ZEPA (Zone Européenne de Projets Artistiques) – Stéphanie Bescond

(Amiens Fête dans la Ville – July 2012)



Whalley Range All Stars and Babok plunge the audience into a poetic and unpredictable journey. A perpetually-moving show.

On the pavement, ten wooden boxes are lined up like dominoes. Few pay much attention to them until from around the corner appears a weird band. The ‘coffins’ are pulled violently into the middle of street, their wooden doors creak open and the performers start singing a primitive song, melodic and captivating. From the bottom of these strange coffins, they exhume ten human scale puppets and bring them slowly to life. A poetic walkabout begins.

Many different examples of street furniture – a bench, a windowsill, a flower pot and even a dustbin – are used as a pretext for the strangest poses and shapes. The audience also joins this strange dance, often uncomfortable with this sudden intimacy with the puppets’ lifeless faces. At regular intervals the walk is punctuated by songs, beautifully sung by the performers.

One cannot help but look for the meaning of this journey. Everyone tries to find their own interpretation of the logic of the piece, interpreting gestures and sounds. But no sooner than you start to make sense of a scene it dissolves and ebbs away in the continuous movement of the piece. We all let ourselves be carried along by the poetry of the moment, following the guided trail.

“If some ‘images’ in the show are fixed, others are improvised, depending on where we find ourselves and the audience’s reactions. We never know what will happen. We act instinctively, like a football team, where everyone knows each other’s reactions, our style of play,” says one of the performers from the Whalley Range All Stars, the British company who created the show together with Dutch counterpart, Babok.

“Sometimes we treat the puppets as almost alive, sometimes as simple objects – like during the picnic scene where they are simply used as boxes.”

The box over and over again… A metaphor for our destiny, in short.

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