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La Mélancolie Des Dragons – HOME, Manchester – October 1st

La Melancolie Des DragonsLa Mélancolie Des Dragons – a name to conjure with, I thought, as I looked forward to a thrilling blend of enigmatic art and unconventional stagecraft.

Audience goodwill was set to max in the undisturbed hush of concentration that greeted the UK premiere of this experimental work conceived, designed and directed by Philippe Quesne.

The play opens with a car broken down in a snow-covered forest. We hear rock music playing from the car stereo and we’re invited to dwell for many minutes on the surprisingly gentle faces of the hair-flicking, beer-drinking leather and denim-clad rockers sitting inside the car.

The loud music both energises and engenders a peaceful atmosphere and a woman walks into the forest to find out what’s happening and the action unfolds from there.

With the play short on both dragons and melancholy – a toy dragon and childlike wonder being the hallmarks of the play – it was up to the audience to work overtime to decode the set, the protagonists, the ambience, and the purpose of the work.

The roles are played in commendably serious, restrained, minimalist fashion, with empathic cooperation and belief in the work from the actors.

After the show the audience had the chance to quiz the director at a Q&A where, through a translator, Philippe Quesne shed light on the play’s philosophy.

Had we just experienced a play of naive faux naivety?

But no, La Mélancolie Des Dragons was designed as an antidote to cynicism, to create a community of innocence, goodwill, openness, playfulness, and generous-spirited showing and seeing – where the audience was invited to share the childlike delight of the characters in the exposition of the ”attractions” of the marvellously naff travelling Amusement Park.

This isn’t for everyone but, if you go with an open mind, you may find yourself a better person for going with the flow and for giving La Mélancolie Des Dragons the concentration, the curiosity, and the suspension of cynicism it requires.

La Mélcancolie Des Dragons is on at Home, First Street, Manchester, until Saturday 3 October.
For more information or to book tickets go to HOMEmcr.org or phone 0161 200 1500.

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