Reviews Edinburgh Published 26 August 2013

L’Après-midi d’un Foehn

Summerhall ⋄ 2nd-25th August 2013

Plastic ballerinas.

Lucy Ribchester

Like a magic circle, a neon white ring encloses the staging area around which the audience gather. Inside it sit several metal fans and a flat pink plastic bag. Slowly, reverentially, performer Jean-Louis Ouvrard withdraws from his pocket and brandishes a pair of scissors, then slices the bag into wide strips. There’s an air of Tony Hart to proceedings as he sticky tapes the pieces together into the loose shape of a human. When he’s done, it’s not much to look at, a stubby-legged two-dimensional pink toy person. But as he crumples it up and lays it stage centre, then switches his fans on one by one, something extraordinary begins to happen.

The breath of the first fan pushes the bag into its full quivering shape. As the rest pick up speed and the score gives way to Debussy’s ‘Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune’, the bag starts to dance, beautifully expressive in its leans and spread arms, pirouetting on the point of a single plastic bag-handle foot. Ouvrard slides another into the space to join it and they duet like seasoned ballet dancers. There must be an element of fate in the movement as Ouvrard plays his fans like piano keys, controlling their dynamics, but you could swear that at one time or another, during our show, the striped bag holds the pink one as it spins, then bounces it up into the air to be caught again. Cunning as a fairytale tramp in his blue wool greatcoat, Ouvrard is soon adding to his army, pulling coloured bags from his pockets until a confetti of weightless dancers are billowing merrily.

The dainty pastel chaos of the full ballet corps however never quite matches the ingenious magic of that first duet. It’s a beautiful image, all the ballerinas careering individually up and down, or pulled together into a mass cloud, but something is lost from the detail of their movements.

It all turns out rather cruel in the end too, for a show with a five plus rating in terms of age, as Ouvrard takes his fists to his creations and tears them to shreds. But before this unhappy denouement, we are treated to some of the most original – and perhaps even the most beautiful – dance in the Fringe.


Lucy Ribchester is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

L’Après-midi d’un Foehn Show Info

Produced by Crying Out Loud in partnership with Company Non Nova

Cast includes Jean-Louis Ouvrard




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