Sunday, 15 July 2012

Les Virevoltés. A lesson in weirdness.

Posted by Rosie

Yesterday I met up with friends for last night of a week long Arts Festival in Vire called Les Virevoltés. Now I don't know if you have ever seen any French Theatre or "Spectacles" but they vary greatly both in their professionalism and their, er shall we say, weirdness. And in many cases weird is the only way to describe them.

How did we fare on the weirdness scale then? We arrived at the venue part way through a play of some sort with actors and actresses dressed in 18th century dress complete with ridiculously large wigs and whited out faces. We couldn't understand a word of what they were saying (not helped by very poor acoustics) but the audience seemed enthralled. I'm guessing it wasn't a comedy, despite having the appearance of one as no-one was laughing. Here's a link to a picture of the "La cie des Femmes à barbe - la taverne Munchausen" and I'll let you decide what you think might have been going on.

Children's Circus Act
Our next act was a circus school for children from 9-14 years old called "Monstres and Machines". Lots of juggling, playing music, uni-cycle riding, stilt walking and general circus trickery followed ... and followed and followed. It just seemed to go on much too long, although I have to say there were some very talented youngsters  in the troupe and at least everything made sense.

The Cabin Act
That wasn't to last though as we moved around the room to an odd looking shack for the third act. Odd the shack may have looked but was nothing compared to the act it was the backdrop for. Two people in, I suppose, 1950's (ish) costumes who only squeaked and squealed as they sort of mimed their way through a day, I think. A few bits to begin with were mildly amusing but the rest was downright weird. Once again the audience watched intently and even laughed at some bits.

We, however, took ourselves off for a sausage and chips supper wanting to eat and then be ready for the final act, which we felt was going to be great. Well we did eat, once we had worked out how to buy our food. Earlier in the evening we had gone to get drinks but the bar-man said we first had to buy a ticket over to where he pointed. We wandered over, said we wanted some drinks, paid for them and received an appropriate number of little laminated tickets. Back to the bar-man where we handed over our tickets, said which drinks we wanted and he gave them to us. This whole queue for a ticket, queue for your drink/meal was repeated in order to get our sausage and chips!! Sometimes I do not understand this country. In fairness though there was an explanation. In France, it is the event that is licensed to sell food and drinks, not the building, so in the case of unlicensed events you can buy a ticket which you then swap for food thus negating the need for a license as you have not actually bought food, just a ticket!

Moving swiftly on to the final act. A large frame with ropes and pulleys hanging from it dominated the entrance to the venue. This looked like we could be in for some seriously good aerial acrobatics and we had secured ourselves front row seats. BUT ... the large bags of what looked like old clothes scattered around the frame hinted at the fact that this wasn't just going to be acrobatics. Were we right? If I say it started with 3 ladies arriving stage left, one just in a large overcoat, one fairly normally dressed and one obviously wearing many layers of clothes and carrying between them a megaphone and more sacks of clothes, would you like to hazard a guess as to the weirdness of this act?  In fairness there was acrobatic rope work of a very high standard but it was only perhaps 10-15 minutes of an hour long show involved the removing and putting on of clothes, the wearing of a tu-tu on heads and prancing around with both a large overcoat and a holy roll-neck sweater over the ladies' heads. We were so gob-smacked at the weirdness of the act that we forgot to take any photos but this link shows some of what we witnessed.

Would I go to Les Virevoltés again? Yes, I probably would as long as once again it was free, the company was good and I don't ever have to even try to understand the acts. This is such a good example as to how a simple stretch of water separating two sometimes quite similar countries such as England and France can ensure that in the case of the Arts, we have very little in common!


  1. Bring back Punch and Judy!! A least they aren't as wooden!!

  2. Well I guess it made for an interesting time! :-)

  3. Of course - the French equivalent of Punch and Judy!

    CTF - it was interesting and because it was so odd it was fun. How's things with you Down Under?


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