Updated: Oct 24, 2019
A stellar combination of physical theatre, clown, comedy, wonder-inducing effects and a little dose of theatrical magic, this new devised work from the Steps and Holes Theatre Company has it all!
Staged inside the expansive Red Box Theatre as part of the Legs Hub of Sydney Fringe Festival 2019, Le Vide is an abstract exploration of the fragility of the human condition in the face of adversity. This devised piece takes the audience on a touching sentimental journey through our delicate psyche and makes poignant use of classical poetry to vocalise the story.
Le Vide (French “the empty”) is a tender and expressionistic piece of theatre that is designed to ask the audience what choice they will make when they are swirling in the abyss of the unknown. Throughout the piece, we see the two performers (Kate Walder and Andre Jewson) independently searching, failing and inevitably falling into that space.
In the ever-increasing competitiveness of today’s independent theatre world, many creatives try to push the limit in terms of making risky, risqué, expensive or (albeit unintended) crass and offensive choices in an attempt to boost their audience numbers. The pure delight of Le Vide is that it reminds us of how easy it really is to entertain an audience and instil that feeling of childlike curiosity and wonderment. The set is minimalistic and the sophisticated economy of lighting and sound is all that is necessary to create this atmosphere of euphoric joy.
Andre Jewson is brilliant as the enthusiastic and tenacious “hero” of the story. His physical dexterity is superb, in particular during the segment where he relentlessly experiments with the orientation and positioning of his workspace – it was sublimely executed and absolutely compelling to watch.
Kate Walder, the creative conceptualist and director of the production, shines as the lovable “heroine”. A truly gifted clown, she channels the perfect balance of naivete and charm. Her precise agility and comedic timing must be commended, particularly as we watched her struggle in that all too familiar and relatable moment of trying to snap back a reversed umbrella in the midst of gusting winds – so simple, so effective.
Between both performers, there were moments however where some of the dialogue was lost in the resonant space. Particularly during some of the more energetic segments where there was sound elements at play.
Despite this, the strong collaboration between the lighting (Liam O’Keefe) and sound design (Tegan Nicholls; Asst. Sake Nicholls-Watson) became one of the most stellar aspects of the production. The sound design primarily drew from classical genres and this worked wonderfully to create an appropriate aural aesthetic for the story. The lighting design worked in tandem with this to cultivate the immersive atmosphere. The lighting design overall was quite impressive, specifically with the use of patterned lighting and the reflective shadowing of performers to tell its own story.
As the show came to its close and the audience started to applaud, I looked around and thought “that can’t be it!”. I was so immersed in my ethereal bubble for 50 minutes as this production took me on a magical journey. The sentimentality along with the economically simple but awe-inspiring special effects gave me a feeling I can only describe as Harry Potter-esque. Le Vide is a heart-warming piece of theatrical magic.
Venue Legs on the Wall (Lilyfield), 4-6 September 2019
Conceived and Directed by Kate Walder
Cover Image by 51 Watts Design
DISCLAIMER: This and all other reviews posted by A Millennial with an Opinion/JTA Official/Jessie Trompp are the honest personal opinions of a theatre-goer and are not reflective in any way of the opinions of others who have seen the production.