Les Sept Planches de la Ruse

aurelie14 January 2009, Barbican Centre, London.

I started this post on the 6th week of 2009… now it is actually the 10th week. Oh dear, lots of back-blogging to do. I moved two weeks ago, and we are just getting internet tonight!

Anyway, one of the most powerful shows I have seen so far this year is Les Sept Planches de la Ruse. I don’t watch many shows at Barbican, but it’s been a great streak so far – all shows-exhibitions have exceeded my expectations!

Quoting my friend, this show probably has the most psychologically satisfying end I have ever seen to a show. One of the most critical moments – the point that can make or break a show. I guess the concept lends itself to it.

Crudely put, this show is 90 minutes of block shifting – but it was incredible, fascinating, creative and totally mesmerizing. The cast would rearrange the blocks, run up them, slide down them, climb up between the blocks, hide in them, sit on them. These are huge blocks, mind you. The biggest one was probably 4m tall…(just read that the heaviest one weighs 500lbs!!) and they moved them around as if they weighed nothing. And how precarious it looked, balancing a huge triangle on a little square, pushing the parallelogram over, so that it would tip over and lean on the rectangle at a perfect angle. I loved the mathematics they used in this show… how at times, everything would just fit perfectly. A very inspiring use of the stage and the set. It is based on the Ancient Chinese puzzle game, Tangram 七巧板.

One thing that always intrigues me is watching an Asian cast/company in a foreign country or performances/artwork that have an Asian theme. It’s interesting to see what shows makes it abroad, what they bring to this new audience, how the audience reacts and how differently it compares to those performances that don´t make it abroad. This was a slightly different case though, as the director is the famous Compagnie 111 director Aurélien Bory, and the cast is from Dalian, China. At first glance, I thought it was odd casting. You couldn’t tell what the performers had in common. But as they performed, you realize that they are Beijing Opera artists. All highly trained in martial arts and singing.

You have to catch this show when it comes near you – I really enjoyed it. Share your thoughts afterwards, as uh, I´ve talked to about 8 people who had seen it as well… and only one person raved about it as I do. But that’s the beauty of the arts right… everything strikes everyone differently.


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