Snow White unmasked at last at Vidy

Métilde Weyergans and Samuel Hercule revive the tale’s famous evil step-mother in an exhilarating show of great virtuosity, suitable for viewing by groups or families up until Saturday.

Their tale is so good, it would be a shame to miss it. Running at the Théâtre de Vidy until Saturday, the Grimm brothers’ Snow White troubles the reader in a lasting way through the things she confesses to. But she’s not the one to spill the beans, but rather her diabolical step-mother, well known as a sadistic-narcissistic pest. Except that Samuel Hercule and Métilde Weyergans, a couple at home and on stage, have decided to redeem her in the light of current blueprints of family structures.

The evil one pours her heart out, encouraged to confide in us by two wonderful musicians, Timothée Jolly at the piano and Florie Perroud playing percussions. For our greatest pleasure, this “Snow White or the Fall of the Berlin Wall” plays a two-faced game.

But why Berlin and its sinister abscess? For the pleasure of friction, of free association – a wall can hide another wall. As an introduction, Timothée Jolly and Florie Perroud are on the alert behind their instruments, ready to pounce. In the foreground, stage right, a garden gnome chuckles accompanied by fairground music. But he blows up. A song then rises from a crypt. Front stage, Métilde Weyergans, slender as an amazon, fervently states her vision in a chiaroscuro voice. Listen to her.

Blanche and her ennui in the social housing flat

«My name is Elizabeth, I’m 42, and I play the evil part in this tale, the one who, in the end, dies of a broken heart, has her feet burned with a hot iron or loses her mind – that depends on the version…» Timothée Jolly and Florie Perroud are now given free rein, the crew takes off. But now Blanche, a teenager the color of licorice, is on the giant screen, sullen enough to crack the linoleum of her room. She carries her ennui around in the corridors of the social housing block, the aptly named “Kingdom”. Her father, Udo, who is an acrobat, gets a call to work for a great Russian circus. Here’s to the trapeze! From then on, Blanche is dominated by her aerial step-mother Elizabeth – she is a flight attendant – and as severe as the housekeeper in Hitchcock’s Rebecca.

Sound effects, magical craftsmanship

And what about the mirror in all this? It’s about to make an appearance. Elisabeth breaks out into a sweat: «Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful…» The treacherous mirror is true to the original tale, cruel…. Blanche is the most beautiful in the Kingdom.

The story is told through a silent movie dubbed live by Métilde Weyergans and Samuel Hercule. in front of the latter, a conveyor belt gradually feeds him the various sound effect accessories.

It could become a gimmick, but it’s exhilarating.

We derive pleasure from being captive and accomplice to a chain of events. All the elements conspire to delight you, the tricks of a contemporary fairy tale and the musical interludes, the highly precise voice work and the humor of transposition – Prince Charming is delightfully gawky and pimply. On screen we see the Berlin Wall crumble in front of a jubilant crowd. Samuel Hercule is the commentator for this liberation as we sit in our chairs time traveling 20 years back.

This version of Snow White curls around adolescence, with its long body notched with hope. That makes it beautiful. But true to the spirit of la Cordonnerie, a company born in Lyon in 1997, it also breathes into it something precious: the idea that the theater is a box full of magic. Métilde Weyergans and Samuel Hercule turn their play acting into a tale in itself. A piece of happy magic.

January 19, 2017.