Monday, February 29, 2016

Groupe F - A FLEUR DE PEAU - Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016

 A Fleur de Peau-created by Group F

Script, Stage Design, Production by Christophe Berthonneau. Musical Composition by Scott Gibbons. Technical creations. Thomas Nomballais. Video Animation. Thierry Dorval and Yann Loic Lambert. Costumes. Ann Williams and Gitta Heinz-Franquet.. Artistic Colaboration. Dominique Noel. Project Manager, Executive Producer Cedric Moreau. Adelaide Oval. Adelaide Festival of Arts 2016. February 27. 2016

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

A sea of spectators flooded across the bridge that connects the Adelaide Festival centtre with the recently modernized Adelaide Oval, pride of the city’s sporting enthusiasts. However, they were not coming to see the Crows do battle with the rival Melbourne team or soak up the sun at a Test match. No, the twenty six thousand were thronging the Adelaide Oval for the grand spectacle of this year’s festival.

As I nudged my way through the East Gate and onto the covered grassed area of the oval, a beautifully staged smoke ceremony by indigenous dancers was welcoming audiences to witness the pyrotechnic wonder of France’s Groupe F in their performance work, A Fleur de Peau (loosely translated as very sensitive or easily set off).

The countdown begins and the crowd chants in unison. In an instant Scott Gibbons’s musical composition bursts forth in unison with jets of flame that leap upward to the night sky. A silver head emerges slowly from behind the vast video display that waits to explode into a kaleidoscope of rolling patterns. Gradually the shape manifests itself, a silver alien against the background of shadowy trees that brush the night sky. The Adelaide Festival’s grand spectacle has begun and an amazed audience oohs and aahs with each pyrotechnic feat . The solitary figure is soon joined by others, manipulating stick figures of burning metal, human Catherine wheels in a splendid outburst of flame and colour.

Slowly they levitate into the night sky, the crane at times indistinguishable in the darkness, while the swirling sea of colour below changes to reveal the probing eyes of beasts morphing into cars speeding along an underpass and out into the open highway. A Fleur de Peau has astounded the senses, transported us beyond reality to magical illusion. The ancient ritual and the mesmerizing power of Nature’s flames, created by the master of script, stage design and production, Christophe Berthonneau, transports the audience into a world of wonderment. The company that has astounded the masses at two Olympic Ceremonies, illuminated the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day and returned to the spiritual home of spectacle at the Palace of Versailles to reimagine the glory of the Sun King’s reign has gifted the people of Adelaide the breathtaking wonder of their magic.

This brilliantly stage-managed, orchestrated and astonishing spectacle dissolved in swirling clouds of smoke. For one night only Berthonnau brought his magic to the festival city, assisted by Thierry Dorval and Yann Loic Lambert’s video animation and Ann Williams and Gitta Heinz-Franquet’s costumes.

As a woman behind me remarked, “I shall never be able to look at fireworks in the same way again!


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