The London International Mime Festival has yet again unveiled a smorgasboard of hidden gems, delighting audiences with a theatrical vocabulary of the physical, the visual and the genre defying. He Who Falls quite literally rips up the floor boards and levitates expectation with its imaginative charm.
Yoann Bourgeois materialises a daring world of the unstable. The ensemble’s aim, to survive whatever the suspended wooden platform, which forms the focal point for the production, throws at them. He Who Falls starts as it means to go on, I’m left gasping, watching the stage in disbelief as the cast roll down and stop themselves from falling from the suspended, tilted wooden platform.
I leave the auditorium with a series of stunning phrases etched in my mind. A sequence accompanied by Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” witnesses the 6 strong cast beautifully and skilfully cross the wooden platform in a group formation, however magically making it appear as if no movement is taking place at all. This effortlessness is an absolute marvel, infusing the piece with a high standard that leaves me wanting to see more.
Camaraderie is key in He Who Falls, although the stage presents itself as an obstacle course, and the cast; game show competitors battling to survive, collaboration truly unveils itself as the winner of the evening. The lines, the shapes, the formations performed by the cast truly inspire. A powerful image of the cast suspended mid air with their bodies in profile whilst they crawl across in a straight line is striking.
Danger is inherent in this production, with the wooden platform at one point tilted vertically 180 degrees with a cast member standing on it’s edge. The ensemble look longingly up at him, waiting for him to find his way down. I’m left repeating the mantra throughout the sequence ‘what goes up, must come down’ to which the cast brilliantly respond to every time. If the staging isn’t being suspended, or the corners being raised, the cast are using it as a giant pendulum in which they dodge, slide under, jump on top of or brutally get knocked by, offering a dark sense of humour, yet unleashing a gasp orchestra courtesy of the audience’s audible disbelief.
I write this review knowing that attempting to capture the magic witnessed by this amazing troupe is near impossible, and that if they are ever in town again that they are an absolute must see if looking for an unforgettable show. 5/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
He Who Falls was shown at the Barbican Pit on Wednesday 3rd until Saturday 6th February as part of this year’s London International Mime Festival. For more information on Compagnie Yoann Bourgeois, visit here…