L’Immédiat is part mime, part dance, part rigorous acrobatics, part clowning. Seven performers pinball from a world of entropy to one of collapse resulting, finally, in chaos. That they survive without bruises and fractures is a marvel of flexibility and precision.
Stage right stands a tower of metal, wood, and wire mechanism that seems to bear no relationship to another. Atop the wonderfully imaginative construction, sits a man in a fur hat and coat who either controls or observes what occurs.
Camille Boitel (in dress), Marion Lefebvre (left), Michael Philis
Entropy: We begin with the anarchic, self-destruction of a house. Returning home, a character opens his door only to watch the frame unhinge. A table collapses when something is placed on it, the thermos from which he drinks comes apart, a folding metal chair falls – to extricate himself, the artist climbs through it. The clothes rack topples, a framed picture on the wall crashes down…
From beneath inert covers on the bed, someone rises and dresses like the first performer but can’t manage to put his shoes on without his hat falling off or carry a suitcase without clothes pouring onto the floor. One figure climbs a ladder and reads a book whose pages drift down. When the walls start crumbling in sections…?! Performers can barely stay upright, crumbling as if boneless.
Collapse: At this point, we hear the first of many sounds of destruction occurring offstage. Then things break apart before our eyes. A large theatrical light crashes down. An artist attempting to attain terra firma is at complete loss. He climbs the few pieces of beat up furniture or ladders, leaping from one to another as even these tip. Grabbing a swinging light fixture or curtain only pulls them down.
By the time someone with a small, wheeled dumpster, broom (whose handle comes through its bristles) and hardhat appears, the stage is COVERED with large, colored plastic containers and balls, light fixtures, empty water bottles, broken furniture, pillows…A toppled 25’ tower of cardboard boxes seems like the last straw. Out of audience laughter, the sound of a child’s high-pitched giggle rings like a bell.
Pascal Le Corre
An announcement is made about evacuating the premises “due to the delicate situation.” Suddenly the stage is filled by the frenzied cast in faux fur coats, each with an extraordinarily long-handled broom, sweeping debris off stage. Speed and abandonment make this look like a cartoon.
Chaos: We now see curtained panels in various lengths and widths behind another room of dilapidated furniture without walls . The rest of the show involves the entire company. Men and women alike have long hair. Thespians of both sexes either wear dresses or basic underwear. (Odd choices.) We hear sounds of wrecking, mechanical objection like scraping, whirring, rusted winding, and occasional, wordless, vocal expression. Later, a radio changes stations emitting aborted music and voices from speakers placed along theater balconies.
The scene is in constant physical flux. People desperately climb on, leap over, and crawl under furniture and ladders – including a cupboard, and shelving. One man pours himself into a drawer head first. Movement is ceaseless. At one point gravity gives way and a woman is so helplessly pulled upwards, her fellows ground her body by loading assorted furniture onto the out of control figure. Relief is nowhere in sight.
Permutations at first seem endless, but after awhile feel repetitious. Moments of tongue in cheek humor do break the onslaught, but more of these would help us enjoy rather than endure. Choreographed pandemonium is meticulously executed.
Are Camille Boitel and his company manifesting our sense of impotence against an increasingly degenerate, fragmented world?
L’Immédiat by Camille Boitel
Performed by Camille Boitel, Narine Broise, Aldo Thomas, Pascal Le Corre, Thomas de Broissiana, Marion Lefebvre, Jacques Benoit Dardant
NYU Skirball Center
Through March 13, 2016
566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square