REVIEW: Le Jardin

This review was originally written for the Londonist.

The annual London International Mime Festival has been going since 1977, and there’s still just about time to catch the tail end of this year’s offering.  We’d heartily recommend Le Jardin, which is playing in the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio until Sunday.

A playful and gentle-paced piece of visual theatre, it will make you laugh out loud and coo with delight.  You’ll be impressed by the strength and physical prowess of two French gents who are getting on a bit.  It’s impossible not to be charmed by their amusing and acrobatic antics as they weave a simple tale of the middle aged pleasures of life in and around the garden shed.

Starring the wonderful Jean-Paul Lefeuvre (farmer turned acrobat) and Didier Andre (draughtsman turned juggler), Le Jardin features fun with a wheelbarrow, a brick, a bucket and some lengths of hose pipe.  There’s nerve wrecking nudity, well placed broadsheets, magic and loop the loops.  There are bouncy oranges, flowers on darts, chocolate cakes and tape cassettes swinging from a washing line.  There are clouds of dust and huge, shapely shadows.

Running at 90 minutes without an interval, we wondered whether we’d be able to ward off the fidgets, but they never came.  Despite the meditative pace, we were utterly compelled.  It was brilliant to see a performance that celebrated the strength and beauty of the older male body.  Circus can be dominated by young, buff physiques, but here are two middle aged men who perform in a way that is both skilful and wise.

Le Jardin plays at the Royal Opera house tonight and tomorrow (Sunday), as part of the ongoing, but soon to finish, London Mime Festival.

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