Thursday, 22 September 2011

Coco's Review

As I enter these doors, into a darkened room, something remarkable is hanging before me, around 100 bulbs of all different shapes and sizes, some are lit, some are dimmed. These hang above an empty space on the floor which is surrounded by chairs, chairs which look identical, all dark grey with wear to them, revealing the wood which once was before they were covered with this colour. As I take my seat, I notice something peculiar with the chairs, each has a piece missing, each different.
The production begins. Four actresses, they all wear the same pale blue dress, and have similar voices, so we get the feeling that they may be the same person. They all work so well, flowing off one an other with their sweet, calm voices. It unravels beautifully into a story of a wonderful woman named Flora, but she suffers with dementia. Melanie Wilson portrays dementia in a delicate but very realistic way, using four actresses as Flora at 4 different ages in her life.
Throughout the play the bulbs dance with light as Flora pieces together parts of her memory. They flash dramatically and suddenly blacken when she is frustrated or lost in her thoughts trying to make sense of the world and what has happened to her. Having Flora at four ages allows the audience to see how her thought process has worsened over time.
Melanie Wilson studied sound well, and one can tell through out the play. She uses muffled, confused noises and under water sounds to create a very alone feel. As the play moves forward we realise the doors were almost the entry to Floras mind and we watch how her head works as she looks back to the past at all her ages to piece her life together.
There is a chilling moment in the play when all the lights dim and the four Floras stand in a line, the light flashes and a young Flora is suddenly seen weaving through her older self/s. Her silhouette is seen in the doorway and she disappears. The room goes black and the audience are left in Flora's fear. Golden light is shown through the circular windows from the outside and leaves golden circles on the floor with the Flora's talking again looking at the windows. It is at this point I realise the symbolism of the doors. "We are very much inside Flora's mind, and the doors symbolise the outside world, the lighting bulbs above bare resemblance to neuroelectric currents inside of Flora's body, and the sound represents her confusion and panic." I thought.
The play continued to excite and interest me and gave me a great insight into the complex disease that is, Dementia, and how we should approach it with much more patience and insight.

So kind of you to come...

Madame Coco and the Living Picture.

Tableau Vivant? It is French for Living Picture. In the 18th century it became apparent that historical paintings combined with theatrical performance created the most elegant, social entertainment of that period. It was a clever and beautiful thing, to place together two types of artistic forms. Two forms, performance and art, and they worked so spectacularly well.

Madame Coco's fascination lies in the bringing together of the two art forms, mixing the artist's chosen style and the performance. Many Artists have done this and succeeded, such as David Hockney's 'A Rake's Progress' (Image A.) The idea of actors being in and around objects which look as though they have been picked out of a sketchbook, blown up to life size and placed on a stage is simply beautiful.
Below (Image B.) is a still of Madam Coco's first Set Design, for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Everything was to look like a giant sketch or etching. Costume and Make-up was to blend into the set, creating her very own, first, Tableau Vivant.

Image A.
(Madam Coco's favourite Set Design to date.)
Image B.