via shadowclown flickr

via shadowclown flickr

last thursday, the kimmel center hosted the united states’ east coast premiere of The Andersen Project by robert lepage.  named for, based off of + inspired by hans christian andersen’s fairy tales: The Shadow + The Dryad, The Andersen Project begins with yves jacques as a young street artist creating a daguerreotype-esque image of andersen and defacing said photo.  jacques is the talented french-canadian actor representing lepage’s vision and enacting the one-man show brilliantly. beyond jacques’ performance and lepage’s script, the set design deserves explicit praise.  for a two hour show <no intermission> the transitions were seamless and elegant.  the large white screen was creatively integrated and built with a shelf so that jacques could stand within the motion and interact more gracefully.  jacques’ convincing depiction of each character was enhanced by the outstanding puppeteer responsible for evoking a chaotic dog from wire and leash alone.

also from shadowclowns flickr

also from shadowclown's flickr

the show not only danced with andersen’s themes but also touched upon lepage’s personal experiences in paris <perfect for the dryad> and delved into more intimate arenas exploring sexual identity, unfulfilled fantasy and thirst for recognition <which it seems both lepage and andersen shared>  one review writes:

“This is a production like a matrioshka doll; both character and themes are exposed by the delicate peeling of fine layers. Each small action and omission will come to have meaning; each betrayal, each lie, each Fall will claim its price in time. Even an apparent joke, such as the rope that features ridiculously in a solemn commentary in the museum that commemorates Denmark’s greatest national figure, turns out to have far more significance than any in the audience might have imagined.”

childhood favorite

childhood favorite

if i may make one very small critique it would be about the brief moments of spoken french with accompanying subtitles.  the english translation was displayed towards the ground and often hard <for me> to read.  if only i paid better attention in my 1/3 year of french in the 8th grade. <mrs. smith put me in the back of the room for cheating.  little did she realize that this actually encouraged the audacious behavior.  doh.> residual problem: i missed some jokes about the english and the french.

my first introduction to andersen was the snow queen. my mother’s favorite fairytale, it was a book i read often as a child and plan to return to in the coming week.  like le petit prince, i strongly suggest it for adults and youngster alike.  for serious.

the most popular tourist attraction in Denmark

the most popular tourist attraction in Denmark

for those unfamiliar with any of the andersen works listed, arguably his most famous piece – the little mermaid – was made popular, and named ariel, by disney.

several years ago, on a return flight from st.petersburg, russia, with a 7 hour layover in copenhagen, i took a quick boat tour through copenhagento to visit the famed little mermaid statue.  she gracefully transitions this performance review  into a sneak peak of this week’s coney tuesday: this coming saturday is the fabulous mermaid parade!  look out for more details tomorrow.  and also look out for lepage’s work in your town today.

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