The show is loosely based on the essay ‘On the Marionette Theatre’ (1810) by German writer and poet Heinrich Von Kleist. Kleist is convinced that a marionette has a kind of Gracefulness in itself due to its lack of self-consciousness and the fact it is moved by a ‘higher power’.
It is billed as a new tragi-comic tale about an existential, self-styled guru who thinks they can lead humanity to salvation. I think, I missed that particular perspective in the piece, but what I did feel, unexpectedly was a show all about the act of finding grace. That elusive state of serenity which is so hard to find in our busy capitalist world.
With a simple setting of performer Ester, and mannequin, and accompanied by a sound montage about what is grace, this was a new kind of puppetry on pointe (ballet shoes), beginning with steps and movements of an interplay between puppet and performer, art imitating life.
This was part performance, part meditation exercise and it seemed to me, latterly of the marionette metaphor for being controlled the opposite of a state of grace. As this one woman show developed, there was an encouragement for finding grace together, with a visualisation exercise and steady crescendo of the backing music.
This is a brand new dance theatre performance, created by award-winning, international theatre-maker and performance artist Ester Natzijl, with original music by Gary Shepherd. Along with the basic principles of the marionette, this felt like a radical reworking of the notion of what a performance is. In the serene setting of the Spiegeltent, it seemed at points like a communion, or sense of peace, even whilst the overarching story is more about a cult.
Ester Natzijl projects focus on multi-disciplinary theatre, combining dance, drama and puppetry. They express universal, timeless, psychological concepts such as inner struggles, the search for meaning, illusions and identity. All subjects focus mainly on visualizing hope, strength and perseverance through the use of these popular forms.
Ester followed her training in Classical Ballet and Contemporary Dance at the Royal Conservatoire of Music and Dance in The Hague in The Netherlands, she worked with several contemporary companies, including the Netherlands Dance Theatre and Introdance, touring internationally.
She established Ester Natzijl Projects to be able to produce her own work, including the internationally acclaimed ‘WATCHING, ceci n’est pas de deux’ , a solo-duet which has been performed at festivals worldwide. Throughout her career she has been active as a ballet, contemporary dance, physical theatre and puppetry teacher.
I’m not sure if the audience quite knew what to make of it, but it is undeniable that the performer is a very talented and innovative one, and a lot of thought has gone in to the devising of the piece. It was exquisite and I feel that another viewing would enable me to get the most from it.
Praise for WATCHING, Ceci n’est pas de deux:
★★★★★ Reviews Hub
★★★★★ Brighton & Hove News
“Dutch Season stand out show” The Argus
£8.00 – £10.00 – The Old Market 28 May 2022 15:00 – 15:50
£8.00 – £10.00 – The Old Market 29 May 2022 13:00 – 13:50
Brighton Spiegeltent, Old Steine Gardens, Brighton BN1 1GY
The Old Market, 11A Upper Market St, Brighton, Hove BN3 1AS