Do you remember that bizarre scene in American Beauty (1999)? No, not the one with Kevin Spacey, the one with the plastic bag. It was when Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley) said to Jane (Thora Birch), ‘Do you want to see the most beautiful thing I ever filmed? It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing. And there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it, right? And this bag was just… dancing with me … like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes.’ And then we see the video of the plastic bag dancing in the wind. For three minutes. As bizarre as it was watching this plastic bag, for three minutes, its simplicity and, dare I say, beauty was undoubtable.
From the moment we are called over the loudspeaker to enter Space Theatre we are ushered downstairs into a holding room instead of entering via the usual upstairs entrance. The rules to follow are then explained and we are explicitly told that the second the doors to the stage open, the performance is underway. Not a word of mistruth was uttered for when those doors opened, we entered silently straight onto the stage where Jean-Louis Ouvrard awaited us.
L’après-midi d’un foehn – Version 1 is a wonderful in the round performance featured in the Adelaide French Festival 2019. From Artistic Director Phia Menard and with a stunning soundtrack of Claude Debussy’s ‘Afternoon of a Faun’ composed by Ivan Roussel it is 25 minutes of sheer, unexpected wonderment.
We follow Ouvrard as he creates treasure from trash, literally. Simple plastic bags are transformed in front of our eyes into lifelike objects by strategically placed fans. Starting with a solo performance and ending with a corps de ballet, the bags dance a seemingly perfectly choreographed routine until Ouvrard decides it is time to stop. The entire experience is mesmerising; it is delightful. All you needed to do was look at the audience’s faces and hear the squeals from the children to understand how much so.
L’après-midi d’un foehn – Version 1 is a reminder of just how awesome science is. It is also a commentary of the impact of plastic bags in today’s society. Finally, it will truly make you understand Ricky Fitts’ perspective of that dancing plastic bag and you’ll realise that you didn’t watch plastic bags dance for three minutes like with American Beauty, but for 25 minutes. And you enjoyed every single second.
Live Review by Anita Kertes