Photo – Sean Dennie
Theatre need not be a complicated affair. Let a captivating performer have a space and a story to tell to an audience, and theatre might ensue. Add a simple prop, some lights, and a song or two into the equation, and your potential for theatre grows exponentially. Performer Lucy Hopkins has devised a one-woman show called Le Foulard using that basic formula, and the result is theatre at its most inspired, and inspiring.
Hopkins has created a character who is An Artist, and who has come to enlighten and uplift us through her Art Show. She enters the scene at the top of the show by running through the dimly lit space with a silky black cloth flowing from her upstretched arms. Then The Artist greets us with an introduction into her Art World, from whence she brings us gifts, herself being the most important gift she has to offer.
The Artist begins to manipulate the cloth around her body, and as she does, characters emerge. One seems to be of Spanish origin, is intensely melodramatic and delivers her lines in a flamenco-cum-fencing stance, with the cloth wrapped around her neck. The next character emerges when The Artist wraps the cloth around her waist to form a long skirt; this one is an excessively chipper and optimistic personage, who is not unlike a kindergarten teacher with a multitude of funny physical ticks. There is a third, non-speaking character that pops in periodically when the cloth is wrapped around The Artist’s head.
These characters start to converse with each other, each competing for The Artist’s and the audience’s attention, and eventually taking over the show. The Artist struggles to regain control over these characters, and indeed of the cloth itself.
Le Foulard is French for veil, Lucy Hopkins tells us. But it isn’t, really. The word foulard means scarf, which is the key to the show’s tongue-in-cheek irony. Hopkins presents a show that pokes fun at all the pretensions we find in the art world, and the title is a perfect encapsulation of her intent. It’s supposed to sound more cultivated because it’s French, but the irony is that it just means The Scarf and not The Veil, as The Artist would like us to think.
Lucy Hopkins is absolutely fascinating to watch. Her body is limber and spry, and although she seems quite small in stature, her arms and hands seem to stretch on forever, extending into the space around her with grace and agility. She extends her core energy out to her very fingertips, and her elastic features morph and mutate into striking expressions that delineate the competing characters. She sings and dances for us in a sprightly, puckish way that has us hanging on every syllable and every gesture. She brings joy with her on stage, and it is infectious.
While the show starts out as a parody of “Art for Art’s sake,” presented by a self-congratulatory Artist character, it ends up being a genuine piece of art, given to us by a true artist who should congratulate herself for creating a uniquely wonderful piece.
Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights and Lucy Hopkins in association with PICA presents
Venue: The Blue Room Theatre | 53 James Street, Northbridge WA
Dates: 19 – 23 February 2013
Tickets: $22 – $25
Part of Fringe World 2013
8:30pm March 2nd-11th & 12th-17th
Red Room, The Tuxedo Cat, 199 North Terrace, Adelaide
9:45pm March 27th-April 21st (not wednesdays)
The Tuxedo Cat
8pm April 24th - 27th
Brisbane Powerhouse, Turbine Studio, 119 Lamington Street, New Farm