Vu (4 stars)

This article is from 2019


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.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information displayed here is accurate, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic).

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.

Various venues: Edinburgh

Fri 28 Jan

Times vary / 0131 600 0699

Sat 29 Jan

Times vary / 0131 600 0699

Sun 30 Jan

Times vary / 0131 600 0699

…and 6 more dates until 5 Feb