Sunday, 4 November 2012

La Fille à la Mode - review

Written by: Sophie Foulds (@SophieFoulds)

Theatre Royal Haymarket, London

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous!” according to Coco Chanel. Dante or Die Theatre (in partnership with Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust) attempts to decipher this notion and the notion of the ʻIt Girlʼ in its re-worked production of La Fille a La Mode; the title inspired by the historic Theatre Royal Haymarket’s first ever production in 1720. Daphna Attias and Terry OʼDonovans choice to settle their promenade, dance-theatre piece within the grand theatre creates an instant sense of mystery and allurement; there is a certain romance about the place. Though one could question what relevance (title aside) did the theatre have to such a specific subject matter, that it would need to transcend periods of time and not get stuck in the history and time that the Haymarket holds.
Performed by a cast of diversely talented dancers, musicians and actors, the audience is lead from episode to episode. Each solo sequence is choreographed imaginatively making use of the intimate stairwells of the theatre. The dancing sequences, whether against the backdrop of the safety curtain and soft straw lighting of the auditorium or being watched through the old glass along the corridors behind the upper circle are executed with precision and with a clear vintage aesthetic. Music accompanies the majority of the piece, which immediately adds depth to the otherwise predominantly visual piece. The music also helps to carry the piece from one scene to the next as the promenade progresses quite quickly and we were often prompted by our usherette to move onto to the next stage, which, although necessary, often dissipated any atmosphere created by the performance we had just witnessed.

As far as the piece goes at depicting the ʻIt Girlʼ and the exploration into its “celebration and exploitation” throughout time (and accepting Amy Jacksonʼs costume design without which would have made it hard to decipher each character and the period of time in which she was meant to be representing), the piece fell short of the mark. 
Though the exploratory and collaborative theatre company and cast did well to create such an imaginative and visually stimulating string of almost installations, it was simply too mild and too predictable. It may be my cynical view on a piece of theatre simply showing me, a woman, the portrayal of women through the ages and the struggle between what a woman should be and what she is. But surely there is more? I’m just not entirely sure what their opinion on the ʻIt Girlʼ is, and in a cast of seven women I’m sure there were some thoughts.
This production runs until 9 November 2012 (selected dates only).
For more information:
@TRH_London #LaFille 
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