BAM – Being a Man Festival 2015 takes place at the Southbank Centre this weekend. The festival addresses the challenges and pressures of masculine identity in the 21st century and offers a platform for men to share experiences as well as free music, exhibitions, workshops, and discussion groups. Of course there are also a variety of shows and I went to see Hervé again, which I had reviewed almost five years ago when it was playing at the Rosemary Branch Theatre, shortly before it went on to the Edinburgh Fringe where it was nominated for a Fringe First Award.
This is a highly entertaining and provocative piece based on the true story about a busker of French African descent who was adopted by an unconventional white Belgian couple. Hervé takes his audience on a journey from Mali to Belgium, Chad to Cannes, and back to the UK. This collection of songs, dances and stories makes for a thoroughly enjoyable show, written by Michael Birch and Hervé Goffings.
Hervé’s performance of the Michael Jackson number “Black or White” establishes his character – a busker – who entertains the shoppers and passers-by. After showing his skills as a dancer, Hervé embarks on a journey back to his roots in Mali – he introduces his biological parents: Béatrice: a self-confident woman who was nevertheless bound by her family traditions which made it impossible for her to raise a child without being married, and Blaise, who was not interested in becoming a father and blamed Béatrice for the mishap.
We are also introduced to Hervé’s adoptive parents – Jean Pierre, who was meant to become a priest but turned into an idealistic adventurer instead, and Paule, a feminist who never intended to marry or raise a family. Yet Paule is bewitched by the little Hervé and she agrees to become his adoptive mother. Shortly after Hervé’s adoption, his half-brother Sebastian is born. They grow up together watching hippopotami, fishing in the river, and climbing mango trees before the whole family moves to Southern France. Hervé goes back and forth in time talking about his parents and his own childhood, his military service in France and subsequent studies of musical theatre in Glasgow.
Hervé Goffings portrays every character in his story with humour and sensitivity. I am particularly taken by Jean Pierre, who comes to life as soon as Hervé pulles a pipe from his pocket and commences puffing on it. Hervé Goffings has great audience rapport and presents a highly entertaining show that also discusses very serious matters. The 60 minutes pass far too quickly. 4/5
Review written by Carolin Kopplin.
Hervé was shown on Saturday 28th November only. For more information on Hervé Goffings, visit here…