menard the French Company non Nova production is a joyously magical 25 minutes of theatre that will keep not only children quiet, but all those 20-somethings as well.

Five Stars                                                  

Harry Mottram

The Company Non Nova show was presented jointly by the Bristol Old Vic, crying Out Loud and Circomedia.

The show is currently on tour:

Sun 19th Oct 1pm, 3pm & Mon 20th Oct 10.30am, 1.30pm The Civic, Barnsley

Thurs 23rd Oct 5.30pm, 7.30pm & Sat 25th Oct 12noon, 2.30pm Cambridge Junction

Sun 26th Oct 12.30pm, 2pm, 3.30pm Lighthouse Poole

More details are available at http://www.cryingoutloud.org