The stage goes dark with a crack, as a lightbulb falls to the floor. A man in the great tower of STUFF on stage right begins fiddling with gears and levers, but only seems to generate sparks. In the flashes of fitful illumination, human beings dressed in white briefs and long fur coats scurry amidst the wreckage like exposed cockroaches. A set disintegrates with every step of the performer, beginning with a door crumbling inwards as an ever-so-tired worker comes open. A man flees from a falling pile of boxes over thirty feet high. And there's this man, in a purple dress, who just wants to get back to the one man party he's hosting in the closet.
It's a strange, dark and terrible world made flesh on stage, you see, but in these days of panic and uncertainty it all feels so terribly familiar. There's no music that isn't beaten out by gibbering performers on the backs of tables, and a vast silence is felt, vast and bloated and waiting, just beyond the chaos so well choreographed downstage. Tunnels of light are forged with a few flickering spots here and there, and performers tend to be lit for their shapes rather than their expressions. What expressions we do see are always those of fear. Well, except for the purple man. He has his own miniature disco ball in the closet and he's doing fine.
It's not all kooky silent French madness, though it certainly is that. There is much comic timing and much laughter (monkeys like to laugh at other monkeys in pain), and there is so much detritus falling about that you are a bit shocked that no one gets conked in the head. A woman has gravity reverse on her out of sheer belligerence, and men in coats bury her under furniture for convenience. A vast and terrible war is played out between paraplegics over a glass of water. What does it all mean? The title translates to 'suddenly', and that's how it is, isn't it? All your proud and noble efforts, and along comes an ass with a wheelbarrow to take away the glass of water.
Maybe it's a bit long, and maybe it's a bit shadowy and, as some sorts in the seats around me commented, it's very French. I dunno. While I was watching those poor benighted fools onstage, I was reminded of the joy of seeing limbs flail amidst dim lights, and shapes descend into vast caverns beyond easy sight. I wished to rush onto stage and hug them, for the desire to be among them, and dig through their junk. Hope persists, but it has begun to gnaw, I admit.
All that aside, it was a sight, oh yes it was. I was struck, as the lights (really) rose and the public twittered to itself, how one voice was heard to sneer "Yes, but all that could be done by anyone with a lot of hard work."
As if that were an insult.
The show was L'Immediêt by Camille Boitel, and here is were you can see it: