Rating: 4.5 words – Sophisticated, Vibrant, Avant-garde, Exciting
London is home to many theatre festivals which revolve around specific cultures and identities, and here is another exciting addition to the city’s multicultural artistic scene. The idea for the Voilà festival started a few years ago, first curated by the great Peter Joucla and now by the enthusiastic Sharlit Deyzac. It’s been going from strength to strength at the cosy Cockpit Theatre. As the only French theatre festival in town, it’s no surprise it was sold out on the night we visited.
The first play of the evening, Borderline, was a comedy about the refugee crisis. Initially, it feels at odds with the concept it tries to set: a comedy? About a tragedy? The audience reacts suspiciously and the laughter feels uncomfortable. But ten minutes in we are all completely taken by the charm of its refugee performers. Director Sophie Besse does a fine job at generating nuanced comedy, sometimes appealing to the grotesque of the situations refugees fall into, at others ironising the view of Europeans on the crisis. There is also beautiful, poignant imagery created by the ensemble who clearly loves being on stage together.
The second play, Nadja was more an avant-garde experiment than a theatre production. The company had the huge challenge to adapt this André Breton surreal novel to the stage. Unfortunately, it’s more of an attempt than a fully developed piece of theatre. More time to evolve the idea and some dramaturgical work would perhaps be beneficial. But the slightly under-developed tone does not obscure the hard work of its performers, who manage to pull out strong theatrical moments despite the difficult premise.
These two contrasting productions actually make for a sophisticated eclectic programming and a vibrant festival. We are excited to see how much Voilà! will evolve in the next few years and oui, we’ll be returning for more theatre `a la French.
Borderline by PSYCHEdelight is on on Sunday 6th of Nov , 4pm
Nadja by Cassandra Fumi is on on Tuesday 8th of Nov , 8.30pm