International Children’s Festival: Emmanuel Zeesman returns to Ottawa.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Categories: Professional Theatre

A prehistoric, prelinguistic fantasy where Moitié la francophone (Emmanuelle Zeesman) and  Please the Anglophone (Sharmila Dey) , wander around  in a world of brightly coloured chaos. They  grunt, and growl  snarl,  grab and roar. They have no inkling of civilised behaviour. Most of all they do not possess langauge, at least at first they don’t appear to,  and they don’t even know what it is to communicate. They express their basic instincts…like cave people.  They are hungry -  they grab food and stuff it in their mouth;  they are frightened – they protect themselves. They feel threatened – they draw territorial limits. they attack. They freeze they find what they can to cover themselves.   They have something they like, they  keep it. They have no concept of sharing of helping.

Then the situation evolves.   When it gets cold they need to exchange clothes. They are attracted to the other’s toys so they feel the desire to exchange toys.  The need for reciprocal comforts makes them try to communicate and eventually to share: Moitié in French, Please in English.  Little by little it works.

 

If you ever saw that Norman MacLaren film of human animation: Neighbours, where two individuals defend their territory, and defend their boundaries like primitive man,  to the point that shows the absurd logic of the atomic bomb. they are prepared to tear each other apart to keep their own territory.  There are moments that reminded me of that film…the sheer bestiality of it. However, the creatures in Otawa  are more playful, less terrifying and eventually, after thrashing it all out,  they make concessions and come to live together.    Even the youngest member of the audience was enthralled by this strange duel that was perfectly choreographed with martial arts mouvements,  clown like hi -jinks and acrobatic gestures. It worked for the youngsters in spite of the vague story-line  line because the language was so close to that of the the young audience:  "That’s mine",   "Non, c’est à moi!"  "gimme that! vous êtes chez moi. Allez-vous en ..go home, this is my house". The tribal sounding music was perfect for  the atmosphere, and the choreography kept it all flowing and turning at a most rapid rate. A very original piece of work that will no doubt keep classes talking for a long time. Perfect for small children 4 and up.

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht
Ottawa, May 30, 2012

by David S. Craig & Robert Morgan

Directed by Thomas Morgan Jones
Set & Costume Design by Lindsay Anne Black
Lighting Design by David DeGrow
Original Music by Desbashis Sinha
Stage Management by Elizabeth McDermott

Cast: Sharmila Dey as Please and Emmanuelle Zeesman as Moitié


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