The Toad Knew review – James hierrée’s seductive wonder-world

Lost in a crystal maze … Valerie Doucet and James Thierrée in The Toad Knew.Now not so much a show as a mass hallucination, the today’s piece from James Thierrée places a spell at the audience with its mixture of ravishing visuals, seductive song, and breathtaking acrobatics. Thierrée was raised in a circus; Charlie Chaplin turned into his grandfather and the yank playwright Eugene O’Neill turned into his superb-grandfather. All of these effects are obvious in a piece that doesn’t provide a rattling whether or not it’s theatre, dance, circus, slapstick or a beguiling mix of all of them.

The Chaplin impact is in particular sturdy in a chain of silent clowning sequences completed by using the reputedly rubber-boned Thierrée, who does one-armed combat with a grudgeful violin and wears a coat that sprouts palms from its wallet. He shares a fruitful relationship with Yann Nédélec, who performs mournful, the impish stooge to Thierrée’s floppy-haired maestro, who appears continuously each overjoyed and taken aback by his own virtuosity.Mournful stooge and floppy-haired maestro … Yann Nédélec and James Thierrée.

So he should be. This is a display of wonders and miracles set in a fairytale world – a sorcerer’s apprentice-style laboratory or crystal maze in which technological know-how meets magic, with Heath Robinson-fashion machines and trick spiral staircases. As the first few minutes make clear – whilst the crimson curtain falls as opposed to rises, as it would on a conventional piece of theatre – there may be the little factor in expending an excessive amount of electricity seeking to make a feel of what goes on. Don’t fear what precisely it is that the toad knew, or try to impose narrative good judgment. In spite of everything, That is a show in which a female turns into a lizard and mounds of plates and a piano tackle lifestyles of their personal.


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there’s nothing concrete, however, there are hints and clues. The relationship between Thierrée and the terrific, backflipping Valérie Doucet may be that of enthusiasts, however, it can simply as without difficulty be a Prospero and Miranda-fashion father-and-daughter courting, or two siblings imprisoned inside their personal dream. There are moments right here that recall Ophelia floating in her watery weeds and there may be a touch of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, too, alongside the fairytale motifs. There’s even a head-spinning second that makes you believe you studied of The Exorcist, and, of a route, Chaplin’s Modern-day Instances is also lurking around the edges.Seductive witch … Mariama.

The display is haunted with the aid of the singer Mariama, who makes use of her sublime voice like a witch to seduce, as if promising something sweet, dark and forbidden, and it’s miles visually enchanting, with the aerialist Thi-Mai Nguyen limber and airy inside the suspended structures that seem like water lilies or upside-down toadstools.

This is not a display for individuals who like their theatre to be concrete, trouble-based and quite virtually approximately something. For the rest of us, it offers a risk to dream and allows our imaginations to take flight and leap with a little help from Thierrée and his toad.