Anywhere is the UK debut of the young and exciting French company Le Théâtre de L’Entrouvert. The founders of the company – and performers/ directors of this piece – have a background in fine art and puppet theatre.
Anywhere is indeed puppet theatre, but it is a lot more than any traditional puppet piece: it uses a puppet made out of ice which is constantly melting throughout the show.
The piece is a retelling of the ancient Greek story of Oedipus. It presents a blinded Oedipus deciding to take to the roads begging for forgiveness and for forgetfulness. Oedipus is depicted on stage as the puppet made of ice. We also see Oedipus’ daughter, Antigone, who accompanies him in this journey. Fundamentally, Anywhere is about loneliness and pain.
The piece has a very unique artistic language; along with the ice, the company makes use of ephemeral materials highlighting the fragility of life and of human existence. The use of ice as the basis of Oedipus’ puppet highlights the vulnerability of his nature.
The set design and the piece’s aesthetic is truly stunning. The opening image, in particular, is beautiful with the large suspended screen of ice and the fire. The large circle of stones on the floor create a passage and a road for Oedipus and Antigone to step on, and adds up to a visual celebration of all four elements. There is water, there is fire, there is mist – all the important elements of life and death. And the stage is filled with memories, words and images fading – melting.
It is a beautiful choice to have Oedipus played by a puppet. It has often been debated whether Oedipus had free will or whether he was doomed to catastrophe – a puppet in the hands of some great force or the gods perhaps.
The show is certainly a voyage. Nonetheless, and despite this journey being visually stunning, it fails to lead you to something specific. There is vagueness and repetition which often results in lack of drama and tension. Especially when it comes to the famous myth of Oedipus, one would expect a lot more dynamic climaxes. The piece is described as a poem by its makers, and it certainly has the lyricism of poetry, but it lacks a build up, a climax.
A lot of potential and a lot of very exciting moments, but overall, the piece leaves you feeling slightly unfulfilled – while still at moments mesmerised.