Project Arts Centre
Dublin Theatre Festival 3/10/14
My trip to see Jonathan Capdevielle’s “Adiashatz Adieu” at the Project Arts Centre was an impromptu one. I was offered a ticket a couple of hours before the show and accepted without really knowing what the piece was; I had no time to research it and my notes were taken on the back of the programme because I didn’t have my notebook with me. However, this piece was so different, so fresh that I think that even had I had the chance to know more about it before I saw it, it would still have produced the same responses, the same unsettlement and the same questions.
The show began with Capedeville, dressed unassumingly, holding a mic in one hand and a can of Pepsi in the other standing in the centre of the stage projecting a nervous air towards his audience. This feeling of testing the waters continued as he broke into an a cappella Madonna medley, pausing between each song, hand in his pocket, closed off; but soon we could feel him find his feet as the strength of each song grew and he began to show off his vocal abilities.
From the Madonna medleys Capedeville moved to much more shocking, harrowing songs in French (with surtitles). This gave us an idea of what was to come as the show progressed. Following these songs Capedeville quickly moved into playing out scenes from real life; a stilted conversation with his father, a distressing scene in a hospital with an ill relative and an all too familiar scene of drunken antics outside a nightclub.
Capedeville portrayed these scenes with great skill, switching between characters vocally with ease and distinction. Midway through these scenes he also changed character in terms of costume, switching into drag at a dressing table upstage. The onstage costume change complimented the raw, pared down feeling of the piece. There was no flashy fantasy in this; it was a bare snapshot into Capedeville’s mind.
The performance was further strengthened and complimented by the excellent lighting by Patrick Riou. Riou kept the lighting simple in terms of colour and used effects sparingly so that when they were used, they had a real power. From the beautiful yet unsettling reflections from the mirror ball to the spotlight which created the powerful separation between Capedeville and the other singers; the lighting was superb.
I only have one minor complaint and that is to do with the surtitles. Generally they were very good, but I found there to be some inconsistency in translation at some points. There were some parts in French that were not surtitled and consequently would have been lost on any members of the audience who did not understand French. This is, I think, a pity as they were no less important than any other lines.
Without a doubt, this was an unsettling piece. I know that during it I hardly knew what to think or how to react and judging from the occasional moments of uncertain laughter from the audience; I doubt I was the only one that felt that way. However, this unease felt intentional and I think it worked with the piece. This, for me, was something truly new and different. I was left thinking and reflecting upon it for some time after I left the theatre behind.