Vu (4 stars)


credit: Alexis DorÇ

Minimal action for maximum pleasure

Companie Sacékripa's Vu is based on the simplest premise: a man makes himself a cup of tea. Yet across an hour, the small scale adventures of adding sugar, burning toast, adjusting the position of a magazine and pouring the milk become increasingly fascinating, as Etienne Manceau demonstrates his precise, exacting object manipulation. Deadpan and even a little passive-aggressive, especially when an audience member is invited to help out in his idiosyncratic ritual, Manceau's understated clowning focuses attention on the tiniest movements, gradually expanding the tea-making into a complex and exciting series of miniature feats of skill.

Both Manceau's persona and the simple plot allow Vu to become a blank canvas for interpretation: either an eccentric maverick unveiling an obsessive attention to detail or a reflection on the absurdities of even basic human activity, the production reveals how a trained physicality, wry humour and an exact dramaturgy can reveal the tension hidden in familiar activity. Manceau, whether inventing difficult ways to flip sugar into a cup or teasing the audience with the gift of toasted marshmallows, demands attention. The most apparently obscure manipulations of cup, spoon, magazine and even a cleaver set the scene for a surprising pay-off.

The essential qualities of clowning – expressing vulnerability, confusion but also compassion – are stripped of the costume and traditional props. Manceau is closer to the amorphous everyman than the motley-coloured funny, offering an entertaining and provocative display of skill and attentiveness. After the tricks and stunts, the possible allusions to existential idiosyncrasies, Vu is a lesson in observation, rewarding close attention to the subtle and significant.

Part of manipulate Visual Theatre Festival, then touring.

Manipulate Festival

Puppet Animation Scotland collates a collection of world-class animation, puppetry and related performing arts of all styles and techniques from a range of international artists and companies. The 2020 event features late-night music events, café-cabarets, workshops and more.

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