Yet another show where the focus is entirely on the big screen? In part, yes. For twenty years now, the company La Cordonnerie has been adapting fairy tales and striving to blur the boundaries between film and theater. To achieve this, Métilde Weyergans and Samuel Hercule, the authors-actors-musicians, begin by shooting a (silent) movie which they screen during the performance adding the sound effects live and playing all the characters of the story. The result is stunning for this tale inspired by Grimm’s work, created in 2015.

Here Hansel and Gretel are no longer children abandoned by their parents, but two retired magicians living with their son Jacob, an unemployed thirty year-old who sleeps in a small caravan parked in a wasteland on the edge of the forest.

With vintage sets and big collar disco shirts, the action is clearly set in the ‘70s. Times are tough, the plates are empty. The parents are penniless since they’ve been fired from “The Circus Ring”, the program they hosted on TV. Nevertheless, they keep their deep rooted sense of humor. Hansel (Michel Crémadès) still gets a kick out of resting his skeleton’s hand on Gretel’s (Manuela Gourary) hand.

Weyergans and Hercule are aces at creating sound effects out of nothing. They rustle a plastic wrapper to imitate an egg sizzling in the pan, stamp on a pile of photo negatives to evoke footsteps in the forest. It’s lighthearted and highly entertaining. Two musicians (piano, drums) perform the musical score for the full hour. Flawless.

In the Grimm brothers’ version of the story, the father gives in to the cruel stepmother. Here, it is the naive son, who gives in to Barbara, a troubling dark-haired woman he has fallen in love with. She has him under her spell and persuades him to abandon his parents in the woods. That’s two less mouths to feed!

Even if there is a happy ending – our heroes make it back to the caravan after a short stay with the witch – we are struck by the new dimension given to the tale, its cruelty. Elderly people abandoned by their families and relations…there’s nothing fantastical about that.  Is the witch who devours our elderly waiting in the forest? She’s got the wrong address, the retirement homes are full.

Bon appétit!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017