L.I.A.R. (Life Is A Rehearsal) is spectacular accomplished production that will certainly be enjoyed by many but that doesn’t mean it is all smooth sailing. In fact there is a sequence later in the piece where the stage set up goes all ship-at-sea-in-a-storm with sails blowing wildly and papers flying around and the dramatic intensity of the show peaks with over amplified volume. That is also something to discuss, the use of the term “piece” to describe this show as it is really not that. Remi Martin and his colleagues have created a show from a series of vignettes that are fantastic on their own but lack a clear overarching narrative that could allow this show to rise above what it currently is.
Amongst a series of abstract physical comedy routines that would be prevalent in the silent film era, Remi is an ersatz Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Similar to that era, there is the use of onstage live musical accompaniment by Tarran the Tailor on beatboxing and percussive live musical accompaniment that develops into more complex material as the show progress including the use of banjo.
Breaking out of a womb-like tent at the start of the show holding a toy astronaut, a motif that is returned to at the end, Remi takes us through a loose series of routines paralleling childhood growth and development, his co-performers Tom Ball as the bumbling stagehand and Mandi Orozco as a love interest of sorts are introduced as the show progresses. There is an amusing urban play on the ballet of Swan Lake utilising backwards caps and skateboards before Remi uses of his body as a musical instrument in a sequence that feels very out of place here and it is given that exactly the same performance appears in Remi’s other show Blanc de Blanc Encore. If this completely extraneous act was to be removed, perhaps then the PG rating would be appropriate but with the current inclusion, I would have to make the warning that this is certainly not a family show simply for that routine alone.
On the plus side, you would be hard pressed to find a more skilled performer than Mandi Orozco this Fringe season. Although it is part of the show, even Remi seems transfixed sitting on stage looking up and watching Mandi’s silk aerial sick acrobatic technique. Tom plays Remi’s offsider well, a standout is the sequence during which he slips and breaks a farfisa keyboard then fails in an attempt to plug it into the electricity prior to Mandi playing Jacques Brel’s Ne me quitte Pas and then Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Another highlight is Remi reprising his slow dance (performed earlier in the show with an ever increasing number of blow up sex dolls) with a red balloon leading into a successful sequence of interactivity with the balloon that seemingly defies gravity and I am reminded of a Banksy piece Girl With Balloon.
This is a successful show and there is a lot to praise within the one hour duration but the major drawback is that it would benefit from further development to stitch the disparate set pieces together into a more cohesive whole.
Fringe Review By Jason Leigh
Tickets and show information from FringeTix.