Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Peepshow, Marie Brassard, Melbourne Festival, Oct 25, 2006

 Peepshow by Marie Brassard
Melbourne Festival of Arts
Merlyn Theatre, Malthouse,  Oct 25 to 28, 2006

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Oct 25, 2006

The tentacles of Marie Brassard’s fascinating solo performance, Peepshow, draw one in from the first moment she speaks. She is a consummate performer.

Peepshow, like her exceptional show, Jimmy, combines storytelling with the idiosyncratic style of Brassard, Alexander MacSween’s complex sound technology and lighting by Simon Guilbault.

Although performed on a stage empty but for a carpet and a single chair, Peepshow is transformational, transporting us from story to story, place to place and changing character and gender in a nanosecond. We see and hear Little Red Riding Hood playing in the woods then the Big Bad Wolf who beguiles Red then eats her grandmother.

She transforms into the broken-hearted young woman, the wily seducer and cad, the sad masochistic teacher, the girl who finds herself in a bondage game with a stranger, the rejected young gay man and the child afraid of the monsters she hopes are not under her bed. Finally, she becomes the monster himself lurking dejectedly in his labyrinth, or perhaps in the recesses of our minds.

Brassard does not create characters with the naturalistic physicalisation often employed by actors but with subtle shifts in position, a lilting dance, a pose on the chair. In an instant and often mid-sentence her voice, manipulated by MacSween’s real-time application of multi-effect processors, becomes the “other”.

The personal tales are compelling; some are predators, others are prey. We are absorbed into their psyches, touched by the child’s innocence, by the teacher’s horrific self-mutilation, the girl’s loss of love and we are frightened by the immorality of the seducer and the real danger of the monster under the bed.

Brassard is fascinated with the world of wonder or otherness. She takes to the extreme the notion that we absorb elements of those we encounter and she executes this by swallowing the voices of man, woman, child and monster. She peoples the stage with a parade of characters that merge and evolve magically from her voice.

Lighting and ghostly filmic imagery create environment and atmosphere but it is Brassard who casts the spell on us.

Peepshow may have less resonance than her previous show, Jimmy, but this is another bravura performance by the charming Brassard.

By Kate Herbert

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