Toute la culture

The meringue of the underground or an exquisite performance corpse – Toutaculture

From June 23rd to 26th, the Compagnie de Zerep presented their new creation, the underground meringue, in the Grande Halle de la Villette. A raw and impossible theatre, with no solution, developing an aesthetic of the ugly and plunging into the surreal meanders of the unconscious…

Once through the swinging door of the Boris Vian Hall in the Grande Halle de la Villette, you enter another world, that of the fantasies and neuroses buried deep within the being. A small room. An intimate atmosphere. In the audience, monster heads in the form of clitoris. Big furry critters. Garlic cloves falling from a face impaled on a skewer. A vampire with a cadaveric complexion. Without forgetting the centerpiece, a large installation located in the middle of the stage: a nightmarish mouth, wide open revealing a very pink glottis, huge teeth, neither properly aligned nor really twisted, surmounted by a disgusting nose the drop drips a sticky snot reminiscent of Salvador Dali’s elastic watch…

The aesthetics of ugliness and real appearances…

Sophie Lenoir immediately announces the color: the ugly is undoubtedly more interesting than the beautiful. Because the ugly is what scares and fascinates at the same time. In the end, the ugly is perhaps the most beautiful. A woman who embraces all the codes of femininity appears on stage. She confidently struts in front of a boisterous audience. This woman in a short skirt and high-heeled moccasins exudes sensuality and disgust. She wears a mask over her face: a flat nose, a three-meter chin, a scowl. She casts contemptuous looks at the audience, establishing a kind of complicity in the absurdity of this repulsive sensuality. However, we know well that she wears a mask, but we forget. Its rough profile hides the boundaries of the simulacrum and freezes its expression in time. A kind of nightmarish face that keeps man in an eternal absurdity. The beautiful and the ugly intertwine, helping to shake the codes of aesthetics and non-aesthetics. Just as reality and illusion merge into one and the same face, revealing the mechanics of true appearances.

zero theatre

What’s more, this “rough theatre” reveals the mechanisms of scenic art itself. In their shocking duo, Sophie Lenoir and Stéphane Roger dissect the simulacrum of the performance spectacle in a disorderly manner. The performers dress and undress on stage, swap their masks, as numerous as they are extravagant. The fourth wall is broken without scruples. We address the public, we even boo them. The irresistible Stéphane Roger comments his choreographic movements with humor and explains the absurd rules of scenography. A kind of display of costumes, a farandole of masks, a rainbow of colors that are not always well exploited. That big disgusting mouth that sits in the middle of the set, the cast never references that. Sophie Lenoir goes from one accessory to another without having had time to identify the object or being able to make a connection to it. Between theatre, dance and performance, the show breaks out of every hierarchy. Multiple ways of being on stage, multiple sources of inspiration that intersect and cancel each other out. “Raw theatre” is not a determined movement, but a protest that becomes the expression of an imaginary, even dreamlike, state of mind, of a way of thinking about theatre, of shaking or even reversing values. And yet this wild writing brings no solution, it is made for everyone and for no one…

The vices of marriage or the duo of the absurd

The duo of actors, the sublime Sophie Lenoir and the clownish Stéphane Roger, invent a lengthy magazine to denounce the vices of marriage. The fantasy of the happiness of living together is dissected by implicit and absurd declarations of love. “When I made love to this man (…), I thought of you,” Sophie remembers melancholy and nonchalantly. “But you should have called me,” boasts Stéphane. “As I walked around with my face bag, I thought of you. “But why didn’t you call me?” “. A dialogue of the deaf in which the characters speak to themselves rather than to their interlocutor. It is about the inside of themselves Underground meringue. A man who makes “inner heads” that only Sophie can decipher. A woman who, for her part, conducts “inner dialogues” which Stéphane listens to with a distracted ear. A youthful way of being together, finding each other in the roughest, freest of ways. Clumsy and spontaneous. An opportunity for Sophie Perez to dismember our romances like an exquisite corpse.

An exquisite powerhouse…

This burlesque cabaret is reminiscent of Fellini’s surrealistic fantasy, his great dreamlike galaxy satyricon, immersed in the darkness of antiquity, amid floating shards that have come down to us. Between psychological introspection, theatrical quiz, existential walks or even the electronic set, the Compagnie Zerep tries to play the exquisite corpse, not with words but with performances. The performance scenes follow one another without logic but instinctively through layers of actions, images, literary and artistic references in a bubbling rebellion. A theater that is consciously freed from any hierarchy. The actors, the objects, the text only form a changing whole. The performances begin but do not always end, some remain unfinished.

It is this exploration of the unconscious, this search for purely psychic automatism that makes this unclassifiable show an avatar of surrealism. Compagnie Zerep’s exuberant imagination brings together popular brothels and avant-garde refinements. As Fellini said about it in an interview satyricon, “The ancient world never existed, but undoubtedly we dreamed it”. And this piece, so raw, so incoherent, so false and so true at the same time, didn’t we dream it?

from October 5th to 7th as part of the Actoral Festival, La Criée, Marseille

from January 19 to 22, 2023, Arsenic-Centre for Contemporary Scenic Art, Lausanne (Switzerland)

Images: © press kit

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