Belleville Rendez-vous

Tue 24th January – Sat 4th February 2012

reviews

Sadie Spencer

at 09:52 on 26th Jan 2012

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'Belleville Rendez-vous' tells the story of a young orphaned boy who lives with his grandmother and finds a kind of fantastical escapism in riding his bicycle. The grandmother spots this passion in her grandson and encourages him to practice cycling so that he will make it into the Tour de France. This he does. Unfortunately, the French mafia have a habit of kidnapping contestants of the Tour de France for their own amusement in a cabaret bar, and the grandmother must go on a quest to retrieve her grandson, with some help along the way.

Fellswoop's production is charming in many parts. The company manage to evoke a sepia-toned nostalgic atmosphere in the venue with the use of live musical accompaniment and props made of rustic-looking household objects; my favorite of these was a dog with a battered leather suitcase for a body and tattered old trilby hats for a head. The cast also manage to bring to life some amusing characters with apt precision; the character of a cigar-smoking club owner with short-man-syndrome was done particularly well, I thought.

However, I feel this production has its short-fallings. Despite being a company who are clearly talented at creating aesthetically pleasing physical theatre, the story they were telling was at times lost on an audience who did not already know the film upon which it is based. The actors showed talent, wit and impressive levels of precision in their choreography but the lack of any narration, save a witty translation from French to English at one point, meant that at times it was hard to follow. Having said this, I would be interested to see what this company produces next.

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