The Andersen Project – A Modern Fairy Tale
Disco colours and pop music are hardly what one might expect in a play related to the classic fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, but they are what you’ll find in Robert Lepage’s latest avant-garde work. CJSF A&E’s Elana Chan enjoyed the English-language premier of The Andersen Project: A Modern Fairy Tale at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre on May 3, 2007.
The Andersen Project: A Modern Fairy Tale
Review by Elana Chan
Director/writer/actor Robert Lepage was commissioned by the Kingdom of Denmark to create a show in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. Lepage has produced a one-man show about the bizarre journey of a Quebecois lyricist in Paris, who has been commissioned to write a children’s opera. The Andersen Project loosely echoes Andersen’s travel to the Paris World Exposition in 1867. The story is told through an exotic array of colours projected onto a huge screen, which serves as the ever-changing backdrop; it ranges from tranquil thick woods to graffiti-covered Metro (subway) walls.
A surprisingly delightful and refreshing partner who shares the stage with Lepage is the drug-addicted dog, Fanny. (Yes, it is a one-man show.) If you just can’t imagine a hyperactive “collar” that seems to move freely and pulls Lepage to a different direction every second, it would be best to experience Lepage’s innovative use of technology first-hand. It is a seamless integration of live performance with moving pictures.
Yet more enchanting is to watch Lepage tells Andersen's dark tale The Shadow. Using a single lamp, he unfolds the story of an educated man talking to his shadow that creeps around with a life of its own, and ends up devouring the man. It is a perfect example showing Lepage’s outstanding acting with the simplest of props and backdrop.
An intriguing tale on disappointment and loneliness told with effortless humour, The Andersen Project is a rare theatrical experience that evokes passion and longing. Robert Lepage is performing The Andersen Project: A Modern Fairy Tale at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre until May 27, 2007, with a French-language closing show. For more information, visit www.vancouverplayhouse.com.