07 February 2006

It's hard to know what to say about Robert Lepage's show The Andersen Project.

I'd not seen his work before and found it dazzling, moving also.

There's a frisson seeing someone widely acknowledged as A Great Artist doing his thing.

Except those in the know tell me ruefully that his thing was better when it was simpler, more about his performance than the filmic and the hydraulic elements.

The Andersen Project is the tale of a writer's defeat at the hands of the execs and marketing people. Frederic Lapointe has been commissioned to write an opera about HC Andersen for an international co-production. The Project never gets beyond the planning, but Lepage stages the story anyway, within the telling of the failure. Very touching and wry storytelling, and thrilling invention in the staging.

Saddened though by the feeling that this man, though he be a genius, was somewhat isolated in his performance bubble. The production, with its sliding stages, in-swooping lights, extraordinary through-score and enthusiastic following in the huge Barbican Theatre, felt at times, in those moments when I wasn't mesmerised by Lepage's gifts, like a 'stadium rock' sort of gig, one for the fans.

At the same time, the show could be said to be about loneliness and isolation and my sadness could have been the desired effect...

Fascinated by the fact that Ova Girl saw this very show four weeks ago in Sydney.

And of course in the piece Lepage ruminates on what it means to be a global artist, seems to want to communicate that it's not altogether a desirable thing to be.

Coincidentally Mark Ravenhill today writes about artists going global.

Bumped into lots of theatre people at the show, natch.


Anonymous said...

In his post-show talk with Richard Eyre last week, Lepage talked a lot about the team of creative technicians who travel with him and explicitly compared his role to being lead singer in a band. He also said that any one man show is "by definition" about loneliness.

sbs said...

Thanks for this - yeah, I later read what he said about the inbuilt loneliness. It's all really interesting. Makes me think of the melancholy of the best stand-up comedians, like Stewart Lee, Steven Wright.

Ova Girl said...

Good observation sbs, I put a lot of that isolation factor down to the god awful Death To Acoustics Sydney Theatre where his show was produced.

sbs said...

Wish you'd seen it with me and L and G! (sure you know, Barbican acoustics are pretty fine.)