Pros: Hopkins switches between characters with ease (until the characters take over that is) and adeptly charms the audience with her expressive face and body language.
Cons: If taken seriously, there is little to be gained from this show. Ditto if it doesn’t quite fit your sense of humour.
It’s hard to describe the experience of seeing Le Foulard but I’d have nothing to write for this review if I didn’t at least try, so here we go. If I were only allowed one word to sum up the show, I would choose hilarious. If I were allowed two, I might add bizarre. But I’m given roughly six hundred, so I’ll aim for a little more detail.
When I read the show description for Le Foulard, I was honestly a little put off. Hopkins advertises it as an art show and, with her mention of creating various characters ‘using only a scarf’, I expected a pretentious performance art piece. But advertising the show in this way is completely intentional, for it is these art shows that Hopkins sends up, using her protagonist, the Artist, to mock the pomposity of the genre.
It seems strange to use the word protagonist in a solo show but Hopkins does indeed create various characters using only a scarf. There were three key characters, which I will call the Artist, the Spaniard and Lonely Girl, after their defining characteristics. Hopkins switches between them with the swish of a scarf, becoming the Spaniard with the scarf over one shoulder and arms raised like a flamenco dancer, Lonely Girl with the scarf round her waist like a skirt, and the Artist with it hanging shawl like over her arms.
At first the characters are at the mercy of the Artist, merely creations that she uses to showcase her acting ability. However, as the show goes on, her creations develop wills of their own and the scarf swishing becomes manic as each character fights for dominance. The Artist is determined to put on a serious art show, whereas the Spaniard merely wants to entertain and, very much against the Artist’s will, performs a dramatic spoken word rendition of I Will Survive. The Artist grumpily insists that ‘it’s not a cabaret’ but Lonely Girl goes on to sing La Vie En Rose, which she translates line by line, while telling us about her unrequited love.
There was also a brief moment of audience interaction, a move orchestrated by the Spaniard, much to the chagrin of the Artist who insists, ‘It’s an art show; it has nothing to do with the audience’. Throughout the chaos of the characters arguing among themselves, Hopkins herself maintains control, never missing a beat. Her facial expressions do much of the work, with the gurning Lonely Girl veering through a spectacular range of facial movements. There is a point at which this would become annoying and, although Hopkins never quite reaches it, she gets dangerously close.
Leaving the theatre, my companion and I struggled to put into words what we had just seen, and yet we were both howling with laughter throughout the show. I’ve tried to give you a flavour of the performance but it really is one of those that you have to see for yourself, and if you get a chance, I really recommend that you do.
Written and Performed by: Lucy Hopkins
Booking Until: Le Foulard was a one-off performance at Tristan Bates but it tours Europe and the UK.
Booking Link: http://lucyhopkins.tumblr.com/tour