And Then He Ate Me takes on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood
Vélo Théâtre has fun exploring what happens when the big bad Wolf has an existential crisis
French company Vélo Théâtre's take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale is formidable – in both the French and English meaning – and a startlingly beautiful surrealist treasure.
A louche, very French wolf (Charlot Lemoine) reclaims the spotlight back from the girl in the red cloak, bringing capricious new layers to the role of unreliable narrator. 'I remember her well. Christine,' he pouts. 'Veronica? No, Alice.'
All the while, his (seemingly) idiot henchman Rabbit (Jose Lopez) shows off his finest parlour tricks as a battle of supremacy is played out against a room stuffed with magical stars, forests ripped from paper and various cabinets of curiosities.
Shadow play and Buñuelesque sight gags aside, there is a sharp poignancy too. A gentle meditation on the reliance of memory and the aging process is personified by the aged Riding Hood (an adorable Tania Castaing), who grows up to be a grand-maman sporting a soft smile and soporific voice, with the twinkle of naughtiness intact.
Throughout, the Wolf experiences a kind of existential meltdown that is hilarious and troubling, insisting he will trouble our dreams, while succumbing to endless pratfalls, being tied to a rock, mocked and shot at.
The Wolf's sharp little knife may stick into the tropes of storytelling, postmodern theatre and narcissistic leads, but it's sweet strawberry jam that leaks out. 'Sweetest tongue holds sharpest tooth,' as the warning goes in Le Petite Chaperon Rouge.
Part of manipulate Festival. Reviewed at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.